Compare 4 common Pay at the Table Solutions

You’ve made the decision to make the jump! You know pay at the table can help your restaurant but where do you start? (if you are still uncertain read here) There are so many vendors with so many options and they all claim to be the best. Your restaurant is unique and it is challenging to sort through the information.

This article will help you understand the latest options on the market and look at the pros and cons for each solution so that you can determine what fits your location. We will look at two assisted payment solutions (Hand held tablets and QR codes on receipts) and two self checkout solutions (Table Tablets and Fixed QR code on the table) that all fall under the pay at the table category.

To clarify the difference let’s look at this from the guest’s perspective. Traditionally when a guest decides they are ready to leave they need to wait until their server comes by that can attend to them, then they need to wait to receive their bill, then they need to wait a third time while the server runs the bill and credit card through the Point of sale. According to Olive Garden this takes an average of 10 minutes. [1] Of that 10 minute time only 2-3 minutes require the server’s presence or attention.

When looking at time there is customer wait time and server work time as it relates to taking payments. Assisted payment solutions cut about 2 minutes out of the traditional checkout by saving the server the back and forth between the table and the POS. Self Checkout solutions cut the entire 10 minute wait for both the customer and the server. (see figure above) Two minutes may not sound like a lot but the average server with 4 tables can turn between 18-25 tables in a 4 hour shift so those two minutes multiplied by 25 table turns add up to almost ¼ of their whole shift.

25 Tables * 2 minutes/ Guest= 50 minutes out of 4hr shift = 21%

With an assisted payment solution the server can expect to help one to two more guests per evening. The value of self checkout is that the table is turned 7-8 minutes faster than the assisted payment option totaling at 10 minutes saved. When you multiply this by 20-25 now that same server can serve an extra 5-7 parties in the same four hour shift. The server's work doesn't decrease because they are helping more guests but they make 20%-25% more tips in the same 4 hour shift by helping more guests.

25 Tables * 10 minutes per Table = 250 minutes = 7 more Guests

This also reduces your wait time at the front of the house by 250 minutes just from that one server with four tables. In a restaurant with 35 tables that could be over 2,000 minutes of wait time eliminated at the front of the restaurant each night!

One important factor to consider is how many tables do I have and how busy do we get? If you suffer from long wait times at the front of the house self checkout brings a great return on investment. We have another article, here, where we give you a simple math approach to determine if self checkout would bring a return to your restaurant. There are still some non-payment related benefits to having assisted payment solutions which we will get into as we look at specific options.

Assisted Payment

Handheld Tablet

The hand held tablet is a tablet that a server can carry with them to assist with taking the guest payment immediately. Companies like Toast, Square, Clover and SkyTab do this today. As we mentioned previously this is an assisted payment solution so it saves your guest about 2 minutes of their time and it can save your server almost an hour of their shift. One of the benefits of some of these is that they are also integrated with their point of sale for taking orders. This saves your server another minute or two because your server can send orders to the kitchen from the table.

QR Codes on Receipt

With COVID-19 we have seen an increase in QR codes for menus in restaurants and now they have surfaced on receipts. This qualifies an assisted payment solution because the guest still needs to wait for their server to bring the bill. Once they receive the bill there is a QR code at the bottom that allows the guest to scan with their smartphone and pay the check online. One of the benefits of this is many POS throw this in as a free upgrade. Toast and Clover are two examples of this.

Self Checkout

Table Tablets

Table Tablets are found and many places like Olive Garden or Chili’s that use Ziosk Tablets. Each table has a tablet and the guest may pay on that tablet and leave at their convenience. According to Olive Garden the 10 minute wait they used to have is now ZERO. [1] Table Tablets have been around since 2014 and there are a lot of public articles about how the restaurants that have implemented them have received value from them. That being said many vendors that sell tablets will not help smaller restaurant chains. This is because installing tablets requires the restaurant to have a decently established IT staff to support them. There are many things that can go wrong with tablets like batteries failing, network interference, spills or breaks, printer failures etc. Not to mention the purchase and installation is not cheap, you can get a better picture of costs in our cost comparison article here.

QR Code on the Table

The fourth solution is a fixed QR code on each table and NO we are NOT talking about putting a menu on a QR code that is so 2020! In this case when the guest scans the QR code the check from the point of sale shows up on their smartphone. Just like the Table Tablets are unique to each table and pull the check from the POS each QR code is unique so it knows which check to pull from the POS. Taby is well known for this technology. Once the QR code is scanned they can pay their bill and leave with the same ZERO wait time Table Tablets like Ziosk offer. Since this uses your guest’s smartphone to operate it does not require an IT team to install and maintain and the purchase and maintenance price is a fraction of the cost of Table Tablets.

When you are considering which type of pay at the table solution you should choose here are a few points to consider. Does my restaurant get long wait times to be seated at a table? If you do, does your restaurant track the number of people that come in but never get a table because they go somewhere else? Does your restaurant get a lot of employees that come for lunch or are you located enroute to an event destination ie. stadium, concert, theatre? Areas with businesses around them or near events need to be able to turn tables much faster to seat all of the demand. What is your budget and what are your restaurants capabilities to manage the solutions mentioned above? What solution fits the theme of your restaurant?

Related Articles:
How much does Pay at the Table cost?
Taby vs Ziosk and why Taby is 4% of the cost