A lot has changed in the way restaurants adapted to overcome the pandemic. It may be that your business has gone through staff turnovers and that you or your team had to embark on a digital and social media journey to survive. But I’d bet that your checkout process still has lots of room to improve – as is the case with most restaurants. By going through the thoughts below, your restaurant(s) can not only avoid losing customers due to payment method preference but tap into an opportunity of standing out by offering the ultimate checkout experience. Spoiler: it also means savings and more profits.
It seems like QR codes are popping up everywhere these days after the pandemic drove a push toward contactless. If you haven’t already, consider introducing a QR code-powered digital menu. These are fairly easy and inexpensive to do (this site offers the QR code for free). This could save you considerable printing expenses.
Find a freelance designer who can make it visual. Pictures are very helpful, especially if your menu is less traditional – and may save you from having your staff explain the dishes over and over. This also manages the customer’s expectations. Also, learn how to update the menu online. This comes in handy when your restaurant is running out of certain ingredients or the capability to offer certain dishes, or even for seasonal plates you may offer.
Serve a quick and easy checkout
Time means money for you and convenience for your customers. Anyone appreciates being served in a timely manner, and that counts for the checkout too. Bringing the bill and having to take the card back to the cashier for a transaction not only poses a risk of fraud but also takes away time from your service staff that could be invested in other activities (we’ll talk more about staff shortage later, but every task counts) and a faster turnover of tables – which I’m sure would be appreciated on the busiest time of the day.
By offering a pay-at-the-table option — a mobile POS that enables restaurants to accept and process payments at the table — you’re able to optimize the dining experience for guests while saving your servers’ time. A mobile POS can pre-suggest tips, eliminating the pen and paper handling, eliminating the pressure (and time) on your customer to calculate tips on the spot, and increasing the chances of your staff getting well tipped. With higher tips, your servers may be happier and more likely to stay on the job – and we know staff shortages have been an issue. Some systems even offer survey options to measure food quality and service levels — more data you can work with to optimize your operation.
Splitting the bill is a click away for most credit card transactions, making it convenient for customers in groups, who will appreciate having the bill settled in real-time.
If you have a larger restaurant operation, you may be ready for kiosk ordering and up-front paying. McDonald’s is a reference for self-service mode for high-traffic areas, such as airports and shopping malls. It reduces the demand on staff while presenting a visual experience for your customers. In tourist areas, the items’ pictures are self-explanatory, and menus may be offered in different languages for foreign visitors, further reducing the demand on staff while offering a modern experience.
If your operation is big enough, it should have its own mobile app. Chick-fil-A is the gold standard of customer experience by offering alerts with geo-location, texting receipts, knowing favorite past orders, locations, payment methods and offering various pick-up possibilities (curbside, drive-thru, in-person). All of this while also giving customers loyalty points. Some modern POS systems offer many of these same features through their own app stores, allowing restaurants with a local reach to compete with the national brands and offer the latest technology to their customers.
Presenting your customers with all the options they want when deciding how to pay is important, and cash should be in the mix. But handling cash comes with risks, such as robbery, having employees harmed, or even employees making mistakes when handling bills. Transferring and depositing cash becomes an extra burden for the restaurant manager, who is usually tasked with making bank deposits. Not to mention the health concerns around handling cash in the first place. So offer cash as an option to card payments, but keep in mind that customers’ preference for digital and contactless payments continues to accelerate rapidly.
Make the most of free accessories
Your business can also benefit from free accessories such as check presenters, signage and hand sanitizer dispensers offered by various card networks. Most card brands (e.g., check out this website or this one) offer free items that help merchants convey payment options to their customers and are useful day-to-day items merchants need.
As the world heals from the pandemic and family gatherings and summer travel is back in full force, consumers are eagerly returning to restaurants. Even with rising inflation and economic uncertainty driving consumers to try to save where they can, they are still opening their wallets for restaurant meals. This is the time to tap into what payments can do for your business – from reducing costs to increasing profits, plus providing the opportunity to wow your new or returning customers with a seamless checkout experience that will drive lasting customer loyalty.
Afshin Yazdian is CEO of U.S. Acquiring at Paysafe, which offers robust, affordable and scalable restaurant payment solutions for quick- or full-service restaurants. He joined Paysafe in July 2020 and leads the company’s Global Merchant Solutions team. Before joining Paysafe, he held the role of President and CEO of New York-based Cynergy Data until its merger with Priority Technology Holdings in 2014, where he continued as President of the combined companies. During his tenure at PRTH, Afshin grew the organization into a top 10 US Processor and helped lead the company’s listing on the NASDAQ exchange. Earlier in his career, Afshin was a co-founder and Executive Vice President and General Counsel of iPayment, Inc., also leading the growth of that company into one of the top payment processors in the United States.