As we currently sit in what is referred to as a “shelter in place” posture, the restaurant industry has taken the brunt of the ramifications of these recommendations, mandates and government enforced policies. Just over a month ago, I enjoyed an evening out where I waited 20 minutes for a table at my favorite restaurant. The place like it always seemed to be was packed out with patrons sitting elbow to elbow as noise and laughter filled the place.
Last night I was back there but not to even enter the place. I was met at the door and handed a bag that contained my dinner for the night. My entire interaction and financial transaction took place online. I ordered, paid and tipped all from my web browser. As a side note I tipped a higher percentage than I normally do. I share that to encourage you to do the same if you are able in these times when the service workers are struggling as both volume and most human interaction are extremely low.
As I enjoyed my meal, which tasted great as always, I found myself reflecting on what the new norm will be as we seem to be on the precipice of starting to open the economy back up. Will we sit elbow to elbow in crowded restaurants? Will the government limit the amount of employees and patrons based on square footage or some other metric? What will be the driving factor of people returning to and choosing new restaurants?
I believe that much like 9/11 changed the way we travelled, the coronavirus will change our dining experience. I have read and heard about draconian measures of restaurants checking the temperature of patrons at the door, and of government issued “health” cards that will be required of patrons. While these seem a bit far fetched, self quarantining and shelter in place orders also seemed that way a little over a month ago.
I think we are going to enter into a new era where “trust” becomes a key ingredient in the dining out experience. Food quality and atmosphere will still be very important, but things like a kitchen camera, staff hygiene and overall restaurant cleanliness and health policies may become the most important factor.
One of the big post coronavirus changes that needs to be made is Contactless Payment. This should be coupled with a robust ordering and tracking system where a server is assigned their own tablet per shift. The server is going to be where this trust is built with the customer. The server will be the one who makes sure the table is clean and prepared, perhaps wearing gloves and a mask. That server will be the only real human to human contact that takes place.
This is where Contactless Payment and/or Pay At The Table makes sense for the trust factor. The server doesn’t even have to touch the customers credit card. The tablet can be wiped with a disinfecting wipe in front of the customer before the customer needs to add a tip or authenticate the purchase.
The only thing that seems to be holding back Pay At The Table is the American tipping culture. Customers don’t feel comfortable with the server “lurking” while they leave a tip. The beauty of new Pay At The Table systems is that the server could disinfect the tablet in front of the customer and then leave the tablet briefly for the customer to add a tip (that can be easily done with suggested prompts on the screen) and complete the transaction.
The major added bonus of Pay At The Table is efficiency. Pay At The Table can turn tables over 8-10 minutes faster. According to nerd wallet “That’s important for a restaurant to consider. If I waited in front for my table, the wait time averages 15 to 30 minutes. If you take that eight or even 10 minutes you gain by using pay-at-table, that will decrease the wait time for a table. Efficiency drives revenue.” With potential new regulations limiting seating, these 8-10 mins can be crucial.
Yes our dining experience will change according to California’s Governor Newsom
“You may be having dinner with a waiter wearing gloves,” suggested the governor, drawing on previous remarks made by California public health director Dr. Sonia Angell. “Maybe a face mask, a dinner where the menu is disposable, where the tables, half of the tables in that restaurant no longer appear, where your temperature is checked before you walk into the establishment.”
This change brings the opportunity to build trust with customers and improve efficiency!
If you’re in the restaurant business and have not yet implemented contactless payment, it’s not too late! D16 is helping restaurants rapidly install contactless payment with existing or new POS systems to ensure health and safety aren’t barriers for your loyal customers.
Let us help you make technology a key differentiator in your comeback strategy. If you would like to learn more about how to integrate contactless payment into your systems, give us a call or reach out using the form below to start a conversation.