6 Ways Handhelds Can Transform Your Full-Service Restaurant

2 months ago   •   6 min read

By Joe Nicholson

You're in the middle of a dinner rush. At a 10-top, a server frantically scribbles on a pad asking guests to repeat themselves during a barrage of requests. Meanwhile, another server puts in a lengthy order at a POS terminal while 3 others anxiously wait to run credit cards. And in front of the window, the expo stops running food to talk to cooks about a meal sent back because the ticket was entered incorrectly.

Frictions like these may seem small, but as they add up, full-service restaurant operators often find themselves with frustrated servers, unhappy guests, and ultimately, lost revenue. And it's not because of an inefficient waitstaff, but rather a lack of efficient technology.

If you're all too familiar with these scenarios, SpotOn Serve handhelds are your solution.

That's because handhelds put all the capabilities of your POS system at your servers' fingertips. Taking orders, running cards, and even splitting checks can all be done with a couple of taps right at the table.

Let's jump into the specific ways handhelds can streamline your servers' workflows so you can provide a better guest experience.

1. Turn tables faster.

With SpotOn Serve handhelds, ordering and paying happen faster. Servers can take and send orders right at the table. Drinks show up in a couple of minutes. Appetizers are perfectly timed before the main course. Food is started in the kitchen when servers press a button. Desserts are ordered in a flash. And when it's time to pay the bill, transactions are settled in a few moments instead of several minutes. These quicker transitions between courses enable you to drive lower table times without making guests feel rushed. Lower times mean more table turns, and more turns mean more sales. And that's part of the solution to increasing your profit margins.

Deblaze Grill saw a 20% increase in table turns after introducing SpotOn Serve handhelds.
Diners eating at Deblaze Grill in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania
Diners eating at Deblaze Grill in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania

2. Improve order accuracy.

When servers memorize or write down orders, mistakes happen. The scribbled writing that said "sandwich" was sent in as a salad. The steak that came out medium-well was supposed to be medium-rare. Or maybe that third round of drinks was forgotten when the server was called over by a chatty regular. These mistakes cost your restaurant time and money. Not only are food costs doubled in the remake, but guests stay longer waiting for the correct item. Most likely, tips are lower too.

With handhelds, errors like these are reduced (if not eliminated) because servers can put in orders when a guest says it. Orders then get sent straight to the kitchen or bar in real-time, right to your ticket printer or KDS, making it easy for your kitchen staff to read them accurately. Altogether, Serve handheld POS makes it easy for your team to get it right the first time, every time.

3. Delight your guests.

Handhelds empower you to create those unexpected magical moments for guests. For instance, at the table, your servers can send drink orders to the bar before taking a table's food order. When the cocktails (or mocktails) show up before the server steps away, your guests are sure to be impressed by the speed of your staff. Or perhaps a guest quietly lets your server know they want to order and pay for a selection of special desserts for the table. With a couple of taps on a handheld, the server discreetly places the order while adding it to the guest's check. When the desserts arrive, everyone is amazed as the guest announces their surprise order. Or maybe a member of a party wants to pay quickly from their iPhone because they have to leave right away. The server presents the check from a SpotOn Serve handheld, and with a wave of the phone, the bill is instantly settled through their Apple Pay account without a trip to the POS. Serve handhelds make it easy for your waitstaff to make guests feel important and give more attention to tables.

4. Make servers happy.

Want to lower labor costs and keep your best servers in one fell swoop? Handhelds could be your answer. After Von Elrod's started using SpotOn Serve, they found they could run the same floor with fewer servers because handhelds saved their waitstaff so much time.

If your restaurant struggles with the current labor shortage, perhaps equipping servers with technology to take more tables will stand in the gap. Not only will they be happier with a seamless ordering and payment experience, but with more tables, they'll get more tips. Restaurants using SpotOn Serve typically see both their average ticket price and average tip amount go up. Combine that with the fact that your servers can cover more tables with handhelds and significantly increase their take-home pay, and they'll be far more likely to be long-term employees.

"When we equipped our servers with SpotOn Serve handhelds, at first they were skeptical. But immediately they saw that the typical 19 – 20% in tip on credit cards was increasing to 23 – 24%." –Hillary Holmes, General Manager, Von Elrod's Beer Hall and Kitchen, Nashville, TN
The inside of Von Elrod's Beer Hall and Kithcen in Nashville, Tennessee restaurant with long bench tables.
Before the rush at Von Elrod's Beer Hall and Kitchen in Nashville, Tennessee

5. Serve guests wherever they are.

Do you have sections far away from a POS terminal—like an outdoor patio, a trendy rooftop, or a private dining room? Because SpotOn Serve handhelds operate wirelessly through an in-house network, they always keep your servers connected to the POS system when taking orders or payments at remote tables. Your guests will feel the love, too, because their orders will be going to the bar and kitchen at the same speed as the rest of your tables—instantly. And you can rest assured that no matter how big your restaurant gets, handhelds can cover the distance.

6. Keep guests coming back.

When guests checkout through Serve handhelds with digital payments, your restaurant has the ability to capture their name, email, and engagement information in your own customer database. And with that data, you can send them promotions or let them know about your upcoming holiday specials with built-in marketing and loyalty rewards tools that work seamlessly with SpotOn’s comprehensive restaurant solution. This keeps your restaurant on the top of their minds and gives you a way to drive repeat visits and improve your profit margins.

Handhelds have the potential to create a better full-service restaurant experience for everyone—from your staff to your guests and your managers. And when you see that boost in revenue, you'll know they're well worth the upgrade. To learn more about how SpotOn Serve handhelds can help your restaurant, visit spoton.com/restaurant-pos.

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