Pay at the Table makes it more convenient for the guest to checkout but does the restaurant get anything out of the deal? Does it help us reduce costs or make our jobs any easier? Do I get my money back with 10X returns?
YES and YES and YES! In this article we are going to take a look at what is in it for your restaurant.
Pay at the table solutions are not all cheap although costs of some pay at the table solutions are astronomical compared to others. (Read related articles below) For our illustration we are going to show you how the most expensive pay at the table solution, tablets on each table (like Ziosk), can make each restaurant location over $800,000 in additional revenue each year. Many publicly traded restaurants have boasted their returns to shareholders so it easy to show it and break down the value. The money for Self Checkout Pay at the table can be found in three main avenues: Increased table Turns, Decrease server workload, Drawing in new clientele.
Darden announced in 2015 that 80% of their customers were using Ziosk tablets for pay at the table.  The average Olive Garden has 35 tables so that means that 30 of those tables will pay using Ziosk tablets.
80% X 35= 30 Tables
Darden also announced in the same article that the average decrease in Table time per guest was 10 minutes per party. This means that those 30 tables that paid using Ziosk saved Olive Garden 300 minutes of wait time at the front of the house.
30 Tables x 10 Minutes= 300 Minutes
That’s fantastic but each restaurant has about 6-8 guests that may sit at the same table on one busy evening. That means you need to multiply the 300 minutes saved by 6 parties because those same 30 tables paid with Ziosk Tablets 6 times in one evening.
300 Minutes x 6 parties= 1,800 Minutes
This means that the wait time at the front of your restaurant was reduced by 1,800 minutes in just one evening! This means that this one location can seat an extra 60 guests on one busy evening. Now we are going to multiply the average table check by the 60 additional guests they sat in one night.
60 guests x $90= $5,400
Restaurants typically see really busy nights on Friday and Saturday nights so we need to multiply the $5,400 by 2 and multiply that by the 52 weeks in a year.
$5,400 x 2 Friday and Saturday = $10,800
$10,800 x 52 weeks= $561,600
OK… OK…. OK… You are skeptical because that is not necessarily new business, just faster business. This is a common misconception amongst restaurants but why? Once your wait time goes over 30 minutes you begin to see the people that don’t show up when called to be seated then at a 40 minute wait time that number goes up exponentially. Most restaurants don’t track the number of “no seats” because they are as busy as they can be, that’s good right? Well not if you can do something about it. If someone leaves your restaurant on a Friday night because you are busy do you think they are going to come back on a Friday night soon? Not likely because your reputation preceeds you and they did not get to enjoy their experience with you.
Does this mean I can run my restaurant with less staff? Not necessarily because the servers are now busy turning tables faster and serving new guests that filled their spot. In some restaurants we see a server might be able to watch one additional table but we frequently see the servers running more food and beverages in a shift resulting in keeping them just as busy as before.
Let’s take a look at the time savings though on running checks. Previously the average server took 2-3 minute for each table checkout. If you ask them they will find that to be pretty insignificant. Now let’s assume that server is watching 4 physical tables that night and they had back to back seatings resulting in 25 guests (tables) they served in a four hour shift.
25 guests x 3 minutes per checkout= 75 minutes
That means that more than a quarter of their entire shift was dedicated to running paper, cards and pens. Not to mention all of the back and forth clogs up the point of sales with a server touching the point of sale 3 times for each transaction. This means restaurants are spending more money on point of sales for each location than they need to. Cutting a POS per location could result in up to $10k in savings per year per location. Again you won’t see much of a decrease in staff due to the increase in number of guests seated however your cost per guest starts to drop quickly as each server is serving an extra 5-7 guests per shift. How would your servers like getting an extra 20% tip on 7 extra checks per shift? Do you think that would help you retain more wait staff?
We are not going to dive into too much detail on what new customers you draw because we out line this in detail in another article here. That being said we see these customers bringing an extra $300k per year to each restaurant location. This is a little more qualitative in nature because it becomes difficult to measure but the article we wrote on “Why do guests care about pay at the table?” outlines it very clearly. The summary is you bring in more lunch customers from neighboring employers, you bring in more event goers who have a time and place to be (ie. concert, theatre, stadium, mall) and you bring in more repeat business because they don’t have bad experiences with wait times or your servers not focusing enough on food and beverage. Food, beverage and customer experience is all your servers do now!
The value is very clear even if you buy the most expensive solution on the market. The things you need to consider are: Do Tablets fit the atmosphere of my restaurant? Can my restaurant sustain tablets? They bring a lot of extra work that require your IT department to be very involved. We recomend you look at alternative options like Taby that offer the same experience with a lot less headache.