By Kristen Gramigna
There are often times when one goes out to a restaurant, finishes eating a great meal and has to wait around for the server to bring the bill. It can also be frustrating going up to the checkout and finding a lengthy line to stand in while waiting to pay.
As a restaurant owner, it can be discouraging to hear valid complaints about slow service or long lines. It would be great if there were a way to simplify this process, to allow customers to be served better. This is where mobile payments come in to play, a technology that is as good for customers as it is for businesses—and not just because it is speedy.
Mobile payment systems, which allow customers to pay with their smart phone or tablet computer, have increased in popularity and offer numerous benefits to restaurant franchises. However, there have been various responses and common objections keeping franchise owners from jumping on the mobile train. Whether or not you use mobile payments in your franchise, they are an option worth considering.
Mobile payments sometimes integrate with a merchant’s credit card reader, while other times they involve online accounts set up by the customer. User-friendly, secure and speedy, they are becoming popular in both retail and restaurant locations.
According to a study conducted by USA Today, nearly one-third of restaurant consumers would use mobile payments, and this will only continue to rise. In an increasingly paperless world, more consumers desire a mobile or more technologically advanced experience in restaurants. Savvy businesses should find this the next step to take.
The value of mobile payments
Impressions of mobile payments can vary between franchisees. Some may already be using them because they believe they offer benefits, while others are not so sure and write them off as unnecessary. Whichever perspective you may have, you cannot afford to ignore the business benefits:
Using mobile payments is often highly cost-effective. Not only can you reduce the traditionally high credit card processing fees and cut out the cost of card readers, but you can also open up sales to a whole new group of customers who do not carry cash. These new customers equal more sales, which mean more profits. Additionally, mobile payments reduce staff training time because they are more user-friendly and easy-to-understand than typical point-of-sale (POS) systems. This means more cost savings over time for the franchise.
Encouraging loyal customers
Mobile payment providers also make it easy to offer incentive programs. Gone are the days of punch cards or magnetic-strip loyalty cards filling your customers’ wallets. Today, mobile payment systems store and save customer information. A franchisee could offer a free entrée after 12 dinners, for example, or free dessert to customers who order more than five times in a month. Additionally, mobile payments show customers your restaurant is keeping up with the times, which boosts its image in their minds and makes them more likely to return.
Providing market knowledge
If there is anything that helps a franchise system reach customers better, it is understanding them. With a mobile payment system, there is a built-in, automatic way to track customer behaviour, preferences and needs. You can find out which nights see the most bakery items sold, for example, how often repeat customers come in and other valuable data. Plus, most mobile payment processors easily integrate with social networks and review sites, making it easy to encourage happy customers to share their opinions online.
Last but not least is the speed factor. Everybody likes faster service, so the more you can streamline the checkout process, the better. With mobile payments, customers do not have to pull out their credit cards and wallets. They complete payments faster and easier, lines are shorter and more customers are able to be served in a shorter amount of time. Think of how fast checkouts could benefit your busy lunch rush or hectic morning coffee crowd.