Five Ways Technology Is Impacting the Restaurant Industry Right Now

Technology is impacting nearly every aspect of our lives and it will for the foreseeable future.  This is true for our personal lives and it is more true than ever in the way we work.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the restaurant industry.  Whether it is the way customers pay for their meals, how restaurants interact with customers to even how some restaurants are repurposing used oil to power delivery vehicles, technology is drastically changing the restaurant experience.  

How Restaurants Communicate with the Public

Technology is drastically changing the way in which restaurants communicate with their customers and potential customers.  Customers turn to the internet for information on just about everything.  If your restaurant is not easily found on the internet, it can have a big impact on the amount of new customers you can acquire.  In order to have a presence online, most restaurants turn to either a website, social media or both to communicate with their customers.  One thing many forget about is to sign up for as many lists as possible.  Yelp, Yellow Book, White Pages, Trip Advisor, Urbanspoon, etc. are just a few that are used by many restaurants.  The easiest way to determine which place you need to list your business, just do a Google search for: restaurants in (your location).  Whatever websites show up in your search are sites that are being used in your area and you want to be listed on. 

Social Media

Social media allows restaurants to build their own individual brand and reach out to diners online like they never have been able to before. For many small business owners, it is leveling the playing field with national chains who have much larger marketing budgets.  Successful restaurants now are taking advantage of Facebook, Twitter, and many other social media platforms to reach new customers, generate buzz for their restaurant, and to share unique content.  Social media is allowing restaurants to extend their bond with their regular customers. Some restaurants even choose to have their chefs speak directly with their customers via YouTube or Facebook Live.  Other restaurants update their daily specials, give tips about healthy recipes or an event going on at the restaurant or in the area.  This adds an additional way for restaurants to build stronger relationships with their customers. 

Mobile Technology

Because of the importance of having a website and using social media to communicate with your customers. It is equally important to make sure all of those websites are easily accessible via mobile devices.  The two most important design techniques to deal with this problem are called responsive and adaptive designs. It does not really matter which type you use for your website, but it is crucial for your website to be easily accessible on a mobile device.  According to a study done by search engine land, 60 percent of all searches are done via a mobile device. Because so many searches are taking place on mobile devices, it is crucially important for a restaurant to have a website that is accessible to customers using a mobile devices and it is equally important to have a presence on the sites where people using a mobile device commonly search.   

Online Reviews

Restaurant reviews have always been a rite of passage for new restaurants. Blogs and social media have turned things upside down for the restaurant industry. Online reviews give the customers the ability to talk about their experiences immediately. This can spread good news far and wide, but it also has the potential to allow harmful reviews to spread more quickly. 

Patrons are able to talk about their experience online immediately, which can either spread priceless awareness and publicity or leave a restaurant open to potentially harmful reviews. Learning to deal with bloggers and online reviews is important for any restaurant making a name for itself today.

Increased Risk for Restaurants

Data breach and cyber liability insurance are now needed for most restaurants.  This is no longer just the case for larger national chains. Data breaches are becoming one of the most dangerous risks that far too many businesses fail to protect themselves. It does not matter the size nor the scope of your business, hackers are targeting you.  Several of the largest data breaches in history were by first accessed by hackers first gaining access to a smaller business who was a vendor of the larger business that was ultimately hacked.  The Target and Home Depot breaches were both started by hackers first gaining access to smaller businesses that had access to the larger company’s internal computer systems.  Most businesses do not survive if they do not have adequate data breach insurance. Depending on the revenue of your business, most data breach policies can be purchased for only a few hundred dollars.  This is important because according to a study done by IBM and the Ponemon Institute the average number of records stolen in a breach is 24,089 resulting in an average cost of $3.62 million. Granted some of these numbers are squed by much larger businesses with much larger breaches, but according to the same study the average cost for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information was $141 in 2016. Unless your business has a few million dollars laying around for when a data breach occurs it may be wise to secure proper insurance coverage.