Putting POS in the palm of your hand

TISSL's Stuart Coetzee extols the virtue of mobile POS devices.  As tools in a restaurant's armoury that can speed up ordering and table service and make for happier diners, more upselling and increased table turn, they are hard to beat.

Businesses such as Livebookings.com tell us that bookings made using smartphones or tablets are inexorably on the rise.  So if mobile devices can increase bookings and add to the eating-out experience before a diner even enters a restaurant, how can they make table-side ordering and service work better for both parties?

Mobile devices are great upselling tools.  A traditional fixed-point terminal can generally cover between 25-30 diners in a full-service environment depending on the layout of the restaurant. A handheld or tablet can cover around 50-60 without a drop in efficiency; even more with a strong system of runners. Having your best customer- facing staff equipped with mobile devices not only increases throughput but also significantly increases upselling.  Our clients report an increase in dessert sales and additional drinks in sections where handhelds are employed.

Handhelds also have the advantage of being able to be used in outside areas. While running extension leads and cat5e cables can often severely damage the efficiency of a system, a tablet can be used in an outside area with the access point tucked neatly away under cover, away from the elements. As large numbers of tablets can run through each access point, once the infrastructure is in place it's very easy to scale up as needed.

We've recently trialled giving diners the ability to order directly from their smartphone, and the results were impressive.  As well as reduced hardware costs, the upselling of drinks and desserts hit 20%.  This app' is being further developed to automate upsell features and link them directly to the user's dining history.

Tablets are amazing, especially for managers who pride themselves on their service skills. When running TISSL EPoS, a table plan can be viewed - meaning managers can instantly spot tables that are suffering from slow service, are waiting for food or need to pay. It's a real bonus to have this information to hand and to be able to instantly give discounts, make voids, see counts of 'specials' and perform other managerial functions without having to return to a fixed-point terminal.

Mobiles are great devices for the sommelier too, providing a real-time count of the number of bottles remaining in stock, with warnings preset to alert staff to recommend alternatives  if certain bottles are running low or out of stock. With this level of automation and instant data access, sommeliers are freed up to spend more time on the floor doing what they do best, offering expert advice and service.

Queue-busting is undoubtedly the optimum method of handling takeaway and counter-based services as it breaks down ordering, payment and food delivery into three separate steps – and here mobiles are unbeatable. While customers queue for food, a staff member goes up the queue and takes orders. As another staff member on the till is taking payment, your first staff member is simultaneously taking new orders. A third staff member can be introduced to deliver food if the volume of trade is high enough.  Using mobile devices to take orders effectively turns a 3-4 terminal operation into a single, slick operation which increases sales.

TISSL client, Stein's Fish & Chips Restaurant in Padstow, is a fan of mobile devices.     The team has found that 55 quality meals can be served in 15 minutes using a single queue-busting device; such is the effectiveness of the process!  Queue-busting releases kitchen time, allowing chefs to cook more intricate meals whilst still providing fast service. As restaurants can then turn more meals and offer better quality, queue-busting is a sure-fire winner.

We all know that the customer experience can make or break the fortunes of a restaurant.  When combined with well-trained and attentive staff, mobile POS can unquestionably bring greater speed and efficiency to the point of service, and that makes for satisfied customers.

Do you agree with Stuart's views on using mobile devices for ordering and service?  Do you have experiences to share?  Email him at stuart.coetzee@tissl.com.uk

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