Does Your Restaurant Need Pay-at-the-Table Technology? Hint: Yes!

January 07, 2020

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The tedious process of settling up with customers at your restaurant is familiar to us all—bring the check, wait for payment, process the payment, wait for the customer to sign (and puzzle out how much to leave for a tip). It’s slow and annoying for server and diner alike. Add to that a babysitter waiting at home or tickets to a show, and that 15 or 20 minutes can seem like an eternity.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Pay-at-the-table technology means the server presents a single, elegant device that displays the amount owed and lets the guest look it over, select a suggested tip (or enter their own), and pay with their card or phone. Done.

And your guests have noticed the difference—61 percent of guests have a better experience with a server handheld device.

If you’re not yet convinced, here are six additional reasons that pay-at-the-table technology can be a boon to your restaurant.

1. Faster payment, higher turnover

A standard payment at the end of a meal typically takes as many as a dozen steps, from the customer requesting the check to the server closing it out in the system. The entire process adds approximately nine minutes to the dining experience. A pay-at-the-table solution cuts that down by half. When customers can pay at the table, tables turn over faster, more customers get served, customers are happier, and revenues are higher at the end of the night.

2. Lower wait times

The restaurant experience has traditionally been marked by one major downside: lots of idle time. Some of this is necessary—it takes time to prepare the food once it’s ordered, for example. But some of it is wasted, such as the mad dash servers make back and forth from table to POS terminal. This unnecessary waiting can turn a pleasant evening into a boring chore.

A pay-at-the-table system solves that by shrinking the waiting period substantially and letting your staff deliver excellent customer service from start to finish.

3. Better tips

Tipping remains one of dining’s eternal mysteries. The decision of how much to add to the bill involves a complex and personal evaluation of food, service, and atmosphere. And, of course, math. Though most know that the standard rate is 15-20 percent, just figuring out that number can stop the most generous diner in his or her tracks.

But there’s no need for this confusion. Pay-at-the-table devices can do the math and suggest tip amounts, taking the pressure off of diners. It’s also just better customer service, which may prompt the patron to be more generous. In fact, Olive Garden saw a 15 percent increase in tips when it installed terminals back in 2015.

4. More face time and feedback

Contrary to the popular perception that technology removes human connection from transactions, pay-at-the-table terminals do the opposite. Rather than dropping the check and dashing away, a server typically stays at the table while the customer quickly settles up the bill, allowing for friendly banter and a great final impression.

It’s also an opportunity to get feedback from diners on their experience. Rather than contact them days after they’ve left your restaurant, your waitstaff can ask them right then and there if they’d be willing to share their thoughts in a brief survey. If they have a complaint, the server can loop a manager into the conversation and quickly resolve it.

A final step in this feedback ecosystem comes with digital receipts, which allow you to organically build your email list with customers who already know and love what you do.

5. Improved security

Another benefit of a pay-at-the-table system is that it removes the need for a patron to hand over his or her credit card to a server who then takes it away from the table. It’s a simple thing, but it can put your customer’s mind at ease that their identity and card data will remain safe.

6. Less fraud

In 2016, restaurants without EMV-capable technology became liable for fines or chargebacks from fraudulent charges. But two years later, fewer than half of U.S. restaurants had upgraded their systems to accept EMV payments. The reason to make the switch is clear: EMV chip cards use unique transaction codes that foil most counterfeit attempts.

This issue also shows up in “friendly fraud,” when customers who paid for a legitimate meal call their credit card companies claiming the charges are fraudulent. If your restaurant is not compliant, it’ll be on the hook to pay. A modern, pay-at-the-table solution accepts EMV payments and protects you from nuisance claims.

From its sleek mobile design to paperless receipts to stress-free tipping, pay-at-the-table technology elevates your internal operations—and customer experience—to a higher level.

Poynt’s connected POS solution provides user-friendly pay-at-the-table technology, as well as a wide variety of apps designed to streamline and enhance restaurant operations.

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