Many people like to have the latest in technology. And the latest iPhone, an iPad 2 and ultra-thin MacBook Air (can you tell I’m an Apple fan?), are all very cool. But is “cool” enough to justify the cost?
Well, sometimes. Especially when it’s for personal items that can provide hours of entertainment. But when it comes to business, “cool” takes a backseat to effective return-on-investment. Here, technology should meet very specific needs and ultimately should lead to two main things – saving time and increasing profits.
So How Do I Know if I Need It?
The equation is pretty simple. If it pays for itself in a reasonable time frame and the ongoing cost is less than the benefit it brings, buy it. If it doesn’t, think twice.There’s a lot of incredible new technology in the restaurant arena these days. Online Ordering, Digital Signage, Pay-at-Table and mobile everything just to name a few. Is it all worth it? Maybe. Let’s take look at an example.
Taking Orders at the Table
Mobile restaurant POS devices have been around a long time. 10 years ago, the typical “mobile” device was oversized, heavy and very expensive. It was also fragile and usually ran its own version of menu screens that were different from the the rest of the POS system.
Sure, these dinosaurs were kind of cool, but were they practical? Not really. Most cost at least as much as a standard POS terminal. And instead of 3-4 servers sharing a terminal, each had to have their own mobile device. So the cost was much higher. Plus, they were hard to carry, broke when dropped and generally were just a hassle to work with. While they offered certain benefits that ordering at the table can provide, the overall “return” wasn’t very good. That’s why they were only used in unique circumstances and never caught on it a big way.
Fast-forward to today.
Focus POS running on an iPad is cool. Do you need it in your operation? Well, maybe . . .
Technology races along and mobile devices are no longer clunky and expensive. It’s now possible to take orders on an iPad or other tablet as well as a smartphone. They cost much less and most everyone is familiar with them. So is now the time get with the mobile revolution? Well, maybe.
Giving all your servers tablets can provide benefits to your restaurant. Orders can get to the kitchen faster. The server stays on the floor longer. They have additional information at their finger tips. And, it really does look cool!
But again, each server needs one. They are still “consumer” devices, not retail-hardened for the unforgiving restaurant environment. They’ll likely tend to disappear regularly. The server will need to carry it with them. Menu screens may have to be modified to fit the smaller screen size.
Is it Cool? Yeah! Should You Buy It? Not Necessarily
So overall is it worth it? While a good return-on-investment with mobile ordering is much more likely today than it was ten years ago, it still may not make the most sense for your operation. Talk it over with your technology provider and consider all possible ways to solve your particular needs. While we love new technology, we’ve recently recommended against using Focus Mobile in several situations – it was just more practical (and a better ROI) to go with a different approach.
It All Depends on the Return
Anytime you consider adding or replacing technology, your return-on-investment should be the main consideration. But it’s not just about dollars, time counts too. If something saves time which can be better applied to other areas, that can be huge.
Additional time to spend on marketing, new menu ideas, customer service and operational fine-tuning can payoff big. How about more time to spend with family, ride your Harley or walk on the beach? What’s that worth?
And don’t let a price tag fool you. A new product or service can seem “expensive,” especially if it’s something you’re not familiar with or not purchased before. Again, it’s all about the return. For example, $1,000 a month might seem like a high fee to pay for a particular service until you realize it’s increasing profits by $2,000 a month.
You need to keep up with technology. In today’s competitive restaurant industry, your business depends on it. There’s a lot of cool new stuff out there. Check it out. You’ll very likely find something that makes sense to invest in. But do it because it saves time or increases profit . . . not just because it’s “cool.”