El Restaurante Mexicano Spring 2012 : Page 14

hh HOT TECH 201 2 Taking on Technology: RESTAURATEURS AND CUSTOMERS ARE EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY. WILL YOU BE LEFT BEHIND? /By Ed Avis T he staff at Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina in Pittsburg, Pa., knows something about technology. With a sous chef and a bartender who majored in computer science, and an owner who was a web programmer before a restaurateur, point-of-sale systems, Wi-Fi, Smartphone apps and social media pro-motions are just a normal part of business life. Free Wi-Fi, extra power outlets, a web-enabled security video camera system, web-based employee scheduling, point-of-sale that helps staff trace revenue trends, best-selling menu items and employee sales, plus technology that lets Owner Jeff Catalina post his tequila menu on an iPad are state-of-the art conve-niences Verde employs. “I heard about this iPad app, so I said, ‘Let’s pioneer this.’ We have 175 tequilas on the wall. When you look at them all on a paper menu all you see is a list, so hav-ing them on the iPad has been a huge help,” he says. The iPad menu includes information from the distillery and comments from the experts. “We have five iPads in the [60-seat] restaurant, and three or four are out in the dining room at any one time,” Catalina says. “I’m “We have five iPads not sure if it has helped in the [60-seat] res-sales, but it has definitely increased buzz!” taurant, and three Coming soon to Verde: or four are out in features that will allow the dining room at customers to post com-any one time. I’m ments, and Tweet or post not sure if it has to Facebook from the iPad. helped sales, but While you might not it has definitely in-qualify to play on Verde’s team of what Catalina creased buzz!” calls “self-proclaimed —Jeff Catalina, owner, Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina Tech Geeks,” it is im-portant to understand how today’s state-of-the-art point-of-sale (POS) systems, tablet computer ordering systems, and text-based and social media marketing programs can enhance customers’ experiences and your bottom line. Statistics Tell the Story Keeping abreast of technology trends can be time-consuming when you’re juggling day-to-day front-and back-of-house demands. But ignoring technology’s role is risky—especially since your competitors are paying attention, industry data shows. According to Hospitality Technology’s 2012 Restau-rant Technology Study, approximately one-third of res-taurant companies will spend more than $300,000 on technology this year; another third will spend between $75,000 and $300,000, and the remaining third will spend less than $75,000. “The greatest portion of tech dollars will go to hard-ware (30 percent), followed by software (20 percent), and internal personnel (18 percent),” the survey reports. “In 2012, the most important business goal impacting tech spending is the need to drive greater revenue (67 percent), followed by enhancing guest services (52 percent). In restaurants, productivity and efficiency reign as the most important business goal for technol-ogy projects (at 66 percent), followed by guest services (53 percent).” These companies aren’t making technology decisions in a vacuum: Tech-savvy customers are helping drive demand. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast, restaurant patrons are beginning to embrace the technology that helps restaurants hum. About half of consumers surveyed said they would be comfortable using at-table elec-tronic payment options and a Smartphone app to make 14 el restaurante mexicano

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