Typically, technology issues in restaurants are not something your staff can handle on their own. They tend to be costly to solve, a hindrance to your customer experience, and flat-out cumbersome for your staff.
However, while a lot of these tech problems require external support, there are several issues that, with the right guidance, can be quickly addressed in-house. A review of nearly 19,000 IT help desk tickets—opened by owners and staff of 80 different restaurants—revealed an overwhelming number of these are related to internet service and POS hardware, which are issues you can prevent and fix yourself.
Below are five common tech headaches in restaurants and how to solve them on your own.
IS YOUR INTERNET DOWN?: Central to any restaurant’s tech stack should be a highly monitorable and automatically notifying network. Networks with a cloud-based controller (such as Cisco’s Meraki platform or Ubiquiti’s UniFi suite of products) can and should be configured to generate notifications when devices are no longer broadcasting they are online. Make sure someone on your team is receiving these notifications and they actually do something about it. If your router and access points are showing as disconnected, chances are it’s the internet connection. Know where your internet service provider’s gateway or modem is located, and make sure your team knows to inspect it. There are lights on that device that will nearly always tell you whether it’s online or offline. If your team can interpret whether the internet connection is working or not, they will also save themselves a 15-minute call with customer service. Obviously, a POS with a robust offline mode can help, but even better is a reliable failover strategy that you didn’t procure from your Internet Service Provider.
ORDER UP … OR NOT: These new consumer behaviors aren’t going anywhere, and guests are ordering in more often, making online orders comprise a greater portion of your revenue. That’s why one of the most common issues we deal with every day is online and third-party orders not flowing into the POS system. Tablet farms are a joke: get rid of those third-party delivery (3PD) tablets and use an aggregator or pay for the integration fees. Think of it like this: aggregators free up your staff to focus on the guests, rather than poorly and inaccurately transcribing orders from a 3PD tablet into the POS. Why do all that just so the kitchen can see the tickets? It’s a cheap way to reclaim half of an employee during peak hours when you’re already understaffed.
CAN YOU RESET MY PASSWORD?: We spend a lot of time helping people dig out from issues related to user licensing, passwords and quirky mail clients. Our expert advice: don’t do that. Use Gmail, and insist everyone in your organization access their email through a web browser. It always works and is easily managed: if you can set up a user in your POS system or scheduling software, you can probably manage their email account. By doing this, you can avoid hiring IT people to manage your email servers and provide desktop support.
THIS POS IS BROKEN: We fix 98 percent of problems remotely, including POS hardware issues. You know what that means? Your team can fix these issues just as easily (especially if they are standing right in front of the devices). Most resolutions come down to the basics. Turn it off and on, make sure cables are seated properly and always use a hardwired connection on a printer or POS terminal when possible. Buy an extra POS terminal before you need it, buy an extra Epson U220B (the workhorse in nearly every kitchen) and remind your team they can do it themselves. Fixing a printer on their own during service is better than walking around the dining room with a phone to their ear.
THE SOUND OF SILENCE: Truth be told, audio problems are only number eight on the list of our most frequent solves, but a silent dining room is WEIRD. Food tastes different without music, so have a plan. It’s absolutely fine to run a streaming service on your audio system, but consider hardwired alternatives/options when possible. And have an offline source of music available as well, such as an audio player with storage and the ability to plug directly into your amplifier. When the internet goes down, you can still thrill your diners with a great playlist while they eat.
If every operator follows the strategies above, there might be fewer trouble tickets and less work for restaurant technology experts. Hopefully we’ll meet in the middle, and restaurant staff can focus on their guests. Less tech stress means better hospitality.
Andy Freivogel is co-founder and CEO of Science On Call, the 24/7 help desk for restaurants, including Michelin-starred eateries, large hospitality groups, and franchisees of national brands. For more information, please visit: scienceoncall.com.