How to Make Your Bistro Touch-Free

Whether you're fielding online orders or swapping out menus, it's hard to ensure that all the surfaces in your restaurant stay clean. Even if you establish the right cleanliness protocols and do hourly sanitation checks, it might not be enough. Because of that, many restaurants are currently experimenting with a touchless approach. 

Popular delivery apps like Grubhub, Uber Eats, Doordash, and ChowNow now offer contactless drop-off. Some more tech-savvy brands have touchless payment options that work with their POS systems. Other brands are investing in online order system applications that streamline the ordering process. This can help you turn a profit while keeping customers and staff safe. 

If you're interested in developing a touch-free system for your bistro, here's what you need to know to succeed. 

Start with the right point of sale. 

How well does your online order system perform? Are you able to take a mobile app order and send it to your POS without touching too many devices? Do you also have a takeout and delivery station set up for quick, contactless order management? If not, you may want to think about which platforms you have and which you might need to invest in. Most of the time, this will start with your POS. Some POS systems don't have touchless capabilities. Unless you buy a newer credit card reader with tap payments, you might have to touch multiple systems when handling a takeout or delivery order. Your POS might not even integrate with your own website, which makes online orders more difficult. 

It's often a good idea to start with a software-based POS that can integrate with your online order system of choice. It should make it easier for customers to distinguish between pickup and delivery, set times, enter loyalty program information, and more. It also needs to connect to your own website. Since your restaurant website is your business's digital face, it's an important tool to drive online sales. 

Find a better online ordering platform. 

Depending on your curbside pickup or delivery platform of choice, you may be paying a higher monthly fee for something that requires multiple touchpoints to work. When you're taking mobile orders and online orders, you shouldn't have to interact with multiple devices and tablets. Your online order platform should offer POS integration, too. Because of this, it's often a good idea to look for online ordering software that isn't bundled with a corresponding takeout app. 

Previously, when a customer placed a pickup order and hit checkout on the app, the order would be sent to a dedicated tablet. If the customer ordered from Postmates, the order would go to a Postmates 

point of sale tablet. If they ordered from Grubhub, it would be a Grubhub tablet. That order would then need to be manually reviewed and entered into the point of sale system. This leaves plenty of user experience gaps and room for human error. It can also hold up your delivery drivers. 

Instead, it's good to look for a brand in the online ordering business that can work with your restaurant's website, POS, and the various delivery apps without depending on multiple devices. This is especially helpful for small business owners that can't afford multiple devices but want to reach potential customers on their food delivery platform of choice. This also increases your delivery options and can increase your revenue stream from credit card payments as well. 

An online ordering program removes most contact points during setup and is an affordable option that will benefit your customer base. This helps ensure that employees aren't regularly handling multiple devices to set up a new order or manage 86'd items. If you're going to switch platforms, though, look for one with a reasonable setup fee or a flat monthly fee, or reduced transaction fees. You don't want the commission fee to cut into your bottom line. 

Focus on digital menus. 

If you want the dine-in experience to be touch-free as well, you need to remove common touchpoints. In many cases, this means your menu. Instead, set up a scannable QR code for any table reservation that takes them to an online ordering option. The customer can then browse the new menu items and promotions from their mobile device and place an order in the app or a server. You can even include Facebook ordering for dine-in from your Facebook page. 

Using digital menus makes it easy to collect customer data and valuable insights on new customers and regulars alike. You can encourage email marketing signups for discounts, have customers fill out a profile with customer data, and review analytics on how different menu items perform. Especially as a result of COVID-19, small restaurants can use this added customer data to develop social media and marketing campaigns while also increasing business. It's an added level of customer support that provides bonus benefits. 

Restaurants that focus on digital ordering can also rethink inventory management and reduce contact levels in the stockroom. Digital menus can merge with inventory management systems to remove the need for physical counts while tracking ingredient levels. This helps you adjust your menu as needed and offer better customer service. Plus, many inventory management features have a smartphone or mobile app integration. With a few clicks in a mobile app, you can check if any foodstuffs need to be reordered or if you need to limit certain menu items. 

Don't forget about the bathrooms. 

For the ideal touch-free restaurant, you need to ensure that the bathrooms stay pristine. This means that you can invest in motion-sensing dispensers, contactless flushing, and hands-free drying. While you still need to conduct regular bathroom checks and adhere to a cleaning schedule, this helps customers and staff members feel safer while they're under your roof. Restaurants of all sizes can take advantage of touchless offers and technology. 

These days, it's more important than ever to focus on contactless options. They benefit diners, restaurant owners, and kitchen staff alike. It's the ideal setup to prevent the spread of any germs and keep your restaurant spotless. It even has the potential to benefit your bottom line.


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