Interactive Restaurant Experience – What Happened to Conversations?

Restaurants have gone through so many iterations over the years.  They were initially designed to nourish travellers.  Up until recently, we enjoyed a restaurant for perhaps a quick meal, a celebration, a prelude to romance or maybe a lavish display of gourmet indulgence.  The restaurant had so many roles – we loved the ambiance, the menu, the lighting, the aromas, presentations, the fare, the location, the servers and chefs.  Beyond the nourishment, we had the opportunity to interact with our dining companions – to   talk sports, business, opportunity, love and life in general.  The engagement, the conversation was just as important as the meal for many.

Now, our dining relationship has moved to the interactive – essentially platforms and activities we could do by ourselves in our homes on our lap tops and tablets, snacking on Fritos.  The restaurant is a cuisine arcade!

It is pretty remarkable the leaps we have made in terms of that Customer Dining Experience in such a short time.  The technological interactive applications such restaurant mobile POS were noted in an earlier article.  We actually used to interact with each other, our server and other diners.

Our relationship with restaurants has changed dramatically.  We have seen it in the fast food and casual dining elements.  For fast food, the emphasis is on speed and accuracy.  In the casual dining realm it is more about guest control and access to all sorts of things which interrupt any conversation stream.  It goes beyond ordering and paying for the meal.  I can now tap into television, movies, music, on-line poker, send messages and the like.  I can do all that just by myself and not involve my table mate(s), who may be just as busy on his/her/their mission for access.  And, this is a world-wide phenomenon.

Just consider a restaurant in Dubai, where the establishment “… has installed interactive tables that allow guests to swipe through the menu update their Facebook status and even order a taxi home.  At this Restaurant in Dubai, interaction with wait staff is minimal, as diners can browse the digital menu, place their order, and watch chefs prepare their meal via ‘chef cams’ by using the touch screen tabletops.  The interactive tables also allow guests to customize their decor and choose from a range of images and patterns for their desktop ‘tablecloth.’  While waiting for their meal… guests can catch up on current news, check in on their Facebook messages or send greetings and virtual cards to diners at other tables.”  Connected – yes; digestible – maybe not!

So, has the conversation gone the way of service?  You be the judge.  May I interrupt your Facebook entry and have the salt, please!

iPad or Android? Who Wins?

Apple’s iPad versus Google’s Android isn’t so much of a David vs. Goliath as much as a Hercules vs. Samson – both technologies are innovative and offer users a range of super cool functionalities. We would say that they are so equal that it is pretty tough to determine which is the better in absolute terms.

Therefore, before deciding which tablet you purchase, let’s assess what you envisage its purpose will be – for personal use or for your restaurant and managing its mobile Point of Sales system.

If accessorising is your thing, it is difficult to look beyond Apple’s iPad. Let’s face it – these tablets look very cool and they work very nicely to let others around you know just how much of trendy person you really are! Though, it must be said that the higher end Android tablets are rather beautiful themselves!

People tend to get into tablets to take advantage of apps. iPad offers users an ungodly quantity of them – just under 1 million, a figure that completely and utterly dominates Android’s offering. These apps range from entertainment, including mindless games like Angry Birds to useful/educational ones.

Buying an iPad is also a rather straightforward process – that is assuming you that you want to shed out more than £300for a tablet! Only Apple makes iPad which means that you are guaranteed the anticipated level of quality – naturally if your device is faulty, the Apple Store will fix it or replace it usually for free!

It is therefore self-evidently clear that iPad is a rather ideal bit of tech for one’s personal use for the above reasons – however do any of these items have any value for the restaurateur looking to catalyse her/his business with mobile POS? Probably not.

How about Android?

Android Tablets try to compete with iPad on various levels – some on looks and sophistication. A Samsung tablet, for instance –is just as trendy and offers as good – if not better – functionality as iPad.

Other Android Tablets compete on size, given that a major plus of a tablet is portability. Sony Xperia, for instances, is unbelievably thin, virtually the same size as the iPad Air 2.

Finally there is price – this is one area in which Android blows iPad out of the water and which may be of interest for restaurateurs looking to save a bit of money. Any iPad that is even worth owning will set you back at least £300 whereas an Android HP Slate will cost around £79.

On other useful item offered by Android but not iPad is that the former is typically compatible with pen drives.

So where does this leave us? Both iPad and Android are really good devices that offer a range of practical and entertainment purposes. This blog would go as far to give the nod to iPad as the preferred tablet for personal use.

But for restaurateurs looking to get into the mobile POS game, is there any need for a deeply expensive bit of hardware that can access 1 million apps? Probably not!

This blog recommends that restaurateurs consider one of the lesser expensive Android tablets for mobile POS technology. Sure, they may not look as cool as iPad and you may not be able to access that latest app, but really the only purpose for your restaurant’s tablet will be to run the mobile POS technology, right? The good news is that mobile POS tech like Prologic First’s Android Touché will work just as well on a cost effective Android Tablet as on a fancier, expensive one.

In conclusion, both technologies are fantastic, but unless you want to put a bunch of £300+ tablets in the hands of your staff in a chaotic restaurant setting, probably best to set your sight on Google’s Android technology.

Prologic First’s Android POS Technology

An Objective View on POS Software Available to London Restaurants 

For most restaurateurs, the topic of food and beverage/POS is not necessarily the most ‘enthralling’. Okay – we get that Android Tablet POS technology is not as sexy a topic as a Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux wine, and perhaps not as tasty as a leg of Parma Ham imported from Italy… And yet a restaurant’s POS is one of the more expensive items in which one must invest and is something that often is a key asset to improve a restaurant’s operations, customer service and weekly takings. With that in mind, who wants to talk about fine wine and gourmet ingredients now!?!

The way in which restaurants are often forced to choose their POS software is through costs. Michelin-starred restaurants or ones with robust finances supporting their operation can easily consider leading POS companies like Tissl, Tevalis, Micros or NCR.

These companies look after many prominent London restaurants and it is widely known that their clients swear by them. Their customer service and support are unmatched and they enjoy third party interfacing with reservation management companies like Open Table and payroll modules with companies such as Fourth Hospitality. Some of them also bundle hardware and software packages to makes the lives of their clients easier.

So really… Why would a restaurant consider using anything but companies like Tissl, Tevalis, Micros or NCR? Well, for starters cost is among the main reasons. Due to their exorbitant prices, the software provided by such companies becomes unaffordable for restaurants on smaller budgets.

As these companies are to London restaurants, Prologic First is to hotels and restaurants in Asia and the Middle East. We are a dominant force and our customers enjoy cutting-edge technology, leading customer service, relevant 3rd party interfacing and more.

Our London operation is vastly smaller by comparison – meaning, we cannot compete with the dominant UK brands on many levels.

So what is our proverbial feather in our cap? Prologic First can offer London restaurants the same – if not better – quality technology as Tissl, Micros, etc. (i.e. the same software enjoyed by our many clients in Asia), but we simply cost less and will continue to as we increase our foothold in Britain.

Our customer service and support are not yet at the same level as our competitors, if you believe you require 24-7 customer service, Prologic First’s current London offering may not be right for you. But if the highest quality, most user-friendly software available for a vastly more affordable price is an attractive prospect, Prologic First may be just what you are looking for!

Our customers still enjoy top-notch customer service, relevant 3rd party interfaces, helpful hardware software bundles, a comprehensive back-end system, that we are confident is superior to virtually anything available in Britain and – of course – our cutting edge Android POS technology, Android Touché.

Just as deciding on a restaurant wine list, picking your POS system involves choice and careful consideration. If you want the Ferrari of F&B software, the choice – for the moment at least – is clear. But if you think you may want to drive something that looks, feels and smells like a Ferrari, but cost a bit more like a Fiat 500, Prologic First will have some attractive solutions for you!

The evolving customer demands changing the landscape of the restaurant sector

By Aditi Gupta and M Dave

The casual dining sector in U.K. is booming but at the same time the independent restaurants are suffering due to the surge in demands of customers for higher quality, consistency and value for money. It is necessary for restaurants to evolve with the changing times and demands of the customers in order to stay on the top.

According to the latest report by Caterer in collaboration with Ernst & Young, the casual dining sector in the U.K. is booming with 47 million more visits each year compared to the figures five years ago. The casual dining or the branded sector has kept pace with the changing customer preferences providing them with the best of both worlds – ambience and quality food of a fine dining restaurant with speed and delivery of a quick service restaurant. Though, the independent restaurant sector has been lagging behind, the fine dining sector is flourishing. Even though they had to work a little harder, they were successful in nailing the psychology of the customer by providing attentive but unconstructive service.

It is necessary to understand that today’s consumer base have turned cuisine adventurers and love to experiment with different foods and restaurants that provide them value for money. The evidence can be seen from the surveys and reports by Horizons. “The average food and beverage spend per meal (when taking into account restaurants, quick-service restaurants, pubs and hotels) went up from £8.45 in 2012 to £8.70 in 2013”.  Additionally, the survey shows on average over-16s ate out 2.2 times in June 2014 versus 1.8 times in June 2013, but average spend per meal was £12.72 compared with £13.30 a year before. The idea is no more to have a lavish meal once in a while or on special occasions but is to just eat out.

The modern diner is looking for a lot more than just value for money. He wants both excitement and creativity from his eating out experience. Restaurant operators across the continuum need to modify their operating strategies with the changing priorities of the customers. The restaurants which are able to do so will thrive not just today but in the future as well. The way ahead for the sector is to embrace the new technology (Android/ IPAD POS) which will give restaurateurs the impetus required to satisfy the evolving customer.

Profit Generating Formula = Food Cost Control

By M Dave and Aditi Gupta

The food & beverage industry is witnessing a surge in the number of small to medium restaurants. Though, the Chef’s are highly capable, it has been discovered that a talented chef also needs to inculcate the art of costing a plate of food besides gaining culinary expertise. Most of the hotel management institutes do not emphasize much on financial and profit modules until much later in their curriculum. This is reflected in the lack of knowledge about accurate financial control among the aspiring chef’s. One needs to realise that with severe competition in the restaurant industry one can thrive only if they have a right mix of a talented chef, consistent access to quality ingredients, dependable suppliers and a cosy ambience with provides a magic touch of personal customer service. However the success of all the above mentioned elements can only be measured if the restaurant is making profits and meeting its targets, which is the underlying principle of any business. Hence it’s reasonable to state that any business in the food & beverage industry has to be cost conscious. The window of profit margin in the industry has been depleting with every passing day with increasing competition and prices mixed with customer’s demand of higher quality food at a lower price tag.

So the question is whether the restaurant managers are missing the trick and facing the challenge of costing? Most chefs can estimate roughly what a plate should cost however it is impossible to estimate the exact cost of the plate without appropriate tools. For example: – A chef might be able to guess the cost of a bowl of salad but what about the garnish? Often the sprinkle of oils, dressing, spices which are forgotten also have an implication-on the total cost of the salad. This leads to underestimating the cost of a very simple dish like salad which -can have higher repercussions on the overall P&L of the restaurant.

This boils down to one point that if you need to make profit in this business your cost of plate needs to be accurate. Good financial control will include complex calculations like taking into account the food wastage/shrinkage which reduces your gross profit; at the same time it is equally important to ensure good inventory and stock rotation. All of the above sounds very obvious but, if one lack training to think this way just because it was not focussed when they studied how can one be expected to make profit in this business?

For those managers who run and manage their restaurant but lose revenue due to underestimating the cost of plate of food the market have various options to help you. We get various EPOS, inventory management and stock taking; menu engineering and accounting software which are budget friendly. Why not try it?  Yes , there would be a small cost to your business in the start however the return on investment mixed with profits will make you  overlook the initial investment.