Today, the phrase “there’s an app for that” can be applied to just about any personal or business activity. With a relatively low cost of entry and tremendous ease of use, it’s no wonder that businesses of all kinds have embraced apps and mobile technology as a way to stay competitive, growing, and profitable.

Like so many operations, restaurants thrive on efficiency and guest satisfaction. So it should come as no surprise that more and more restaurants are eyeing apps as an alternative or supplement to traditional guest paging, server paging, and table management systems.

In response to the rising demand, technology companies are busy creating and releasing apps for iOS and Android devices that allow users to seat guests more efficiently, deliver food faster, and turn tables more quickly than ever before. Typically, all the restaurant needs to take advantage of the technology is an iPad/tablet, laptop, or computer with a web browser and internet access.

HME Wireless is one company that has responded to the demand. Their recently released restaurant paging “app suite” combines guest paging, server paging, and table management services into one convenient package. (Or restaurants can download “a la carte” apps to suit their specific needs.) The app suite needs only a single transmitter — the iStation — and works with all HME Wireless pagers for seamless integration with a restaurant’s current system.

The proliferation of consumer cell phones and smart phones has made it easier than ever for restaurants to adapt this new technology. Across the industry, guest paging apps are reducing the need for traditional coaster pagers and allowing guests to be paged via text message on their own phones. The apps can also be integrated easily with existing guest paging systems to make it a win-win for operators.

Thanks to new technology, wait list management is no longer the complicated pen-and-paper affair it used to be. A simple app that links with the restaurant’s computer network is all it takes for operators to accurately gauge wait times. With reliable estimates at their fingertips (as opposed to guessing!), host staff are able to manage customer expectations with confidence and seat guests more efficiently. The result is a better experience for customers and more return visits for the restaurant.

Table turns are the lynchpin of restaurant profitability. The faster tables are turned, the greater number of guests can be seated, and the more satisfied customers are… it’s that simple. With table management apps, every staff member has the ability to update table status right from their own smart phone. With instant updates right before their eyes, hosts are constantly aware of open tables or tables that need to be bussed. That’s the hallmark of an efficiently run restaurant.

While service at the front of the house can make or break a restaurant, the quality and freshness of the food being served cannot be overlooked. Server paging apps allow kitchen staff to notify servers the instant their food is ready for pickup. And because the apps work with both existing restaurant pagers and cell phones (via text messaging), it’s easy for operators that are new to paging systems to get in the game. Today’s server paging apps also go beyond just notifying individual servers that food is ready. Now group pages and messages can be sent out to notify staff of shift meetings or menu changes.

There’s no doubt that apps and mobile technology have changed our daily lives. Now they’re changing the way that restaurants deliver service to customers and profits to the bottom line. Regardless of how the technology evolves — and there is no question that it will evolve — it will continue to be a win-win for both restaurant operators and their guests.

Expert Takes, Feature