There’s no doubt we live in a rapidly evolving tech world. As of today, most restaurants have implemented some type of digital technology. With the continued labor shortage and consumers adapting to receiving food at the click of a button, innovative technologies have increased order efficiency, customer and employee satisfaction and overall restaurant sales to combat these challenges.

At Zunzi’s, we took a layered approach to embracing technology that set our brand up for success in today’s times and beyond. We implemented a new POS and management system—Toast—comprised of an order and pay at the table system, self-ordering kiosks and Toast Go Handheld POS. Now, 75 percent of our sales come from the order and pay at the table QR codes and kiosks, leaving just 25 percent from the handheld orders placed by our employees. We don’t see these digital trends decreasing anytime soon, so our three-layer approach to ordering technology is here to stay.

Here are three reasons why optimizing ordering technology can positively impact your restaurant:

Each customer has a unique ordering preference

We’ve found ordering preferences vary by age with 30 year-olds and under preferring QR codes, 30–60 year-olds preferring kiosks and 60-plus preferring ordering in person. We’ve seen a significant shift in restaurant ordering preferences and a KOALA survey showed that 70 percent of respondents preferred to order via a device versus from a human when in a restaurant. In that same survey, 80 percent of those respondents prefer to use a personal device to order over restaurant-provided devices when ordering digitally on-site.

Allowing the guest to personalize their experience with these different ordering options gives consumers more control and leaves it up to the team member to simply follow through on those requests. Offering a variety of ordering methods can attract different consumers to your brand, whether that be a consumer looking for a quick and easy, grab-and-go experience or someone looking to sit down with minimal human interaction. These different layers open up the opportunity to grow your reach within your local market and beyond.

Labor income and productivity increase

Our layered technology approach has freed our team members to be more productive and focus on the guests. The kiosks enable team members to have a larger area they’re able to serve, in the end, allowing them to make more money. We also separate the drink orders from the food to enable the servers to be less involved with the food and mainly focus on serving the customers their drinks and a “SHIT YEAH!” experience.

Our tips are around 16 percent, which includes online and delivery sales. This allows us to leverage a tip-wage model in our business that many quick-service restaurants don’t have. We strive to take the best things from full-service and fast-casual, such as the tips, and combine them. This whole process has been a large part of how Zunzi’s manages our labor in the business.

Customers are more satisfied during peak business hours.

We always want to perform better as we get busier, not the other way around. When a guest is able to order at a table, all that’s required is for a server or hostess to greet them. The guest can sit wherever they want and order however they want, giving them options on how they approach their Zunzi’s experience.

In today’s times, it seems like most restaurants are leveraging technology to minimize the amount of labor associated with the operation, which is not Zunzi’s goal. We want to leverage technology to allow our existing team members to provide a better experience to the guest. When we can take technology and give the team members time to solely focus on service and creating an experience for the guest outside of the product, it ultimately drives our “SHIT YEAH!” experience.

No matter what stage your quick-service restaurant is at in the tech space, implementing a flexible service model can improve hospitality, the labor experience and overall sales. Layering in kiosks and other technologies allowed Zunzi’s to stick to our core as a takeout, fast-casual concept but have a full-bar experience that’s so great, it leaves our customers saying, “SHIT YEAH!”

Chris Smith, the owner of Zunzi’s and Zunzibar, has never been one to put off until tomorrow what can be done today. It’s that drive that led him to become a Five Guys franchisee while still in college, going on to open seven locations within eight years. And it’s that same spirit that, upon his first visit to the Savannah sandwich shop Zunzi’s in 2008, drove him to declare that he would one day own the restaurant—a goal he eventually realized in 2014. Zunzi’s Franchising LLC, a newly formed subsidiary, is focusing its efforts on a 10-state area encompassing Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Business Advice, Fast Casual, Franchising, Outside Insights, Restaurant Operations, Story, Technology