Restaurant owners and managers always seek more efficient ways to run their venues. In the digital age, the tools available to hospitality businesses are advancing rapidly.
It’s a great idea to ensure that you are familiar with these tools and how they can be implemented in your venue. Read on for our guide to forms of automation technology available in restaurants.
Benefits of restaurant automation
The benefits of implementing restaurant automation technology in your venue are manyfold. Here are a few ways implementing restaurant automation tools may improve restaurant operations.
1. Faster service
Efficient restaurant operations allow your customers to get served quickly. The restaurant industry is hyper-competitive. Excessive wait times for food can be detrimental to your customer's satisfaction. Faster service means customers are more likely to return to your venue.
2. Better food
Improved efficiency doesn't just mean that customers get food more quickly. It can also mean their food is better. Consider implementing a kitchen display system in your restaurant.
This may help your chefs keep track of orders. It can reduce stress in the kitchen and prevent cooking mishaps. As a result, your guests get a better dining experience.
3. Cost savings
Profit margins for restaurants are notoriously slim. Automation technology represents an excellent opportunity for venues to reduce costs. For instance, robot waiters and robot chefs can reduce your need to have as many staff members. This can prove to be a major money-saver.
4. Greater consistency
Many forms of restaurant automation are still works-in-progress. At their best, they can significantly help to reduce human error in restaurants. This can result in all-around superior dining experiences for your customers.
11 restaurant automation tools
It is important to constantly refresh your knowledge and understanding of automation technology. That's why we have assembled 11 types of restaurant automation tools to be aware of.
1. Table management systems
A table management system is a great place to start a restaurant automation journey. These tools serve as hubs for a wide range of functionality your venue can take advantage of.
For example, the ResDiary restaurant reservation system helps you dispose of your paper diary. This allows your team to easily analyse restaurant capacity. You can also gain deeper insights into your venue.
ResDiary also boasts a wide array of integrations to optimise your operations. These range from best-in-class point of sale (POS) systems to easy access to a range of booking partners. It's the perfect way to begin implementing automation technology in your venue.
2. Online ordering systems
Any doubts that online ordering is a crucial part of hospitality were dashed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Online ordering quickly emerged as a critical way for restaurants to maintain revenue.
Automation can be implemented into online ordering systems in a number of ways. Consider using a POS system that integrates online orders and in-house orders. This makes it simpler to track inventory and sales data. Establishing workflows for employees is also simplified.
Online systems can also reduce the need for customers to ring up to place their orders. Some restaurants utilise an online menu or a first-party app. These allow customers to make orders with zero activity required on your venue's end.
Check out our complete guide to online ordering systems for more information. ResDiary customers can also enjoy a seamless integration of online ordering into their existing restaurant online booking system.
3. Online table ordering
Online ordering can also be implemented for customers inside your restaurant. This automation technology was popularised during the height of COVID.
It generally involves a QR code that takes customers to an online menu. From there, they are able to order and pay.
For some customers, an online table ordering process might be a simple preference. For others, it is a vital way to make the dining experience more accessible. This goes for customers who live with conditions that affect their speech.
Online table ordering can be an excellent way to give a superior experience for your diners. It can also help streamline operations in your venue.
With online table ordering, your waitstaff can save time going between tables. This frees them up to spend more time on other tasks, and can even reduce your labour costs.
4. Digital kiosks
Another option for automated ordering within restaurants is digital kiosks. Digital self-service kiosks allow customers to place orders via a large touchscreen. They are often seen in quick-service restaurants.
Research has been conducted on digital kiosks, elucidating their benefits. Studies indicate that customers place orders more quickly and accurately via digital kiosks. They may also be incentivised to spend more.
Having digital kiosks as an option in restaurants can boost customer satisfaction. Research indicates that 30% of customers would prefer to order from a kiosk than a human employee if the lines were of equal length.
Digital kiosks also have the benefit of reducing the workload on your front-of-house staff. This enables restaurants to reduce certain operational costs.
5. Automated phone systems
When your restaurant is utterly frantic on a Saturday night, the last thing you want to hear is a ringing phone. It is important to allow customers to make bookings and orders over the phone. But taking time away from tasks in your restaurant to answer calls is often burdensome.
This is why many restaurants choose to rely on automated phone systems. When your restaurant is too busy to answer the phone, these systems step in to take bookings.
The ResDiary feature ResPhone takes advantage of our reservation management functionality. It fetches availability directly from your account and automatically reserves tables. It is the perfect way to automate away one of the more tiresome parts of restaurant management.
6. Cloud-based POS systems
Other EPOS systems store information on a singular computer or machine. Cloud-based POS systems use the Internet for improved functionality and data collection. They can help advanced data collection take place more easily.
This helps identify popular dishes as well as inventory management. Cloud-based systems allow you to use different POS machines with a central connection.
You can have your systems set up at reception, the bar and the dining room. All systems will be subject to the same real-time updates and can send data easily.
7. POS displays
Another useful tool that can be integrated into your venue is POS displays. These innovations take the form of screens that show what is being put into the POS system to the customer.
This automates away the need for your employees to repeat a customer's order back to them. They can see how each element of their order contributes to the final price. Sales taxes and surcharges are also tracked.
POS displays are an excellent way to streamline the customer interaction process. They improve transparency with your diners and ensure orders are taken accurately.
8. Kitchen display systems
Congratulations! Your orders have been recorded perfectly thanks to a cloud-based POS system.
Now, how can you ensure they reach your kitchen with no hiccoughs along the way? The answer is a kitchen display system.
Kitchen display systems replace the need for handwritten order tickets. They generally integrate with POS systems to display orders within the kitchen.
Kitchen display systems help to remove human error from taking orders to the back of house. They also reduce time spent communicating between these areas of your restaurant. This gives each section more time to focus on its core tasks.
9. Robot waiters
One of the most oft-discussed forms of restaurant automation is the robot waiter. Once the product of science fiction, robot waiters are now a reality in the food industry.
As of now, the functionality of robot waiters is somewhat limited. Most models specialise in delivering food to tables with trays.
However, some developers are pushing the technology forward. Recent innovations include on-screen ordering and the ability to interact with guests.
Robot waiters are often made available to restaurants via leasing programs. These programs are often far cheaper than the price of a human employee.
As a result, you can use robot waiters to lower your labour costs. This increases your restaurant's profit margins.
This technology is still in its early stages. As a result, your human front-of-house employees will still be a necessity for some time. For more information, check out our complete guide to robot waiters.
10. Robotic chefs
Why limit cybernetic assistance to front-of-house operations? Just as robots have been developed to help replicate the role of waitstaff, they can also be used in the kitchen.
Here is a quick overview of some robotic chefs currently on the market:
- Flippy 2: Flippy 2 is designed primarily to operate fryers and grills. It is in place in American fast-food franchises such as White Castle. Miso Robotics charges a USD $ 5,000 installation fee for Flippy 2 and $3,000 monthly service costs.
- Moley Kitchen: A far more advanced robotic chef system is designed by Moley Robotics. This chef consists of 2 robotic arms that can cook over 5,000 recipes and clean up after itself. Prices for the Moley Kitchen start at USD$335,000.
- OctoChef: This food preparation robot is designed by the Japanese company Connected Robotics. It is designed to make the popular street snack takoyaki. Connected Robotics charges a recurring monthly fee of ¥250,000 (~USD$1,680).
These fees might be prohibitively expensive for your restaurant. But if you can find ways to implement them in your venue, it could reduce your back-of-house operation costs.
The full disruptive potential of robotic chefs has not quite arrived. However, it is worth considering how you can start implementing them in your venue early.
11. AI tools
Artificial intelligence has proven to be a major leap forward in the world of automation. It provides entirely new realms with which industries can digitise creative and repetitive tasks alike.
One of the best uses for artificial intelligence is content creation. From your menu to your marketing efforts, test out language models such as ChatGPT or Claude and see how they can help with your goals. You can also turn your words into imagery with tools like Midjourney and DALL-E 2.
Integrating AI into back-of-house operations can also have a powerful impact on your restaurant. Machine learning can provide a game-changing insight into your restaurant's financial situation, your inventory management and more.
AI is also being used to supercharge technologies like robot waiters and robot chefs. While the long-term impacts of AI on hospitality could be truly staggering, there is plenty of functionality to take advantage of right now. For more information, check out our complete guide to AI in restaurants.
Enjoy the benefits of automation with ResDiary
Staying one step ahead of the competition is always top of mind for any restaurant. ResDiary is the perfect starting point.
Digital table management helps make your inefficient paper diary a thing of the past. It also helps you track factors of your restaurant like inventory management. It boasts over 60 integrations including a wide array of advanced EPOS systems.
ResDiary includes a free, built-in email marketing solution. You can also make use of ResPhone, an automated phone service.
This game-changing integration takes bookings when your staff are too busy to answer the phone. Book a free demo today to uncover all the ways ResDiary can set your venue up for success.