I present you the mobile-first restaurant idea. Cut down waiter round-trips and let guests use the phones they already have.
The problem statement
How many round trips does a waiter in a regular restaurant do? Let’s look at the best case scenario:
- 1st trip: waiter seats you at your table & has menus ready & already asks for drink order
- 2nd trip: waiter brings drinks & takes food order
- 3rd trip: waiter brings food
- 4th trip: waiter takes food plates & brings dessert menu
- 5th trip: waiter takes dessert orders
- 6th trip: waiter brings desserts
- 7th trip: waiter takes away the plates & brings the bill
- 8th trip: waiter gets you to pay with cash/card
And that’s the best case scenario. In the worst case scenario you add some extra round trips for bringing the menu, asking for the drinks order, taking the food order in an extra round trip after bringing the drinks, etc.
I’d say based on my gut feeling you easily have 10 interactions with a waiter on each restaurant visit.
The proposed solution / Business Idea
With corona a few restaurants already did the first step of placing a QR code on the tables where customers can scan it and get the menu digitally. This does effectively save 2 round trips (bringing menus and bringing dessert menus). A good first step. But why not drive it to the extreme? Why don’t you allow the people that already scanned the tables QR code to directly place their order with their phones? That again would cut another 2 round trips of order taking. Then go on and also allow the guests to pay their bills by scanning the QR code of the table *bam* another 1-2 round trip saved. Which would basically bring the whole “user-story” down to:
- People enter the restaurant and either choose a table by themselves or get seated
- Guests scan QR code at the table (which has the table number encoded) which allows them to order drinks / food
- 1st trip: waiter brings drinks order
- 2nd trip: waiter brings food order & suggests ordering dessert when done
- 3rd trip: waiter brings desserts & takes food plates
- Guests pay using the QR code and their phone
So you can bring down the waiter round trips to 4-5 from 10 effectively halving the need of waiters.
The potential upselling / side-effects
Some random ideas which would be possible on-top of this idea:
- If guests want a recommendation (e.g. what wine suits this meal?), include a chat feature which is connected with all waiters/chefs phones
- Request real-time feedback / animate guests to leave a rating (of each meal? or on rating platforms like yelp/Google Maps) during the payment process
- Provide free Wifi with Facebook/Socialmedia login (already exists)
- Let the guests choose or vote on the music that is playing in bars/clubs (feedback for DJ?)
- Since the menu is already available digitally you can boost your discoverability by having it easily findable by search engines
- Combine the system with booking/reservation tools, show the guest at booking time which table they will get or let them select their table ahead (great spots for a fee?)
Sure given the fact that you could potentially cut the number of waiters needed by around 50% this business idea would lead to less need for waiters.
As a Swiss person I’m not a big fan of the tipping system of the US which basically pays the wages of the waiters directly there. In Switzerland waiters have a regular contract and get paid their monthly salaries including all social security payments regardless of their fake friendliness. That has it’s own advantages and disadvantages but this business idea might lower the general amount of tips that guests are willing to leave. So paying for presence instead of quality service might be a risk that would very likely show up.
If you know a place, an app or company which already provides/implemented this business idea, please let me know in the comments. You like my idea and/or plan to start a company/app based on it and would like to make me participate, consult or give me a stake in it? Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.