New Tech Tools Aim to Boost Restaurant Sales
The foodservice industry is poised to outpace the economy for the 12th consecutive year with sales expected to reach $632 billion, a 3.5 percent increase over 2011, according to the National Restaurant Association. And restaurants will reinvest a lot of this money in technology that gives them an edge
To boost sales even more, several restaurants are adding new technology, which will improve customer satisfaction—or, at the very least, lure curious customers in. Here are the current top 5 innovative tools sweeping restaurants.
1. Touchscreen Food Vendors. Digital boxes like Coca-Cola's freestyle soda fountain and the MooBella Ice Creamery Machine have the capabilities of producing more than 95 variations or their classic treat in seconds. This is perfect for cafeterias, fast-food restaurants, and other self-serve establishments. A MooBella device costs $20,000; Coca-Cola's Freestyle can be leased for $320 a month. Although Coca-Cola's Freestyle costs around 30% more than a regular fountain machine, the benefits—and numerous drink options - could be what brings your customers back time and time again.
2. Tablet Restaurant Management. This iPad app provides "real-time views of tables, catalogs the menu by selection's name or ingredients, processes sales and delivery tickets and sends orders to the kitchen!' New eateries or those looking for a complete overhaul of their system will benefit most from this. It costs $99 for access on one iPad and up to $399 for 10 iPads.
3. Automatic Biodiesel Converters. Springboard Biodiesel has completely renovated fuel production; their "BioPro automated processors kick out industrial grade biodiesel in small batches after you pour in used vegetable or animal oil."This converter is especially good for restaurants with fryers, as it takes the waste oil and turns it into car fuel. The BioPro is the cheapest and lowest capacity processor, at $9,995. It converts 50 gallons of used cooking oil per batch—however, other materials like sodium are also necessary to make the oil-to-fuel conversion.
4. LED Alert Systems. This system is specifically designed to illuminate the floor or wall for time- sensitive tasks, like when the dishes are dry and can be used. Perfect for kitchens where several languages are spoken, this color-coded alarm is unobtrusive but extremely helpful. This system will be beneficial in any kitchen.
5. Webcam-Enabled Monitoring. "Pairing advanced algorithms with high- quality cameras, Vision Enabled Training from Elmwood Park, N.J.-based Sealed Air records employees in food preparation areas and other workplace settings to detect any noncompliance with health regulations and safety codes." This system helps track employees' actions, which helps give management a clearer understanding of whether they need to reinforce training. The appeal of this will be beneficial to large businesses— especially those with several branches. Prices vary on the number of monitoring stations needed and what task they are monitoring.