The diners are back big-time – but they’re definitely feeling nervous. And there are those who say they still feel uncomfortable about dining indoors.
So what can hard-pressed restaurants do to make sure guests enjoy their dining-in experience and start getting back into more normal habits?
Certainly, the uncertainty surrounding the removal of remaining restrictions on 21 June has not helped. But there are still steps you can take to make sure diners have the confidence to put their pandemic fears behind them.
1. Communicate well: Your restaurant takes every precaution to keep guests and staff safe, so make sure you shout about it. Use social media and your website to state your safety processes clearly – and that’s everything from Covid-related moves to allergy awareness.
Many restaurants have beefed up their websites with the help of epos software to enable online reservations and ordering. A good-looking website that’s easy to use is a valuable brand-booster that inspires confidence.
2. Sit them down quickly: You never want guests hanging around waiting for a table and getting bored – whether or not there’s a pandemic.
Epos software provides a graphical seating plan on a tablet so your front of house staff can make efficient seating decisions or manage diners’ expectations about how long they might have to wait. If you are managing both indoor and outdoor areas, it’s a great help.
3. Provide self-ordering: Guests have become accustomed to ordering via a tablet or kiosk enabled by restaurant epos software, finding it a quick and convenient way to get their food. Menu items can be quickly updated, too, even across chains.
4. Go touch-free: With the help of epos software, you can offer your guests secure payment right at their tableside, with just a tap. No need to queue at the till or manage bits of paper.
5. Check how you are doing: Customer feedback is more important than ever as we inch our way back to normality. Diners feel different about things after all the lockdowns and sofa-surfing, and it’s crucial for your restaurant to have its finger on the pulse of what they want.
Your epos software helps you create a two-way conversation with guests via your website and social media, and also captures data that can be used to create targeted offers and marketing campaigns.
How else is technology helping the return to business?
Labour management: You won’t be surprised to hear that staff are in short supply. Epos software can’t help you recruit the people you need, but it can help you manage the ones you have by pinpointing the busiest times and how many you need on to provide good customer service.
Menu optimisation: The technology identifies best-sellers so you can constantly tailor your menu to maximise sales and reduce kitchen waste.
Stock control also becomes more efficient, because the system creates accurate reports and forecasts.
Quicker table turn: Orders are taken at tableside on mobile devices or tablets and sent straight to the kitchen for speedy and accurate delivery – the epos system can integrate with kitchen automation if you want it to.
As restaurants take up the strain of getting back to normal, many have already turned to restaurant technology to be their new business partner.
In a time of staff shortages, lingering safety concerns and the remnants of social distancing, it’s a huge help in streamlining operations and maintaining that all-important level of customer service.
Because in the end, what most reassures your customers is coming in for dinner – and finding it’s as enjoyable, delicious and excellent an experience as it always was. Who wouldn’t want a business partner who can help make that magic happen?