The History of Hand Held Terminals in Restaurants
The desire for restaurant hand held terminals and wireless restaurant software has been around since the invention of the electronic cash registers in the 1980's. When restaurateurs saw the power of the electronic cash register how it stored and recalled orders, how it dispersed orders to various kitchen and preparation printers and how it helped control the flow of the restaurant the desire to have this power in the palm of your hand has been there. It is only recently that technology caught up to the demand.
In the 1990's a couple of companies introduced hand held terminals to restaurants with limited success. Displays were small and therefore limited menu items. Battery life was short and limited use. But the demand was still there because the tremendous benefits to the restaurant owner.
I distinctly remember a trip to an NFL game where the stadium food provider used Seiko hand held terminals to take orders from customers sitting in their seats. I was about 6 seats from the aisle and placed an order for a drink and a hot dog fixed the way I wanted. The server took the order, told me the total and I passed the money down to her. As I was receiving my change my food arrived from the kitchen! Now THAT is service.
More recently, restaurant software companies took advantage of the PDA craze and their technology and adapted their software to these devices. Screens became larger and could display entire menus. Battery life was extended and we had "hot swap" batteries that allowed you to swap a battery without losing the program.
Table service restaurants began entering orders at the table and having food runners deliver the food. The server/waiter only had to leave the floor when it is time to print the check.
Quick service restaurants began taking orders in the drive through ahead of the speaker box. Others began creating entire sections for curbside ordering where the customer parks and a server with a hand held takes their order and payment then the food is brought out to them.
With hand held terminals restaurants began providing a speed of service only dreamed of before.
The Need for Tablets in Restaurants
Today, tablets from Apple and others have taken POS technology to a new level of efficiency while lowering the cost of ownership. Touch screen tablets have dramatically reduced entry level costs while software takes advantage of the high speed processors and network capabilities offered by these tablets.
To be able to take orders at the table or car, receive payment and have the food delivered with amazing speed of service. Thereby increasing table turns and customer throughput.
The tablet needs to be reliable, durable (they do get dropped) and easy to operate. The battery needs to be able to last for hours. The database must be automatically backed up to the cloud via a wireless connection.
The network needs to be able to handle several terminals without slowing down the entire system. In some cases, the network needs to extend beyond the walls of the restaurant so additional customer may be served in patios, parks and parking lots.
The Solution Tablets Provide Restaurants
Through the use of wireless routers and wireless access points an entire restaurant can be set up for tablets for every server/waiter/manager. Additional wireless access points may be installed outside the restaurant to give broader coverage and allow for taking orders outside the restaurant.
We have one customer who walks across the street to a park and takes orders. The server collects for the food, even swipes a credit card and the system processes the approval without the server having to go to a terminal. A food runner brings the food to the person who is still sitting/laying in the park.
Servers/waiters are able to enter orders and take payments at the table. Managers are able to authorize voids, check sales and other manager functions from their tablet. Imagine the ability to view reports on a tablet or to approve a void without having to go to a terminal. All these things are possible with restaurant tablets.
The Benefits of Tablets to You
In Quick Service, if you were able to increase throughput to handle only 4 more customers per lunch rush at $5 per order, you would enjoy a similar $600 per month increase in revenue.