Turn your walk-ins into regulars with digital ordering

Those of us in the restaurant industry are always looking for ways to increase efficiency. And with the leaner staffing and unpredictability that comes with COVID-19, it’s even more important for everything in your restaurant to run as smoothly as possible. That’s why digital ordering has fast become the new norm. It’s an easy way to increase efficiency while giving guests what they want.

Based on OpenTable’s most recent survey, 73%* of diners in Australia said that they want restaurants to keep offering contactless payment, ordering, and menus. You know digital ordering will help increase operational efficiency and customer satisfaction, but it can be challenging to find a solution that’s right for your restaurant. The good news is you can now offer digital ordering with OpenTable—and reap plenty of benefits.

Empower your staff to do more

Digital ordering is a simple way to allow each server on your team to get more done in less time. Giving them a tool to serve more guests without compromising on a high level of hospitality and personalised service can significantly boost morale. Everyone likes the feeling of a job well done and satisfied guests.

The labour shortage has left many restaurants unable to serve their usual capacity despite the high demand. As a result, servers and diners alike often spend more time waiting than they should. Digital ordering takes unwelcome, awkward delays out of the equation. It frees servers up to run food quickly to more tables and connect with guests by answering questions, fulfilling requests, and recommending additional menu items diners might enjoy, such as after-dinner drinks and dessert.

Digital ordering is almost like having an extra pair of skilled hands in the dining room. Plus, when diners can directly place their orders using their phones, the risk of things getting lost in translation drops significantly. It cuts down on order errors, which decreases costly food waste, makes diners happier, and allows your restaurant to serve more people overall.

Maximise your kitchen and venue potential

With digital ordering, you can customise menus throughout your space. For example, you can allocate bar tables to the bar menu and patio tables to an outdoor menu. You can also tweak the menus available based on your real-time staffing resources. Run out of your daily special? No problem. Avoid disappointing guests by removing it from your menu right away.

It’s also possible to offer limited menus (such as a drinks-only menu) in areas that aren’t meant for regular seating. For example, you can set up a zone for guests waiting to be seated. Here, guests can order drinks, appetisers, to-go items, or whatever you decide makes sense. Overall, digital ordering will enable you to reimagine your space and make it work better at different moments so you optimise dining operations and avoid the opportunity cost of closed capacity.

Digital ordering isn’t restricted to on-premise guests. It helps you bring your restaurant to people even when they want to enjoy your food from home or the office. It makes takeaway and delivery more visible because these options appear right on your OpenTable profile. Guests see everything you have to offer at a glance.

Make digital ordering your own

The ordering experience itself is another way diners interact with your brand. You can customise the ordering site with your restaurant’s recognisable branding, complete with all the images, fonts, colours, and wording your brand includes. That’s a significant improvement over what happens when a diner uses a third-party app to order their takeaway or delivery.

Know more about your guests than ever before

Having guests preferences on hand can yield insights on making them happy and bringing them back again and again. Little things like remembering someone’s name can mean a lot to people—in fact, according to our most recent diner survey, 86%* of diners say they’re likely to return to a restaurant that makes them feel like a regular.

Without digital ordering, a walk-in guest can remain relatively anonymous, and whatever you learn about them during their visit can’t be as effectively captured. But when walk-in diners use digital ordering, it automatically creates a new guest profile or attaches them to their existing profile. If a guest arrives and is put into the system as “John Blue Jacket,” digital ordering, which prompts guests to enter their phone number or email address, ensures he’ll be connected with “John Smith,” who already has a guest profile.

All guest notes can be collected, organised, and used in the future to offer more personal hospitality. For example, when VIP and repeat guests use online ordering, the front-of-the-house staff can review what they’ve ordered in the past. This enhances the guest’s experience because servers can make better recommendations or know exactly what little extra the kitchen could send out to delight them. At the same time, it helps managers better understand guest spending and ordering.

This information can help you stay connected with guests after their visit as well. You can use the information you gleaned from digital ordering to send more personalised marketing emails. For example, if you’ve learned a guest loves craft beer, you can reach out to tell them about an upcoming beer dinner or rare keg release. When you can capture these personal details, it becomes easier to send them emails relevant to their interests and keep them coming back.

Review powerful insights

When you capture orders via online ordering, it provides valuable data to help understand trends as they emerge and spot areas for improvement before problems develop.

This information helps offer the best service possible even in less than ideal staffing conditions, but it also benefits the bottom line. The centralised view of digital ordering data provides a deep understanding of what people want. Over time, you can use this information to confidently drop underperforming items from the menu, which is helpful whenever the need for a limited menu arises. You can also drill deeper into best-loved dishes by tracking details like how often it’s ordered according to visit type. These findings can help you optimise the menu to maximise guest happiness and profits while minimising food waste. You can even use this intel to shape your marketing strategy.

On the surface, giving diners a way to order their food on their phones seems like a small thing, but between freeing up servers to get more done and giving guests more of what they want, the benefits can be a big deal.

Maximise your business with digital ordering. Get started with OpenTable today.

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*Source: January 2022 OpenTable Diner Survey in Australia

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