Grant Higgs from North Carolina is a classically trained professional chef with over 20 years of private club experience. In the following article, Grant Higgs explains how technology is changing the way restaurants do business and how this technology is also improving the customer experience.
In a highly competitive restaurant industry, it’s the little things that can make a big difference.
Sometimes it’s the atmosphere. Other times, it offers unique foods that the site didn’t have access to before. But when it comes down to it, the name of the game is innovation, explains Grant Higgs of North Carolina.
To be relevant, many restaurants need to evolve to meet 21st century technology standards. The problem is that restaurants are often notoriously allergic to change, even though there are numerous forms of restaurant technology that can elevate a business above the noise.
Grant Higgs profiles below some of the key restaurant industry technology trends, driven by a food technology market valued at nearly $342 billion by 2027.
Alternative payment methods
The COVID-19 pandemic made contactless payments necessary. Contactless payments may have skyrocketed during the pandemic, but Grant Higgs says it’s a technology that’s here to stay.
Now these payment options are taking it even further, and the choice to pay via a smart card, smart watch, or smartphone is going mainstream. This technology offers benefits for both the consumer and the business owner. Such payments are extremely fast and, better still, convenient, explains Grant Higgs of North Carolina.
Another by-product of the pandemic, air purification systems have become a must as part of a restaurant’s cleaning protocol. Customers now expect advanced disinfection systems that focus on circulating clean air through technologies such as indoor and outdoor bipolar ionization.
North Carolina’s Grant Higgs says another approach uses ultraviolet light to clean both restaurant surfaces and the air, often using technology not just available to the general public.
QR codes, a type of barcode, are not exactly new. It has been widely used in marketing and product tracking for years. But they’re a novel implementation for restaurants, which now use QR codes to store menus and provide another way to order, pay bills and check the nutritional value of dishes, explains Grant Higgs of North Carolina.
Somewhat related is the use of augmented reality (AR) technology in menus. This approach most likely won’t be available in the near future, but such technology has the potential to show 3-D images of food that can also be connected to a restaurant’s ordering system.
Reservation and inventory software
Grant Higgs of North Carolina says technology is constantly evolving for two of the most important aspects of running a successful restaurant. New reservations software eliminates the potential for human error and can make accepting and storing reservations as easy as possible, eliminating long waits and overbooking.
Accuracy is also a fundamental part of advanced inventory management software. Various technologies can organize inventory lists and lists on paper, providing insights into your selling and buying patterns to ensure your business is on the right financial path.
Grant Higgs says teaching new employees the rules is a priority for restaurants large and small. More and more restaurants are using virtual reality to onboard new employees.
Such VR training allows new or potential employees to gain an in-depth look at the ins and outs of running a restaurant, from kitchen facilities and how to operate on busy evenings to the perks of being employed.
Through such orientations, restaurant owners can even tailor content that is specific and relevant to the restaurant and the community it serves.
Meal plan kits aren’t just for grocery stores or companies like Blue Apron. Restaurants are also coming into play, deconstructing their most popular dishes and selling them direct to consumers to prepare at home.
This approach is particularly popular with younger generations, with 75% saying they would consider buying one, according to a survey by the National Restaurant Association.
Still, about 50% of older Americans say they would give the option a try, too, seeing it as a way to support community restaurants while also rating their favorite foods, Grant Higgs reports.
Cloud Print Jobs
For too long, restaurants have worked with waiters taking orders and then running back to the kitchen to enter them. A slight improvement allows restaurant staff to digitally capture an order and send it to the back of the house.
But new kitchen cloud printing resources send orders to the kitchen at lightning speed and directly through an EPOS system.
Such cloud-based systems also allow staff to record dietary preferences and store product information, so a restaurant is notified when supplies are running low.
And all this using just two technologies: a cloud printer and an ordinary tablet.