Updated: Apr 27
I remember a number of years ago (15+) dining at a downtown restaurant in Holland, Michigan where at the conclusion of lunch the server brought a device to the table where he swiped my credit card. I thought at the time wow this is cool, I am sure I will start seeing this everywhere. It turns out that this restaurant was a little ahead of its time and technology.
The restaurant was a European based theme and the manager spent a lot of time in Europe and at that time the pay at the table technology was taking off there. He was excited to introduce this technology to our area.
Unfortunately for him and the restaurant, the technology at that time was based on cell phone service, the devices to swipe the cards were extremely expensive and a signature was required for all credit card transactions. This meant that the handheld device also had to serve as a printer.
After trying out the technology for a few months they ended up having to stop using it. The cellular service was unreliable, the device printers kept failing, and because of these things the customer interactions were awkward.
Today it’s a different story. Pay At The Table and Contactless Payment are becoming a reality thanks to much-improved technology and changes in how credit cards are processed. Thanks to tablets where you can sign your name on the screen, chip-based credit cards, and the use of PIN’s it is now easy, affordable, and efficient to use a Pay At The Table system.
It is also becoming way more acceptable to customers and even desirable to have pay at the table as an option. According to Nerdwallet, 68% of customers report a better table experience when Pay At The Table is used. They reported that it felt more modern, smooth, and secure.
Additionally, as a benefit to the customer and the restaurant, table turnover is much quicker! It has been reported that it is 15% or quicker. The same Nerdwallet article stated that this was 8 minutes or quicker per table! This means less waiting time for customers and more efficiency for profitability for restaurant owners.
Major Chains like Chili’s, Red Robin and Olive Garden have brought pay at the table, literally to the table as they have placed touch screen stations at each table! Thanks to companies like ePat this technology is available to the locally owned restaurant as well.
With the low price of android based tablets and even smartphones, a local restaurant can have a server place an order, rack the order, be notified of when the order is ready, and then be paid for the order all from the same device. This all happens while the robust back end of the system tracks all costs, expenses, and food and supply ordering needs.
With the ultra-low margins that restaurants operate on technology is no longer an option. Gone are the days of paper slips, conventional cash registers, and order when you see you are low inventory systems. To be successful and most importantly profitable, a restaurant must capitalize on today's affordable, powerful, and efficient driving technology.