GoTab was launched in 2016 as a mobile payment provider and in 2018 added contactless ordering to our offerings. We developed these contactless ordering and payment best practices as a guide for restaurant operators.
In the early days, it was an uphill battle to convince hospitality operators to take the leap of faith. Would they disrupt their status quo operations to change the way guests order and pay? Everyone wanted to increase order sizes and keep more profit. Most needed our help figuring out how.
We helped them figure it out by sharing contactless ordering and payment best practices developed from hundreds of installs. Operators can use these best practices to implement faster. With these tips, they can improve the experience for their guests and their employees.
We think these contactless ordering and payment best practices are now more important than ever.
1. Remember that guests come for the experience.
Restaurant operators are facing a huge effort just to produce and serve great food. But we also want to deliver a great experience because that’s what guests crave. With so much focus on “going contactless”, it’s important to take steps to make sure your guests feel welcome and supported. Yes, ordering and payment is important. It’s only a small component of the overall dining experience. In this new environment, take steps to:
• Elevate your servers to guides: be intentional about how you greet and introduce your guests to your establishment. The ordering and payment process has changed. Make sure your guests are ready for the change.
• Be attentive to your guests’ needs. Yes, they can order on their own. But when they order on their own, they still need your support. Help them navigate the menu or find something new to experience.
2. Make staff training a priority.
Contactless ordering and payment involves a significant change in front-of-house operations for your guests and your staff. Over the years, we’ve found our most successful operators commit to and invest in staff training.
For your guests, try to make the experience seamless. Beyond the enhanced control and flexibility they gain from browsing and ordering on their phones, they should barely notice a difference. To minimize the difference, make sure your front-of-house team learns the guests’ perspective. You should plan to have your staff practice the new order and payment process as if they were guests. Make sure that your contactless order and payment provider offers a demo environment for this purpose.
Staff Need More Support Than Ever
Staff need your support. Take time up front to eliminate unnecessary steps. Find ways to maximize contactless interactions with guests. For example, when guests order for themselves, they make fewer errors. Staff can spend more time on other tasks that make the dining experience more safe and enjoyable. They can enhance sanitation practices in restrooms and other common areas and consult with guests on menu and cocktail/wine pairings. Carefully review these process changes with your team so that they’re clear where to invest their time.
Espita embraced changing their ordering and payment system to adapt to the current climate, which includes putting the safety of their community at the forefront of their operations. Instead of ordering from a waiter face-to-face, guests scan the QR code at the table, view the menu, order, and pay through their phone. This allows the restaurant to minimize contact, make staff more available to sanitize and clean the restaurant. They aren’t bogged down with orders. “They’re bussing tables, they’re wiping things down, they’re making sure everything is sanitary, they’re cleaning bathrooms constantly. It’s allowed us to focus on what actually matters right now,” says co-owner, Joshua Phillips.
3. Map traffic flows and the physical layout of your space.
Depending on local guidelines, your venue(s) may be operating with limited outdoor and indoor usable square footage. Staff counts are likely lower. This makes for a challenging combination. Restaurants are juggling new traffic patterns while trying to reduce the physical and mental burden on staff. With contactless ordering and payment, think about the placement of tables and QR codes using a logical pattern. This makes it easier for your staff to understand and recall.
One of the lesser known benefits of contactless ordering and payment is the ability to customize your menu. You can organize based on the physical layout of your space or the time of day. Offer a simplified menu on the patio or at slower periods of the day when staff counts are low.
Long-time GoTab customer Caboose Commons took advantage of their unique physical space. “We have two garage door windows so we opened both and one was focused on ordering and the other for pickup,” says Caboose owner Jennifer McLaughlin.
4. Take time to ensure your QR codes are customized and branded for your venue.
With so much changing in the dining experience, try to be consistent. Make sure that the QR codes you use fit well with your physical space and your brand. There are a variety of creative ways to do this well.
Depending on your guest profile, you may find a lot of guests still prefer browsing a paper menu. Feel free to provide one. Your guests may find them easier on the eyes because they follow the “natural order” of a meal. Inexperienced guests can find comfort in having them available to browse.
5. Plan for virtual help and real-time feedback.
Touch-free ordering and payment platforms will make it easier for your guests to communicate with you. Maybe before they would flag a staff member down to ask for a new order, make a change, or ask a question. Now they may prefer to use the same device they are ordering on to communicate with you. Make sure your staff are prepared to respond to in-bound texts and emails. Have a process in place to answer questions that you can’t get to in real-time.
Be prepared to receive direct feedback on the experience, both the good and the bad. The best hospitality operators obsess over the guest experience. Touch-free ordering and payment will let you get more feedback on a more timely basis. This is valuable information. If you act on it, it can make a real difference in guest satisfaction.
6. Incorporate rich imagery and multimedia.
Because you can customize your touch-free ordering and payment menu with engaging imagery, you can get beyond simply displaying your menu to actually selling it. With a user-friendly menu design complemented by high-quality photography, you can make the menu browsing experience both informative and enjoyable. And you’re not just limited to photography. Savvy operators are incorporating video into their contactless menus to make the browsing experience more immersive and engaging.
Stone Brewing, the largest independent craft beer distributor in the US, uses GoTab as an experience platform. Stone’s Founder Greg Koch, shared a “Father’s Day Flight” with Stone Fans through their GoTab menu.
7. Amp your social presence with ecommerce features.
Your contactless ordering and payment platform can also serve as an ecommerce storefront. Take advantage of the same rich imagery you share with your brand loyalists on visual platforms like Facebook and Instagram by directing followers to where to buy. While it may not generate a significant revenue stream, particularly in the beginning, it can offset some of your social media costs and provide new ways to maintain brand loyalty.
8. Get cozy with your data.
Your contactless ordering and payment platform should allow you to get a holistic view of customer and sales information. Consider monitoring metrics such as:
• Learn what sells when by tracking Sales Per Hour & Per Shift (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
• Spot trends in guest patterns by monitoring Tabs Per Hour & Per Shift
• Figure out what to push harder by reviewing Top Selling & High Margin F&B Items; Greatest Hits & Platinum Margins
• Review your Product Mix (PMIX) to plan better
• Monitor Customer Feedback to get a clear view of the guest experience
• Analyze Purchase and Repurchase Patterns to identify your most valuable guests
Savvy operators are gaining greater insight and control of their end-to-end customer experience using metrics like these to manage their operations, improve their customer experience, and increase their profitability.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these contactless ordering and payment best practices. Feel free to reach out to us if we can help in any way.