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6 Ways Kiosks Help Restaurants During a Recession

The COVID-19 pandemic has created supply chain challenges all over the globe, leading to an extended period of economic downturn that many fear will soon turn into a full-blown recession. While consumer demand has remained relatively high, labor shortages and the rising cost of goods have created plenty of obstacles for businesses of all sizes.

This volatility has businesses across all industries hopeful that economic recovery comes sooner rather than later. However, restaurants and other food industry businesses have been impacted especially hard: 51% of restaurants report that they now have at least $50,000 in new debt due to the pandemic.

In the face of a looming financial crisis, utilizing new technologies is one of the best ways for restaurant owners to build a business model that keeps costs low and revenue high. In this article, we'll explore six powerful ways that INFI's innovative restaurant kiosks can help small businesses and large chains alike better navigate today's economic turmoil.

1) Enhances Restaurant Operations Overall

Self-ordering kiosks can improve the overall efficiency of your restaurant's operations, allowing you to process orders more quickly so that you can serve more customers. Restaurant kiosks eliminate much of the need for communication between your staff. Along with streamlining food service operations, eliminating the need for your staff to communicate a customer's order also reduces the likelihood of human errors that could further harm your sustainability and bottom line.

Fast food and quick-service restaurants (QSRs) such as McDonald's used self-ordering kiosks to streamline restaurant operations long before the coronavirus pandemic. As more and more restaurants search for ways to return their margins to pre-COVID levels, boosting efficiency with self-ordering kiosks is poised to become an increasingly common solution.

When you can improve the overall efficiency of your restaurant operations, you can serve more customers, avoid waste, and improve the customer experience. All of this can go a long way toward helping your restaurant thrive in the current economy.

2) Makes Ordering Online Easy

The popularity of ordering takeout has been on the rise even before social distancing was a concern, with numerous food delivery apps such as Doordash and Uber Eats coming onto the market in recent years.

In the early stages of the pandemic, online ordering was the only option that most customers had available. Restaurants might be reopening their doors now, but the popularity of online ordering is a trend that is likely here to stay.

The problem is that partnerships with food delivery services don't come without a cost. Doordash, for example, charges restaurants anywhere from 10% to 25% of a menu item's cost for orders that are processed through the Doordash app. At a time when margins are already low, shaving away that many percentage points is more than many restaurant owners can stomach.

But the good news is that you don't have to partner with a third-party food delivery service provider to benefit from online ordering. Along with self-service kiosks, INFI's industry-leading POS solution for restaurants also includes the ability to create a well-polished app for your website that allows customers to place orders directly from the app.

By enabling your restaurant to offer online ordering without signing away a substantial percentage of its profits, INFI empowers you to access new markets and generate more sales. And when it comes to surviving a recession, few things are more beneficial than generating more sales.

3) Allows You To Optimize Your Menu

Choosing the right food products and pricing for those products is a key element of any restaurant's success. With INFI self-ordering kiosks, you can optimize your menu even further for maximum profitability.

One way that self-ordering kiosks can help you optimize your menu is by increasing your average order value with targeted product recommendations. For example, you can program the kiosk to recommend sides and a drink when a customer orders an entrée. Or you can program the kiosk to recommend dessert items that customers might not otherwise consider.

Another way that self-ordering kiosks are able to generate a higher average order value is by making customers feel more comfortable browsing your menu. When customers are standing in line with an employee waiting to take their order, they often feel rushed to order as quickly as possible. When ordering online or at a self-ordering kiosk, customers are more likely to take their time.

More times than not, giving customers more time to browse your menu will lead to larger orders. In the words of McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook, “What we’re finding is when people dwell more, they select more. So there’s a little bit of an average check boost.” By increasing your average order value with online ordering and self-service options, you can ensure that every customer your restaurant attracts brings as much profit to your business as possible.

4) Keeps Labor Costs Down

One of the most obvious and impactful benefits of self-ordering kiosks in the restaurant industry is that they can reduce a restaurant's labor costs. When your customers are able to place orders without the help of an employee, you can reduce the number of people you need to employ to keep your restaurant operational.

In today's labor market, where quality help is growing harder to find, the ability to reduce your dependence on human labor can be highly beneficial. Of course, reducing costs is likewise an essential initiative when it comes to surviving a recession. By both lowering your labor costs and ensuring that your restaurant is able to continue efficiently serving customers — even if you're understaffed, like so many restaurants are — self-ordering kiosks serve as a powerful tool for navigating the current economy and labor market.

5) Provides Valuable Customer Data

Self-ordering kiosks allow you to collect information from every customer who places an order from the kiosk, including the customer's contact information. You can then use this customer data to power marketing initiatives geared toward your target demographics.

Remember, you don't want to bog down your ordering process by requiring customers to fill out long forms before they can complete their order. Instead, simply give customers the option to sign up for your mailing list. This can deliver substantial returns, promoting customer loyalty and providing your business with a rewarding new marketing avenue to explore.

6) Improves the Customer Experience

Many restaurant owners fear that utilizing automation will negatively impact customer experience. But when it comes to self-ordering kiosks, consumer surveys find the opposite to be true. According to one 2019 survey, 30% of respondents say they would rather order from a self-ordering kiosk than with a staff member.

Attracting more customers is one straightforward way to help your restaurant thrive during a period of economic slowdown. Along with helping you serve customers more efficiently and increasing your reach via online ordering, INFI's self-ordering kiosks can make your restaurant a more alluring dining option. By incorporating self-service kiosks with your loyalty program you can elevate the experience even more, offering incentives to customers who spend $X, or visit a certain number of times.

By improving your customer experience with self-ordering kiosks, you can generate more repeat customers and word-of-mouth marketing alike — both of which can help foster the steady business that restaurants need to keep the bills paid when GDP continues to decline in North America.

Enhance Your Restaurant Operations With INFI

If you would like to leverage the power of automation in order to poise your restaurant for success no matter what the global economy throws your way, there are plenty of excellent reasons to choose INFI's industry-leading self-ordering kiosks.

With INFI kiosks, you can look forward to all of the innovative features you need to boost efficiency, lower costs, and reach new markets. This includes customizable menu options with the ability to build in upsell opportunities, a user-friendly app for online ordering, the ability to accept a broad range of payment options, and much more.

At INFI, we are proud to partner with fast-casual and quick-service restaurants across the country to help them streamline their restaurant operations, lower labor costs, and improve customer experience. If you would like to see how INFI kiosks can help your restaurant thrive during these challenging times, sign up for a free INFI demo now!

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