With years of experience in the Restaurant Tech Industry, Frank Caron joined us for a chat this week to shed some light on the future of things, from an insider perspective. Frank’s decorated past includes work in app and web development centred around the quick service food and restaurant industries. However, he also has a firm handle on the realities of the restaurant and bar industry and holds the belief that customers come to these locations for the primary reasons of having human conversation and experiencing hospitable service. So just how far will technology take this industry? These 3 principles will guide the way in shaping the future of quick service food, bars, and restaurants, and the ways in which technology impacts this industry.
1. Clear and Immediate Value Added
Getting customers to interface with an iPad in your store, download your coffee app, or input their email and subscribe to your newsletter has a lot to do with ‘what’s in it for them’. This starts by providing that initial reward--> 20% your first order with our app, 5 coffees and the 6th is free, half price drink app promo code, etc. From there, the customer is in.. and this is the easy part. How do you keep them engaging with the platform? How do you keep them from deleting that app? Unsubscribing from your newsletter? Avoiding your platform? This is where gamification can be very powerful.2. Gamification
Your goal as a restaurant owner should be to encourage your customers to engage with your brand even while they’re not physical in your shop. This might include encouraging beautiful Instagram posts by hosting weekly competitions for prizes or the opportunity to be featured/ re-posted (take Sweet Jesus as a textbook example of this). This might include encouraging customers to book a table through your app to receive 15% off their meal of 4 people or more. This might include a ‘2-for-1 Mate Date’ promotion advertised strictly through your app. I could go on. The important thing to remember is that there is no ‘one size fits all’. Executing a gamified and engaging technology platform to drive traffic and increase sales starts by first understanding your goals as an owner.
Will you benefit from increased social media presence? Will you benefit from digitizing the process of table bookings? Do you want more feet through the door? Do you want to drive higher ticketed purchases from an existing customer base?3. Reducing Barriers to Entry: Placing Tech on the Back Burner
As a tech guy, surprisingly Frank shed some fascinating non-tech centric thoughts on the core values behind food, drink, and restauranting. Encouraging customers to interface heavily and directly with technology might work in the context of very quick service food and coffee, as these environments are faster paced and less experiential. However, any successful technology platform needs to jive and flow well with the existing atmosphere, baristas/ bartenders/ staff, company culture, identity, and location-specific experience. Simply throwing an iPad at the front door, or putting up some signage to encourage customers to download your app can act as a barrier to entry. Customers likely value the genuine human interaction and good vibes they get from being in your shop, and integrating a technology platform into this existing fabric is possible and highly rewarding.