How to Distinguish Your Restaurant Brand from a Sea of Tech-Savvy Competitors

In the smartphone era where everything is right at your fingertips, social media serves as one of the most engaging and influential means of brand-to-customer interaction. According to PAR’s 2019 Restaurant Technology Trends Report, there are 60 million active business pages on Facebook and 3.1 billion people using social media. With so many competitors and opportunities, it can be challenging to differentiate your brand in a world where every successful company is tech-savvy. From restaurant management hardware and software to customizable integrations that allow for third-party survey, delivery and loyalty programs, choosing the right technologies is crucial for standing out from the crowd.

Cloud-based restaurant POS systems that are easy to try out and versatile enough to offer a comprehensive suite of customer engagement solutions are essential for single and multi-location restaurants alike. Modern POS features go beyond order management, inventory tracking and serving as a cash register. They update in real-time and work well with application programming interfaces (APIs) to expand their capabilities, making them future proof regardless of the way the restaurant industry transforms in the next 5-10 years.

Staying ahead of trends is key, as Chick-fil-A is doing with its new automated table service that allows for customers to sit down, select their meal and add-ons, and have a crew member bring the food to their table. The technology just launched this month nationwide with a 92% approval rating among customers in 80 test market stores due to its ease of use and integration with Chick-fil-A’s loyalty program.

Integrate Next-Generation Guest Feedback With Your POS Software

Making quality food isn’t enough these days; restaurants need to sell brand experiences as well. Collecting data from these experiences in a restaurant POS system is easier than ever with solutions like AfterWords. The company’s API integrates with Brink cloud-based POS and other point of sale software to offer customer surveys that include sales data so restaurant managers have the full context of a commendation or complaint.

According to AfterWords, customers have historically been annoyed by surveys that ask which menu items they ordered or location they frequented, as they feel the restaurant should already know this information. They also found surveys too outdated and negative, as most occurred days or weeks after the experience took place and focused on issues rather than what went right. Noticing a shift to cloud-based point of sale systems, AfterWords sought to capitalize on the instantaneous capability of this technology and deliver same-day surveys, sometimes before the customer even leaves the restaurant.

Get On Board With Digital Delivery

“Delivery is currently one of the hottest topics in the restaurant industry; a feature that was once an optional way to receive your pizza has manifested rapidly alongside the cultural shift that now centers around the overzealous consumer need for convenience. Our current generation expects to enjoy their cuisine whenever and wherever their heart’s desire, all with the simple click of a button.”

PAR 2019 Restaurant Technology Trends Report

While some food service establishments may build delivery into their operations, many small businesses – from coffee shops and food trucks to full-service restaurants and fine dining establishments – do not have the infrastructure, ability, or resources to offer this popular feature. However, this does not mean they can afford to miss out on the growth potential of digital delivery. According to a study by L.E.K. Consulting, digital delivery sales are projected to grow by 22.3% from 2018 to 2023 compared with overall sales growth of only 4.7%.

For the same time period, L.E.K. expects traditional delivery to drop by 2.3%, emphasizing the need for change among the 63% of restaurants that still lack online ordering. Incorporating proprietary delivery can be a costly and daunting task, and it isn’t an option for every restaurant owner. While keeping up with competitors to maximize profit is a primary goal of any restaurateur, many seek other avenues to address consumer demands. Building an extensive ecosystem and establishing valuable partnerships with vendors is a viable and beneficial alternative. Checkmate and Chowly, two of PAR’s partners, integrate with popular delivery services like DoorDash and UberEats.

The food delivery industry can change fast, as shown by DoorDash’s rise in market share from about 15% in March 2018 to over 27% as of March 2019. As a result, it is important for restaurants to diversify their options when it comes to third-party services. They need to consider their POS system’s compatibility with APIs and make sure it still meets specific feature requirements for inventory management, credit card payment processing and sales tracking.

Capture Customers’ Loyalty

Loyalty programs are valuable because they encourage repeat customers and drive profitability. A 5% increase in customer retention increases profits by 25% to 125%. Also, the cost to acquire a customer is 5% higher than to retain one.

Offering rewards on customers’ birthdays makes them think of your brand on a yearly basis, but also recommend the loyalty program to their friends for a “word of mouth” effect that you just can’t get from paid advertising. Making accumulated points expire on a certain date helps to create a sense of urgency that can translate into more frequent visits. According to a case study by Spendgo, an integration partner with Brink’s restaurant POS software, 92% of customers redeem their rewards before they expire, which translates to a 30% increase in overall visits per year.

Another partner, Punchh, will send personalized, branded messages to customers’ mobile devices or iPads with codes for coupons and limited time offerings. By integrating into the POS systems that quick-service restaurants and other establishments are already using, these APIs streamline the customer acquisition and retention process without forcing them to switch providers for tableside ordering, inventory tracking, touchscreen technology or other POS solutions.

Gift cards result in a 6% increase in online check averages, and incorporating them into your loyalty program can help to drive new rewards customers as current members buy them for friends and family.

Loyalty programs are here to stay, and the more you invest in a way to attract repeat visits, the less vulnerable your business is to the high expenditures associated with constantly acquiring new customers.

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