Cost Aside, What do Restaurant Operators Really Want Technology-Wise?

September 16, 2021

Photo courtesy of National Computer Corporation

According to a recent Restaurant Business survey, 2 out of 3 restaurateurs are planning to enhance their technological investments soon; when asked “near-term, what are your plans for investing in technology,” only 2% reported that they would spend less, with the remaining 33% stating that their spending likely won’t change. This being said, the cost remains one of the biggest barriers to getting what they really want. 

The survey posed operators a simple question: what technology would they lease or buy if cost were not a consideration. According to the findings, hand-held ordering devices for servers and pay-at-the-table systems were the most popular, making up 55% and 50% of the vote respectively; interestingly, these are 2 technologies that have existed, and become increasingly popular, for a decade now. Following these top 2 are KDS or other back-of-house devices (at 52%), integration software that can consolidate orders into a single system (45%), and software for the management of customer relations (at 42%). The more “out-of-box” technologies that intrigued operators were robots (22%), AI-driven phone systems (33%), and geofencing capabilities (39%). 

When the cost was replaced back into the equation, the technology desired changed to maximize efficiency. While hand-held ordering devices for servers and pay-at-the-table systems remained in the top 2 spots, a new POS System took 3rd place; all of these technologies are efficiency boosters more than anything. Even more tellingly, when operators were asked to factor the cost into their technology investment plans, the percentage of those interested in leasing or buying new technology skyrocketed to 11%, up from the 2% recorded when the cost was disregarded. 

As can be deduced, the cost was the #1 reason why operators struggle with leasing or buying new technology. When asked ”what do you like least about restaurant technology?” the results were:

  • Ongoing service fees – 28%
  • The difficulty of integrating new technology – 21%
  • Upfront costs – 19%
  • The distance it puts between restaurants’ employees and guests – 12%
  • Unreliability – 10%
  • Tendency to be quickly rendered obsolete – 9%

Nevertheless, operators overwhelmingly support technology and understand its worth. When prompted with choosing “the statement that best illustrates their attitude toward restaurant technology” 49% picked “it’s a major advantage because it boosts throughput and improves service;” the runner up answer, with 22%, was just as positive: “it’s a major advantage because it reduces my labor needs.” 

Founded by attorneys Andreas Koutsoudakis and Michael Iakovou, KI Legal focuses on guiding companies and businesses throughout the entire legal spectrum as it relates to their business including day-to-day operations and compliance, litigation and transactional matters.

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