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Restaurant Self-Service Kiosks for Food Ordering and Point of Sale: Costs and Benefits

From grocery stores to ticket hubs, customers have acclimated to using self-service kiosks. Many restaurants have joined the growing trend, placing kiosks at every table.

The restaurateur may decide that all ordering and payment occur through the kiosks, or they may choose to make them optional, leaving the choice up to the customer. In addition to ordering and paying for their meal, your kiosks can perform a number of other functions. For example, you can include nutritional information about menu items, or let customers sign up for rewards programs or redeem points.

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Increased Accuracy

It's debatable whether self-service kiosks increase order accuracy, or whether the customer just thinks it does. Whatever the case, perception is reality in the service industry. When your clientele enter their own orders, they feel like the orders are more accurate, and that improves their view of, and experience of, your restaurant.

Customers also feel more comfortable entering customized order requests that often go unmentioned during the ordering process. The reality is, special orders do tend to have more errors than when the diner orders straight off the menu. Sending a custom order directly to the kitchen increases accuracy.

Increased Revenue

Posting an interactive menu on your self-serve kiosks offers numerous opportunities for you to upsell your customers. Suggested food and drink pairings, listing top items first, and introducing specials all add up to improving your bottom line.

What's more, you improve throughput, further increasing revenue, and shift your staff from taking orders to filling them. With improved customer satisfaction, more customers come in, further increasing profits.

This report by CNN talks about how self-serve kiosks increase average check size and why it all comes down to psychology. When faced with a long line of people, or an obviously busy server, the average diner feels pressure to order quickly, even if he or she doesn't realize it. When they take their time, they tend to order more. With your upsell options listed, order size increases even more.

Pleasant Wait

If you run a busy restaurant and often have people waiting for a table, congratulations! Now, what if you could make that wait time more productive and enjoyable for your customers? You can, with an order kiosk.

Your customers can browse through your menu and place their orders, all while waiting for a table. Then, time their food delivery to occur around 10 minutes after seating the party. Diners are also less likely to leave if they've already placed their orders. You reduce table turnover time and free up your servers to provide stellar service. A win-win for everyone.

Know Your Audience

If your restaurant caters to a younger crowd, with your diners' average age clocking in under 40, you'll likely find even greater success with self-service kiosks. However, if you attract a mostly older crowd, installing kiosks may not make a big difference in your bottom line.

Casual and fast-casual restaurants were the most popular choices with the self-service crowd.

Easy Promotion

Your guests still interact with the staff and even receive better face-to-face service, since employee time is now devoted to filling orders, not taking them. This means staff has more time for refilling drink orders and checking the satisfaction levels of their diners. What's more, you can use a combination of staff and the kiosks for promotion efforts, such as signing up patrons for rewards programs and selling gift certificates.

Restaurants in high-traffic areas benefit from a kiosk on the sidewalk. Not only does it advertise your business and your delicious menu, you can add ordering and reservation capabilities to it.

Average Costs

It's hard to offer a "standard" cost for this kind of technology, because each business has such widely varying needs. Tablet-sized kiosks of this nature start at around $200 each, and go up to around $1,500. However, you can expect to pay closer to the low end.

The basic price includes standard software, but you'll pay more to customize the software to your restaurant. Cost depends on the level of customization you want, anywhere from around $1,500 to $15,000. In addition, you typically pay a licensing fee for each location running the software.

The kiosk itself usually includes a 12-month warranty that covers hardware, but not parts and labor. If you choose to purchase an extended warranty, one that includes a maintenance contract, add around 20 percent to the total purchase price. Of course, three years of full coverage is likely worth it.

Purchasing a used kiosk typically knocks between 25 and 50 percent off of the purchase price.

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