Why do 90% of Americans care about pay at the table?

I can spare you reading this entire article, here is the answer: BECAUSE IT’S A PAIN!!!! The data clearly shows us that 92% of Americans use self checkout technology when it is available. [1] My personal record wait time to get my servers attention and ask for a check was 40 minutes! We were taking the kids to a movie after dinner and I couldn’t pay my check. This was not normal for that restaurant but I think some of the staff missed a shift that night and they were slammed busy. It happens… This article breaks down who pay at the table appeals to and why guests care.

Why do guests care?

This boils down to convenience. In the book “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail” [2] by Clayton Christensen he discusses how new technologies play a big role in the failure of businesses. He outlines four levels in which businesses compete for business and they progress in this order.

Function - As an example this would be the first restaurant to serve food.

Reliability- As more restaurants pop up the restaurant that is dependable in quality of service and quality of food in a timely manner wins the majority of the business.

Convenience- This would be the restaurant that makes the experience the easiest from what do I order, how do I order and how/ when do I leave.

Price- Finally when all is equal price becomes the deciding factor in the decision making process.

He talks about how convenience is often overlooked by companies because companies don’t look at themselves through the guests/ customers lens. As a restaurant owner you are very familiar with the importance of having quality and consistency in your food but do your guests really care about convenience? You run a full service restaurant so is convenience really what customers look for?

I am going to make a point that is going to make you wince but we will make our point! At first you may be insulted but here me out. Today McDonald’s market cap is $153 Billion Dollars and Darden who owns the most full service restaurants is $17 Billion Dollars. We all know McDonalds is cheaper and food that is well… meh… but they are worth 9X Darden. Why is that? McDonalds’ focus is on speed of food service and convenient locations that are highly trafficked. They may not have better food but they make more money! You can't just focus on product.

OK, OK, OK your’e not buying it let me give you three more examples of companies that ate their competition's lunch by making the customer experience more convenient. Amazon became popular way after eBay and they are both in the same business essentially. Amazon made it’s focus to make everything more convenient for their customers from one click purchases, subscription purchases and never having to leave the house because of FREE shipping to your door. They also made the process of being a vendor on Amazon 10X more convenient. They provide ware houses and make it so easy for people to sell products on their website. Simply ship them the materials and sit back to watch Amazon Prime while they handle the logistics of fulfilling the orders. Today Amazon is $1.5 Trillion and eBay is $38 Billion. How about Apple? Everything they do makes it more convenient for you to engage in communication with others and engage with your media. What about Netflix? Netflix ate Blockbuster's lunch simply by making movie rentals convenient. All of these companies make more money, more profit and their customers rave about them. Do you think your customers care about your restaurant's convenience?

Who does it appeal to?

There are some very specific profiles of customers that pay at the table appeals to and depending on your restaurants’ physical location pay at the table is a must! Do you have a lot of offices around you or potential employees of other businesses that might have lunch at your restaurant? Do you have any event locations near you (ie. mall, theatre, concert, stadiums etc.)?

Employees like to dine at full service restaurants but their lunch break is often 60 minutes. That means they have 60 minutes to drive to a restaurant, get their food, pay their bill and drive back before 12:59PM. When you look at it this way the average 10 minute wait that customers experience during checkout at a full service restaurant is a huge number. ( Read here to understand break down of wait times in full service restaurants) A Self Checkout Pay at the table solution eliminates the entire 10 minutes of that wait time which attracts more lunch customers.

Event Goer- If you have a common event place (mall, theatre, concert, stadium) or you are enroute from a well populated area to one of these then your restaurant may receive increased traffic from event goers that are meeting up at your restaurant. These event goers often have a specific time to be at their event and having a predictable wait time to be seated and a way to have self checkout at the table is a critical factor to where they eat because your restaurant is not the main event of that night, it is the event they are going to that is important. (Read how self checkout reduces wait time at the front of the house here.)

In summary if you thought customers don’t care about convenience you may be missing something pretty critical in your business today. What other companies do you know that made something more convenient than their competitor and because of that stole the competition? When you are looking at Pay at the Table solutions be sure to carefully analyze which solution is the most convenient experience for your customer.

Related Links:
Which pay at the table solution should I get?

[1] https://www.digitaltransactions.net/ziosk-responds-to-covids-impact-on-restaurants-with-more-point-of-sale-products/
[2] https://claytonchristensen.com/books/the-innovators-dilemma/