Long gone are the days when your restaurant server would scribble down your order on a 3 ply notepad, carefully placing one at the bar, one in the kitchen and neatly placing the original back in a neatly ironed apron, later to be given to the boss. The worst thing that could go wrong seemed to be the possibility that a grease-ridden paper order would make its way to the bottom of the kitchen or bar floor -- possibly be taken out of the wages of an overworked and seriously under-appreciated member of restaurant staff. However, the hospitality industry has known for almost a century that the tech industry drives the hospitality industry. Tables turn faster, customers spend more, mistakes are minimized and stock-ordering is child’s play. Whatever the size of your restaurant business, read on to see how you can improve your business and which will bring the most bang for whatever bucks you have to invest in 2018 in your restaurant business. 1# Nutrition Analysis Software Of course, using nutrition analysis software to add nutritional information to your website and restaurant menu is a great way to update your restaurant business for 2018. If you eat out at any of the big name global restaurants, you will undoubtedly see detailed information that can highlight your customers in the right direction whatever they are looking for. Don't worry about putting your customers off, the opposite is the truth. Those following low-carbs, low-salt, low-fat, low-calorie, low-sugar, as well as dishes free from animal ingredients, will now happily dine at your establishment with your new found transparency. The information is very easy to add to your menus from the recipe information you have and will prove to be a boost to your sales. Not just that, adding MenuSano technology to your menu is one of the most affordable ways to update your restaurant business technology, with prices starting from just $35 per month. 2# WiFi In terms of a quick and easy investment in your business if you are not currently offering free wifi in your restaurant then consider doing so today. There are so many numbers of reasons that customers are looking for free wifi in a restaurant establishment. Many a weary traveler in a new place is looking for a wifi connection and your customers armed with their smartphone will already have the data connection. However, it is a benefit to customers to save their data and hop on a free wifi connection. Customers want to watch entertainment while sending emails, whats-app messages and everything else they do on their smartphones. Business customers want to be able to bring a large group of employees so that they can use free wifi for venues. This is a great way for building links with local businesses and filling your restaurant during slower and quieter times which is great for everyone. And they come to during their own free time and book staff Xmas parties. 3# Upgrade your Digital POS System POS (point of sale) restaurant technologies have been used in the restaurant industry for many years but it may be time to revamp yours. POS restaurant technologies can now allow your customers to do more and therefore, you, less. Your customers may be able to place their orders themselves, they may buy more given longer to browse and they can quickly pay by themselves too. There are also fewer errors and these technologies can tie in with many other types of marketing. Other benefits include that your guests won’t need to beckon a server which is a big plus during the dinner or lunch rush. These systems mean your order will be on the way to the kitchen during your busier times but it will still be up to you to advise your customers of faster cooking dishes to avoid disappointment. A digital menu still has the added advantage of encouraging a higher spend than a server with the best memory and most award-winning smile. And don’t worry about losing the personal touch your servers will have even more time to engage with their guests with some of the hard work done for them. 4# Customer-Facing Tabletop Tablets Well, it’s not quite AI yet but it’s on its way. This system is a cross between self-service and state-of-the-art technology and friendly table-top service. It’s a digital menu in the form of a tabletop tablet that is situated on each of the dining tables in the restaurant. This kind of technology was originally implemented by many Taco Bell restaurants and led to an increase in sales of over 20%. That is an increase in sales alone, notwithstanding the decrease in wage costs. Smart digital menus and tablets can easily be introduced in casual, family and fine-dining restaurants. While the initial costs are not going to be minimal, the expenses can certainly be recouped in reduced wage costs, rapidly. And of course, you can choose to roll out the tablets to just some of your tables initially. Or indeed, keep some tables, forever free of tablets, to permanently give your customers choice. Keep your more experienced servers for tablet-free tables who know your menus inside out, can up-sell without thinking and recommend your best wines. And, what’s more, your customers (who of course are never wrong) can no longer blame your poor hard-working server EVER AGAIN - for getting their order wrong! Self-service restaurant technologies are now being adapted for all types of restaurants. 5# Online Ordering Most restaurants can offer takeout and the benefits are numerous. Customers can quickly order food to be picked up and therefore you don’t have long lines of queuing customers. You can take advantage of local delivery services that pick up food that has already been paid for by your customers and is delivered to your customers in hot-fresh bags by delivery drivers that know their way about town. Your phone lines aren’t jammed, servers are freed up. And because customers can browse through your digital menus, they almost invariably order more than choosing their hurried favorites from your paper menu your dining guests are using. Similarly, your guests that are ordering a quiet takeaway are in a completely different mood to your partying bar guests, so they are probably best kept separately. This all equals all around happier guests. You can also track your customer's orders and sync it with your stock-taking and marketing campaigns. 6# Loyalty Programs A loyalty program is a great way to incentivize your customers to spend more and spend regularly at your restaurant. Rather than using a traditional method where customers buy nine cappuccinos and get a tenth for free, for example, you can use restaurant technologies to understand your customer’s behavior better and direct your marketing strategy. You can design a great loyalty program that works with your website or creates a separate stand-alone app. It’s also a great way of helping your customers celebrate their birthdays and anniversaries in style. So send them a voucher for their birthday and remember the more is the merrier. 7# Email Service Providers An ESP (email service provider) can help you design, manage and send email marketing campaigns. You can track your website traffic and market to your potential customers, loyal customers and cart abandoners. Using basics such as your Google Analytics account can be a great way to have your restaurant busy on otherwise traditionally quiet days and evenings. As time goes by the more data you gather the more successful your campaigns will be. 8# Automated Inventory Tracking There are now systems and software that the hospitality industry can use meaning that spreadsheets could be a thing of the past. Not only do you free up managers for managing, but therefore saving you money you can also avoid human error. Software technology like this can pay for itself quickly and easily and prevent you from over and underspending. With all these great ideas there is something here for every restaurant to look at in 2018.