8 Innovative Ways for Independent Restaurants to Harness Today’s Technology

Feb 26, 2024

In the fast-paced world of food service, independent restaurants face unique and ever-changing challenges. Just when you’ve found the perfect solution to one challenge, a new one appears! However, with the advent of technology, there are ample opportunities to streamline operations and enhance customer experience. Here are eight ways independent restaurants in Ontario can harness modern technology to improve operational efficiency, offer enhanced customer service and maximize profits. For personalized advice, please contact your local Morton Food Service representative—our team is here to support your success and would be glad to hear from you.

Digital Reservation Systems

Gone are the days of pen-and-paper bookings—in fact, many of today’s customers don’t even want to make reservations over the phone! Digital reservation systems like OpenTable or Resy offer convenient booking options for customers and help manage seating efficiently. If you make this option available to customers, be sure to have clear links from your website and social media channels.

Social Media Engagement

Word of mouth is incredibly valuable for an independent restaurant, but social media engagement should be an important part of your marketing plan. Utilize platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to engage with your customers. If you’ve got the time and skill, you can even use TikTok. Share short videos, mouth-watering photos of menu options, special offers and promotions, and restaurant updates to keep your audience engaged. If you’d like personalized advice on using social media to promote your independent restaurant, please reach out to the Morton team. We’d be glad to offer advice on how to best engage with customers through these platforms.

Contactless Payment Solutions

Just tap and go! This one may seem obvious, but not everyone has moved their payment collection methods into the modern world. If you’re in that category, consider implementing contactless payment options including NFC and QR code-based payments. These make for a fast and easy checkout experience that customers not only appreciate, but expect.

Digital Menu Boards, QR Codes and Tableside Ordering

Let’s get digital! Replace traditional menus with digital boards or QR codes to offer a modern, high tech menu experience. Equip your staff with tablets or offer tableside ordering to let customers add to their orders, request beverages or ask for the cheque. Just make sure they’re getting plenty of personal attention from a server, too—digital touches are efficient and convenient, but human connection is a critical element of successful food service.

Smart Kitchen Appliances

Don’t work harder—work smarter. Consider investing in smart kitchen technology like automated cookers or AI-driven kitchen management systems to enhance efficiency and consistency in food preparation. Your chefs will appreciate the use of modern amenities while less experienced kitchen staff may benefit from their smart functions.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

One of the best ways to use modern technology is to minimize the time your team spends on administrative tasks. Use CRM software to collect customer data, track preferences, and personalize the dining experience, which can lead to increased customer loyalty.

Analytics and Reporting Tools

Speaking of saving time on administrative tasks—there are a number of excellent digital tools for analytics and reporting, too. Utilize analytics tools to gain insights into sales patterns, popular menu items, peak times, and customer demographics. This data is invaluable for making informed business decisions and may help you improve your staffing, ordering and inventory, menu features and more.

Consider Online Ordering and Delivery Platforms

This one may not be right for everyone, but it’s worth investigating. Consider partnering with a delivery app like UberEats, DoorDash, or SkipTheDishes to introduce or expand your restaurant’s delivery options. There are some pros and cons to these services, so look at both and determine whether or not a delivery app service is right for your business. For example, while delivery apps may enhance your marketing and visibility while providing convenience to customers, these services come with high commission fees. They also limit your control over the customer experience, which can have a negative impact on customer satisfaction. Sure, these services are (usually) efficient and will offer valuable analytical insights, but they also dilute your brand identity and take a good chunk of your profits. Also, if you become dependent on these services and their fees increase, you’ll be stuck in a hard place. The bottom line is this: tread carefully and make a decision based on information, not trends. We’d be pleased to look at the numbers with you and offer recommendations—just ask.

Morton is here to help your independent restaurant thrive

Embracing technology in the restaurant industry is no longer a choice but a necessity. By adopting these tech-driven strategies, independent restaurants can not only improve their operational efficiency but also create memorable experiences for their customers. Stay ahead of the curve (or at minimum, keep up with it) and watch your restaurant thrive in the digital age. Morton Food Service will be with you every step of the way.