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7 Key Takeaways From INFINET’s Webinar With a Former Panera VP

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

Keys for Restaurant Digital Transformation

Last week, INFINET had the pleasure of collaborating with Grey Media to participate on a panel of QSR experts to talk about how restaurateurs can still increase their business without dine-in service operating at full capacity. INFINET’s CEO Lucas Liu joined Melody Roberts, a former VP at Panera and Head of Customer Experience at McDonald’s to talk about how take away, mobile ordering, and online ordering can drive business.

Many gems of knowledge were dropped in the session, however, we zeroed in on the most important highlights to consider when optimizing a restaurant for business in the COVID 19 era.

Get your regulars to adopt first, and they will teach the others

When adding new wrinkles to the customer experience, whether it’s new technology, ordering systems, or seating; there will be an adjustment period. While you can’t educate everyone, a restaurant owner must be sure to connect with their regular customers regarding new changes, with the aim of getting them to adopt.

From there, your regulars will then teach other customers how to navigate the changes, becoming advocates for your restaurant. This tactic is much more efficient and authentic, building even more enthusiasm for your restaurant, and the changes you have added.

Use your network to see what about your systems are intuitive

Whenever we create something, we the creators understand exactly how to use whatever it is we have created, for example a self-order kiosk. Even so, someone completely new to a kiosk for example, might not find it as intuitive right off the bat.

Therefore it is crucial that a new system is piloted by new users in order to understand what they don’t find intuitive. Find someone in your network, have them use your new system, and have them voice what they do not find intuitive. This doesn’t need to be a survey that includes hundreds of people, but enough to make necessary changes that make the system as intuitive as can be.

If you’re making promises, can you keep them?

Sometimes, in order to drive business, promises are made to the customer. Want to promote your delivery service? A common promise might be to get the customer their order in an hour or less.

Something to consider when making those types of promises is, do I have the staff? Do I have the right tools and resources? While there’s nothing wrong when making a promise to your customer, make sure that your resources are aligned to uphold said promise. If not, it could be costly.

Remind customer 2-3 mins before their order arrives

Timing and logistics are key factors in maintaining an efficient delivery system, and every minute counts. When a delivery courier has to wait those extra few minutes trying to contact a recipient, that directly affects the arrival of every delivery thereafter.

Roberts saw this in her time at McDonald’s, and remedied it by implementing a notification that lets the recipient know that their order will arrive in the next 2-3 minutes. That way they are at their door, in the lobby, or simply aware and ready to receive the order; enabling the courier to move on to their next task.

Go lean and identify waste

Roberts referenced the book Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, highlighting the need to identify waste and get rid of it. Although she wasn’t talking about restaurant cleanliness.

Rather Roberts was highlighting the need to realize what is sufficient, and not adding on to it. Be it staff, technology, menu items, etc. there becomes a certain point where any additions are essentially wasteful.

An important takeaway - “It is never the fault of the human, it is the fault of the system.”

New systems - what works well for your menu? Ex: Panera

We live in a copycat society where new innovations are rapidly adopted amongst entire industries and competitors. However, just because what works for the restaurant on the other side of the block doesn’t mean it will work for your own.

When Panera instituted their new Rapid Pickup option, Roberts noted it was a success in large part due to the fact that Panera’s food keeps well. Therefore when customers ordered ahead, there wasn’t a loss of quality when an order sat around while waiting to be picked up.

FOH, BOH connectivity

In the hospitality industry, battles are won and lost in the handover from FOH to BOH. Having technology that allows for seamless communication between the two is a building block for any food service operation.

Liu has seen this time and time again in his past experiences as a restaurant owner. Especially in a QSR operation, the ability to get an order directly from the restaurant’s point of sale system to the BOH staff increases efficiency greatly.

That connectivity was a paramount feature when he was building the InfiKIOSK self-ordering POS system for restaurants. As a kiosk doesn’t involve human labor, being able to get an order to the kitchen without a staff member’s help is the first thing his clients were looking for.

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