March 1, 2017 |

Upgrading Tech

By Pizza Today

Five ways to enhance the customer experience

pizzeria menu on an ipad

It can be tough to fully understand the vast array of tech options available today — let alone implement them into your pizzeria operations.

While technology can help increase sales and boost the guest experience, a third of restaurant operators say their places are lagging in tech use, noted the Restaurant Technology Survey 2016 released by the National Restaurant Association.

To maximize the effectiveness of a technology upgrade at your place, make sure you first comprehend how it works, advises Glenn Cybulski, World Pizza Champion and co-founder of Persona Wood Fired Pizzeria. “Instead of just buying or using something in the restaurant, know how it is going to impact the bottom line and affect profitability.”

Follow these ideas to keep your customers satisfied and coming back for more:

1. Have a mobile friendly Web site.

If you’ve taken the time to build a Web site or improve it recently, you’re headed in the right direction. Making sure your site can easily be seen on a phone or mobile device is the next step.

Young adults spend about five hours a day on their phones, according to research funded by the University of Lincoln. “Chances are, that is how they will discover your pizza restaurant,” points out Jimmy Woodard, chief business officer at Routine Solution. “If your Web site is not optimized to look stunning on a mobile device, then you’re throwing away the biggest opportunity to bring in new customers.”

To upgrade, talk to a Web designer about your restaurant’s brand, target market and goals. Together you’ll be able to create a mobile-friendly site that attracts, and retains, a growing list of clientele.

2. Accept mobile payments.

Just as customers might first learn about your place through their phone, they may also prefer to make a credit or debit card purchase with their mobile device.

“For both efficient service and peace of mind that payments are being transacted with the utmost security, it is imperative that restaurants have payment systems that accept virtually all payment types and are developed with built-in fraud protection,” explains Jim Allen, head of small business solutions at First Data.

If your system isn’t already set up to take mobile payments, talk to your current provider about the possibility. Look for a mobile payment and credit card processing solution that seamlessly integrates mobile wallet applications and cloud-based mobile payment solutions, suggests Allen.

3. Offer a digital loyalty program.

“In addition to providing consumers with a new way to make payments, mobile devices represent a new channel for merchants to communicate with their customers,” explains Allen.

If you give diners the chance to keep track of rewards and promotional offers on their device, they’ll likely appreciate the streamlined, paperless setup.

“We have a very simple loyalty program,” notes Cybulski. After signing up, customers use their phone number to tap into rewards and learn of specific offers.

“We have a 20- to 25-percent increase in sales when we use our loyalty program to incentivize customers to come in to the restaurant,” adds Cybulski.

4. Implement a smart operations system.

“Several years back we had clipboards with prep checklists,” recalls Shawn Randazzo, president of Detroit Style Pizza Co.

“Employees would grab a clipboard and checklist and that would be their road map for the day.”

That all changed when Randazzo opted for a central operations system. Today, “we have an iPad in the kitchen and in the back as well,” he says. The system serves as a central place that contains recipes, training videos, employee handbooks, processes and more.

Employees log in to the system and follow a checklist pertaining to their position. They can mark off tasks as they are completed, follow instructions and make notes as needed. The setup has provided a layer of tracking and accountability that has enhanced the restaurant’s productivity and appearance.

“It’s been really effective for us,” remarks Randazzo. “Times have improved, the store is cleaner and customer service is superb.”

5. Try geofencing marketing strategies.

As its name implies, geofencing refers to setting up a virtual fence around a specific geographic area. When consumers enter that space, they can receive messages, coupons, or other information about your place.

If you use geofence marketing, you might send out directions to your pizzeria or information about an event going on to individuals within a three-mile radius of your restaurant. Consumers who spot the ad may be enticed to come in for lunch or dinner or take advantage of a promotional offer.

Another option: ask those you work with about their technology offerings. “It’s one of the things we look for when we choose vendors,” states Cybulski.

If your vendors have a geofencing setup in place, they can send out discounts and special promotions about your place when consumers are in a specific area. This type of plan may not cost anything for you and can lead to increased awareness and revenue for your place.

Rachel Hartman  is a freelance writer who covers small business, finance and lifestyle topics.