Why Self Checkout? Why Taby?

Self Checkout is becoming more and more a part of our everyday life. Restaurants like Olive Garden or Chili’s have spent millions of dollars to outfit their restaurants with tablets on every table to deliver a self checkout experience but why do they do it? Do the customers really care and what is in it for the restaurant to spend that kind of money? In this article we will review the data on what customers think of self checkout and why restaurants invest in this technology. We will also review why Taby breaks down the traditional barriers of self checkout and delivers a more desirable experience.

Business Insider says the average American eats out 5.9 times per week [1]. If two of those are at full service restaurants the average 70 year old American has spent 202 days of their life eating at full service restaurants! According to Olive Garden having a self checkout option reduces their table turn time by 10 minutes per table [2]. This means the average 70 year old American has spent over 50 days of their life waiting for their check, that is crazy! Olive Garden has reported that 85% of their customers use the tablets. This tells us that either 85% of their customers go to Olive Garden just for the tablets or 85% of their customers think the traditional way to paying their check is a pain. You be the judge but the data doesn’t lie about what people think.

We can clearly see why customers like self checkout but why would a restaurant spend millions of dollars for this? There are three main reasons restaurants utilize a self Checkout experience

  • Reduced Wait Time means more money- A common restaurant may have +/- 35 tables and when 30 of them (85%) spend 10 minutes less at that table then the wait time at the front of the house, waiting to be seated, is reduced by 300 minutes.[1] This can happen 3-4 times on a busy evening allowing restaurants to reduce over 15 hours of wait time for their customers waiting to be seated. Typically restaurants don’t have wait times that exceed an hour and a half as most people who come in and find a wait time longer than 40 minutes leave to find another restaurant. Self Checkout allows restaurants to serve nearly 30 additional tables in the same amount of time on any given evening with the same amount of staff. The customers that previously went somewhere else due to wait time now get to eat at the restaurant they chose to come to which results in significant impact to the amount of money a restaurant can make with the same amount of staff
  • Increases Repeat Business- Restaurants know the most important visit for a customer is their first visit and their first experience with that restaurant. If a customer’s first experience involves extensive wait times then they are less likely to return. First impressions are HUGE! In addition to capturing more first time visitors Self Checkout brings more repeat business from various types of customers. Business people who want to eat at a full service restaurant for lunch but need to be back to work by 1PM care a lot about 10-15 minutes waiting for their check. The same can be said for the group of friends going to a sporting event or concert. Every parent knows the nightmare of taking little kids to a full service restaurant and having a terrible two outburst happen half way through a meal. Having an option to get out fast can be a make or break decision on whether full service restaurants are even an option for them. People don’t decide where to eat based on a technology but they do make decisions based on experience and technology can significantly alter a customer’s experience
  • Step Change to Experience- When servers are not focused on running credit cards and checks back and forth they spend their efforts with an increased focus on food and beverage. They spend less time clogging up their point of Sale and more time with their customers. A server that has a four hour shift with four tables is likely to turn 19 to 23 tables in one evening. They are likely to spend one hour to an hour and 10 minutes just running credit cards and checks that evening. That means that 25% of their shift is dedicated to a task that pulls away from the food and drinks your customers came to experience. Servers like self Checkout because they can now turn 23-28 tables in the same four hour shift and they walk away with an extra 15-20% in tips on 4 to 5 additional transactions. Not only that but if for some reason they get really busy their tip is never reduced due to wait times at checkout.

So if the return on investment is so clear why have so few restaurants implemented a self checkout Technology? Up until very recently the only true self checkout option for full service restaurants was to have a tablet on every table. There are several reasons why restaurants have not implemented tablets on every table. Some restaurants don’t like the idea of having electronics on a table that may distract from the ambiance and personal experience customers build in their restaurant. The biggest reason is the challenges that are involved implementing tablets on every table and maintaining them. Not only is it a large capital investment to purchase tablets with card readers and printers for every table but there is a lot of cost in setting up a powerful network and installing custom software on each of the tablets on every table. Once it is installed the tablets need to be charged daily and when a tablet breaks the restaurant needs to have a dedicated IT person that can manage warranty issues vs. damage due to liquids or falls. The hardware needs to be refreshed once every 3-5 years or when credit card security standards change. This results in high costs to maintain and it requires restaurants to have their own IT dedicated to supporting this. You will find most companies that sell tablets on every table do not even consider restaurants with fewer than 5 locations, this is because there is a significant effort required from the restaurant to make the implementation successful.

Taby Self Checkout uses a different approach by putting an intelligent QR code on every table. Each QR code is unique so when it is scanned Taby’s software knows what restaurant and what table number that person is sitting at. Taby’s software works on any Point of Sale to bring the check data out of the point of sale on to any Android or IOS smartphone. There is no app required to make it work and most generic QR code readers or cameras will work to bring the check directly to the restaurant customer. With a few clicks and about 8-10 seconds the check can be paid, they can leave a review and choose if they want to opt in for email marketing. Taby uses a standardized software solution that makes most installations complete in under an hour and takes all of the complexity of network and security out of the picture. In addition to Taby handling all of the back end there are no electronics on the tables because Taby uses the customer’s smartphone to make the checkout work over a PCI compliant web application.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/what-people-spend-on-dining-out-2019-8#:~:text=Whether%20it%20be%20grabbing%20a,and%20it%20can%20get%20costly.
[2] https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-rctom/submission/table-top-kiosks-the-future-of-restaurant-point-of-sale-systems/