As the world shifts to fit the mold of the ‘new normal,’ corporations are changing their entire business models in an attempt to operate in conditions that are safer for staff and customers alike. Industries are evolving before our eyes, at unprecedented speeds. We are actually seeing industries adapt in real-time, day-to-day, and the transformations are huge. Arguably, the industry that’s seeing the largest amount of change is the restaurant industry. At first, it seemed like ‘dining out’ was something we would have to learn to live without. The issue felt very black and white. Either you went to a restaurant and acknowledged the risks of doing so, or you stayed at home and avoided it. And it felt like a big loss; however, behind the scenes, the industry was actually advancing rather than regressing.
Before we recognized the need for change, restaurants operated by a fairly standard system. Customers entered a restaurant, checked out a physical menu, placed their order with the staff, paid for their food, and left. It seemed to work, but it was slightly flawed. Beyond the health concerns which have been brought to our attention, the flow of the system was off and full of gaps allowing for human error. One of the most important driving forces behind a successful restaurant is accurate timing. We’ve seen it before: A customer waits longer than usual for wait staff to take their order or refill their drinks, and the result is a disgruntled interaction with the manager and probably a lousy tip. Even if it was not due to anything within the server’s control, that customer’s view of the restaurant is set: It’s slow. What’s more, is that the turnover of that table is also considered delayed for the next customer. This is just one scenario in a vast pool of potential misgivings that the system allowed for. It was able to float under the radar, until now.
What pushed change wasn’t the flawed system, but rather a magnifying glass placed over the business as a whole as the world raced to reconfigure in the name of health precaution. Serendipitously, other issues were solved in the process. We’re talking about the future of dining. When contact became an issue, restaurateurs had two pressing problems to solve: How do we make in-restaurant dining and pick-up ordering contactless? Upon working with developers and welcoming technology, we’ve figured out that ordering off of a menu doesn’t actually require anyone to hold a menu. And, a pickup order is something that can be done without a hand-to-hand exchange of food or money. Through companies like FreshBytes, the customer can take control of the operation by browsing the menu, ordering and paying directly from their phone.
The benefits of a QR based menu are plentiful. On the one hand, they don’t have to worry about coming into contact with materials that many others have also come into contact with. Additionally, customers can view the menu before wait staff even drops by the table and they can make their dietary modifications right there from their phone. It eliminates the potential for the he-said-she-said scenario that takes place daily in restaurants should a modification not be met in any given order. It also saves time for the wait staff who no longer need to write out or punch in a ticket. In addition to ordering the food, they can also pay the bill without touching a receipt or even pulling out a credit card, as the FreshBytes system keeps customer cards on file which encourages repeat patronage.
While we hope that fear surrounding health will dispel and return to a neutral, but cautionary, state, there’s no reason for restaurants to go back to the way things were. Given the benefits of contactless dining, going back would be regressive. The new normal we’re seeing is the future of the restaurant experience and provides a range of benefits to both the customer, the staff, and the restaurateur.