How to Tell if You Could Benefit from an iPad Kiosk

By Katie McCann

illustration of hand making an order on an iPad kiosk

Everybody has their secret weapon. 

Thor and his hammer. Wonderwoman and her lasso. Restaurant owner and their iPad kiosk.

A self-ordering iPad kiosk has proven to be a powerful tool for restaurant owners – adding to the guest experience, empowering staff, and helping increase average check sizes, just to name a few benefits that have come from this technology. 

But with restaurant technology constantly evolving, you want to do your research to figure out if this is the right addition to your business. 

Do you really need an iPad kiosk?

It’s never a simple yes-or-no. But we can help you get one step closer to your answer.

In this article, we’ll tell you what to ask yourself when deciding if adding an iPad kiosk to your arsenal is the right business move. 

The New Kid on the Block: What Is the iPad Kiosk

While they’re still pretty new, self-serving iPad kiosks have been making a name for themselves. Large businesses like Panera Bread and McDonald’s have embraced kiosk technology and pushed these stars into the spotlight. 

And it makes sense. Why wouldn’t businesses embrace this tech-forward way to maximize revenue and make labor more productive?

But how does it work?

An iPad kiosk is a terminal that shows customers the menu and allows them to order directly from the screen.  

The first thing to do when setting up a kiosk is choose the right spot for it. Consider your restaurant layout – where are customers naturally guided to when they walk in the front door? Place your kiosk somewhere that fits in with where customers are going to get the most out of your new technology.

Once you’ve chosen the best spot for your kiosk, customers are guided through every decision from drinks to toppings, before placing their order. After the order has been reviewed by a customer, they can securely pay right at the kiosk (or at the front cash, if you prefer) before picking up their order. 

There are larger terminal kiosks that work similarly – however, they are a huge space hog. Depending how many kiosks you want, choosing these may require rejigging your whole layout to make room for them. On the other hand, an iPad kiosk will fit in almost any space.

With the same functionality, an iPad kiosk delivers a similar experience in less room.

The $64 Million Dollar Question – Is an iPad Kiosk Right for You?

There really isn’t one right answer for every restaurant. 

Because iPad kiosks can be used in so many different ways – maybe one business wants it in order to manage lines better, and another to drive more orders to the kitchen – you have to look at your needs, and how your business could benefit. 

Ask yourself these five questions to help you answer the pressing question: Do you need an iPad kiosk?

does your restaurant need a self-ordering iPad kiosk infographic

1) Are Lunch Rushes Getting Harder to Move Through?

Bringing more and more customers to your business is always the goal. Whether it’s killer lunch specials or the perfect location, people have found you and love you. 

But with longer lines and more food to make, it’s getting harder to manage the rush. 

How does an iPad kiosk help you manage the lunch rush? It can actually help customers place orders faster. Ordering on a kiosk has actually proven to reduce ordering time by up 40%!

Let’s put that into numbers. 

Imagine it takes your average customer 1.5 minutes to place their order with your staff at the counter. At lunch, your fast casual restaurant has 60 orders come in. That’s 90 minutes – a full hour and a half – of just placing orders. That doesn’t include how long it takes to make their order, have staff deliver the food to customers, and for customers to sit and enjoy their food.

It’s a timely process. And those 60 orders can quickly become overwhelming. 

If you’re able to reduce that order time by 40%, you’re looking at less than a minute instead, and a rush lunch you can get through much faster.

2) Are You Trying to Increase Your Average Check Size?

Business is steady, your regulars are coming in, and your new line cook is killing it. Things are going pretty well.

But despite that, your profit margins don’t seem to be improving. 

One way to tackle this is by bumping your average check size, and kiosks empower customers to order a little extra. Your iPad kiosk menu will prompt people to consider modifiers – did you want to upgrade your patty size or fries? Your customer may not have thought of it before being prompted, but you bet they’re considering opting for sweet potato fries now. 

In fact, after implementing kiosk, McDonald’s saw a 30% increase in the average check size.

The best part is, this isn’t just a technology for big chains. Adding an iPad kiosk to your restaurant is simple and because it’s on an iPad, won’t take up a ton of space. 

3) Do You Want to Elevate Your Guest Experience?

I mean, of course. 

But, how? Your team goes above and beyond to make sure your guests are happy, your food is delicious, and the vibe at the restaurant is out of this world.

Cue the iPad Kiosk. 

Tech as a part of the dining experience is becoming the standard. An iPad kiosk is proven to deliver that tech experience to diners – 42% of consumers said they liked the convenience of kiosks. Gen Z and Millennial diners – who make up 50% of the population – also expect a more digital experience

If you’re not giving diners this digital experience, you risk losing them to restaurants who do. By knowing what your diners expect, you’re able to provide it – and encourage them to choose to come back time after time.

Having an iPad kiosk also enhances the guest experience by minimizing the chance of customers getting the wrong order. Customers get to input their own order – down to the extra espresso shot – and double check it while ordering. When they’re given the chance to modify and review their choices before confirming, they can spot error orders before it becomes a dish or drink sent back to the kitchen. 

And what kills the dining experience faster than having to get your order redone? 

4) Do You Want to Take More Orders?

It doesn’t matter if you’re packed or it’s a slow time of day – you want to take as many orders as possible. This may mean having a way to take orders from customers who don’t want a face-to-face conversation as they order. 

During busy times, keeping the line moving can be tough, even with an all-star team. Having an iPad kiosk is like adding another employee and register to your cash line up.

By implementing iPad kiosks, you’re essentially splitting these lines in half. If a line for the cash is too long, customers can order through your kiosk, and vice versa. When you’re able to handle more orders coming in, you won’t have customers walking out empty-handed. 

And more orders = more $$$.

5) Are You Getting the Most from Your Employees’ Time?

The restaurant industry is busy. Always has been, always will be. So trying to find the best ways to use your employees’ valuable time is a constant battle. 

If you shift extra staff to taking orders, you might not have enough people to clear tables or check in with guests. If you put the extra support on the floor, the lines can get out of hand! 

Having an iPad kiosk gives your front-of-house team some of their time back to tackle other important tasks, like prepping food or interacting with diners. 

While iPad kiosks will give your front-of-house staff time to focus on other aspects, it may also make your kitchen busier. Take the time to prepare your back-of-house team. You’re either going to have more orders coming in, or the orders coming in are more customized than ever.

In this case, too many cooks don’t spoil the broth – they just make enough broth to feed everybody. 

If you leave your back-of-house team understaffed, they won’t be able to use their time well. They’ll just be trying to stay afloat. 

Here are two major things you’ll want to consider to keep your staff happy while they undergo the changes to their routine:

  • Bring in more help: Whether you’re seeing more customized orders, or just more orders in general, you should consider some extra hands in the kitchen. Once you know how iPad kiosk orders have impacted what types of orders you’re receiving, you can make an informed hiring decision. Maybe you need more line cooks to prep the extra ingredients you’re going through with all the customization. If there’s just more orders, you might need an extra runner to bring them out. 
  • Ask how it’s going: You may not be the one feeling the heat in the kitchen. But luckily, you know the people who are pretty well. Check in with both back-of-house and front-of-house staff to understand how implementing kiosk has shifted their day-to-day. When you know what they’re doing with the extra time – or handling the new workload – you’re able to make better decisions on how to support them. 

If there was a one-size-fits-all answer for every restaurant when considering new tech, things would be too easy. Right?

Your restaurant is unique, with its own customer base, needs, and growth. And of course, unique with its needs for technology.These questions are a great place to start to figure out if an iPad kiosk is right for your business. 

Photo of Katie McCann
by Katie McCann

Katie is a former Content Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro where she writes about food and restaurant experiences. She doesn’t shy away from the finer things in life, but no matter how much success she continues to acquire, she stays true to her roots and still considers imitation crab as gourmet. If she isn’t writing, you can find her on a patio with friends and a pitcher of white wine sangria.

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