Leading restaurant ISVs never stop innovating. They equip their clients with the tools they need to meet changing consumer behaviors and expectations, influenced by technology advancements, generational preferences — or even a global pandemic.
A short time ago, Restaurant Manager, a Shift4 company, took up the challenge of developing a solution that improves order- and pay-at-the-table processes. There’s no doubt that these processes can have measurable benefits for restaurants, including faster table turns and the opportunity to focus on customer service rather than on orders or credit card transactions. Early iterations of tableside solutions, however, weren’t easy for servers to use.
Jay Shavitz, President and CTO of Restaurant Manager, explains, “It was difficult for servers to carry tablets and mobile printers, so they still had to walk to a terminal to print receipts.” That extra time and effort virtually eliminated the time-savings the technology was supposed to deliver.
Moreover, says Shavitz, some of the early pay-at-the-table solutions were light on features — they weren’t comparable to the functionality servers would have if they walked to a stationary point of sale (POS) terminal.
To improve on the pay-at-the-table concept, Shift4 created SkyTab, a total, ergonomic solution that stands out from competitive solutions in a variety of ways. SkyTab features robust software with all of the features of Restaurant Manager’s terminal POS, such as split checks and adding tips. Moreover, it’s fully integrated with POS systems and the Lighthouse Business Management System, so data from pay-at-the-table devices is automatically shared with the restaurant’s POS system. Integration with Epson receipt printers also provides an integral piece of a total solution that delivers pay at the table with increased productivity, excellent service, and delightful, loyalty-building customer experiences.
Shifting the Focus from Table-Side to Car-Side Orders and Payment
SkyTab users were poised for greater efficiency, higher table turns and increased revenues, but then, without warning, they’d need to innovate again. And this time, not just to improve operations and customer experiences. Restaurants needed solutions that would help them survive dining room closures. With social distancing as the only defense that government and health officials had to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants were limited to offering drive-through or walk-up service and pick up or delivery of online orders.
“Right now, and maybe for the long term, restaurant customers will engage in different ways,” says Shavitz. “We knew we had to help them adapt our solutions to keep their businesses operating.”
Restaurant Manager spread the message to restaurants to adapt SkyTab. The handheld solution enables a streamlined process in which staff takes orders car-side, and the solution transmits orders directly to Epson receipt printers in food prep areas. Because SkyTab accepts a wide range of payment types, customers have the option of using contactless payment methods, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and contactless EMV cards, to securely pay for their food without touching a shared device.
Shavitz adds, “SkyTab is both Wi-Fi and 4G-enabled, so servers can stay connected wherever they assist customers.”
Retaining More Revenue from Online Orders
When the pandemic forced restaurant dining rooms to close, ramping up restaurant online ordering also seemed like a logical move. Many restaurants didn’t have the technology in place, however, to accept online orders and payments directly. So, some turned to third-party services, such as GrubHub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash.
Although some third-party services offered discounts or deferred payments for restaurants during the crisis, there is a fee for using them — up to 25 or 30 percent of each sale. At a time when restaurants needed all the revenue they could generate to stay in business, paying third-party services was often not an option.
“Third-party ordering fees have been an issue for a while,” says Shavitz. “Our solution enables restaurants to accept online orders directly and hold onto their revenues.”
In addition to benefitting businesses, online ordering capabilities are also improving customer experiences in a time of social distancing. It gives them a greater sense of comfort and security to limit contact with restaurant staff and other customers waiting in line. Even drive-through or walk-up customers can order online and pay via their mobile phones. Within seconds, their orders are printed in the kitchen, and an Epson printer on the counter prints a receipt including the customer’s name.
Shavitz says his team has adapted SkyTab’s software to enable proper formatting for 30-character printers.
“It works seamlessly with Epson to produce perfectly formatted receipts,” Shavitz says.
Rising to the Occasion
Restaurant Manager knew its channel would be encountering businesses desperate for help in the wake of the coronavirus. The ISV met the challenge and provided its VARs with a solution capable of keeping restaurants operating and maximizing revenues.
To further assist restaurants, Shift4, Restaurant Manager’s parent company, waived costs of SkyTab devices and online payment processing fees during the crisis.
Because the Restaurant Manager team had developed a comprehensive, flexible pay-at-the-table solution, they were able to educate their clients on how to use it to overcome new pain points created by the current crisis.
Innovative. But that’s what leading ISVs do.