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By Katie McCann
It’s impossible to run a modern restaurant without technology. From software like POS systems and reservation systems to hardware like iPads and smart ovens, restaurant technology makes operations more efficient and empowers business decisions.
Choosing a new technology to introduce to your restaurant can be tricky – it’s challenging to find the best fit for your business when there are so many options that seem to do the same thing. However, shopping for software and hardware is just half the battle.
After you’ve made your decision, there’s the matter of implementing new technology and introducing it to your staff – the people who will be using it day in and day out. People are comfortable with what they already know, so change can be scary. For that reason, and many others, you’ll likely face objections from your team when you implement new restaurant technology.
We’re going over some of these common objections and concerns and explaining how to minimize them so that you can get team buy-in for your new tech. You’ll also learn why team buy-in for new restaurant technology is important.
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Implementing new technology is just half the battle. Just because you introduce new tech at your restaurant doesn’t mean that employees will use it, or use it properly.
Let’s say that you’ve decided to upgrade from an old fashioned cash register to a modern POS. For staff who haven’t had to use this type of tech in their jobs, this new introduction can be scary!
Buy-in, or acceptance and active support, is like team spirit: you have to rally your staff around a new piece of technology in order to get them excited about it and invested in it. Without buy-in, your team will be resistant to the change, making it even harder to implement.You can even risk losing out on some of the available features if your team isn’t embracing the change, which reduces efficiency and its benefits to the business. Buy-in is an important part of ensuring that your staff will use the tools you give them.
But the great thing is you can prepare for these objections or concerns early in the onboarding process for your new restaurant technology!
These are some of the most common objections you may get from team members while implementing new technology at your restaurant – plus, how you can overcome these concerns and get your team on board.
Restaurant staff have a lot to do while they’re on the clock. Front-of-house staff have customers to take care of and back-of-house staff have food to prepare. Staff may object to new restaurant technology because they don’t feel like there is enough time during their shifts for “extra” activities like training on new technology.
This obstacle brings up two concerns.
First, staff may feel like training is an extracurricular chore rather than a regular part of their jobs. The way to overcome this concern is to make education a part of your team culture long before you plan on implementing new technology. When you make training, shadowing, and learning a normal part of the job, then staff won’t be as resistant when new tech is introduced.
Second, it’s important to pay staff for the time they spend training on new technology. You can either set aside a day or two when the restaurant is typically closed (or before it opens) for new tech training or you can incorporate it into shifts.
For example, if Sam and John usually work from noon until six, Sam can train from noon until three, while John covers for her. ThenJohn can train from three until six while Sam covers for him. You can also offer remote training (like webinars) to let staff brush up on skills when they’re not on-site – just make sure to compensate them for their time!
This goes hand in hand with the idea of not having enough time to train – the idea that they haven’t had enough training on the new restaurant technology to be able to use it comfortably during their shifts.
We’ve all been there – either as a customer who is frustrated when somebody is in training and is therefore slow or as the staff member who feels embarrassed that they’re still learning. This is an uncomfortable position to be in, and your team will want to avoid it.
Instead of setting employees up with a training program and expecting them to be experts on the new tech when they complete it, test their knowledge before you release them into “the wild” with this tech.
You can get trainees to do test runs on friends, family, or coworkers. Because these friendly faces know that the team is in training, the pressure will be taken off of staff and they’ll feel more comfortable when they have to use the new POS.
Your old school team members may object to using new technology overall, claiming that they don’t know how to use it.
When people say “I don’t know how to use technology” it means that they aren’t comfortable with it yet. Ease this concern by:
Your team could say that there is already too much tech in the restaurant and that it’s overwhelming. How could you possibly add another tool?!
If your restaurant truly has too many gadgets, you should reconsider your entire tech stack and look for hardware that works together and software systems that integrate with each other.
Integrations help software share data and unlock powerful features. For example, when your restaurant reservation system integrates with your POS, your reservation system can automatically block off a table in your POS when a new booking is made. When you find tools that work together seamlessly, it limits the amount of tech your team has to master.
Staff may feel like they spend more time using tech than they do performing the core functionalities of their roles. For example, a server may feel like he’s spending a lot of time on putting orders into the POS rather than interacting with diners.
This objection may be due to insufficient training, which we discussed in objection number two.
In addition to training staff, it’s important to explain how the time spent on tech adds value to the business. Your POS, for example, collects information about dish popularity, and table turnover rate, to name a few. Perhaps staff don’t know about these capabilities. Make your team feel included in the success of the restaurant by sharing statistics like those during all staff meetings.
You can also show your team how the features actually help them spend more time with diners. For example, when they can take orders or process payments tableside instead of at a POS terminal.
Staff are the ones who use the tech in your restaurant on a daily basis. They may not buy into new restaurant technology if they feel like they don’t have ownership over it or play a part in the selection process.
Make your team part of the buying process. Inclusion makes end users invested in the decision, and makes the selection process easier by uncovering the end users’ needs.
Interview several employees who will be using your new restaurant technology. Ask them about how they use the technology that’s already in place, what they think can be improved, functionalities they wish they could access, etc.
A server at a full service restaurant might share that they would prefer using a payment processing system that they can bring to their customers tableside instead of taking the card back to a stationary POS.
Ultimately the tech purchase will be your decision, but making staff feel like part of the process will make them more willing to buy in, and will help you uncover features that will make staff more willing to use it.
Pro tip: While you’ll want to hear everybody’s opinions, you’ll have to critically consider who you actually want in the room when you’re making the purchase. Pick a few key people to gather opinions and represent different stakeholders.
Staff may have a difficult time understanding how new restaurant technology will benefit them in their roles.
As we explained in objection number six, you can talk to employees and ask for input about their technology needs. While this process makes employees feel included in the purchasing decision, it also helps you uncover pain points that your employees have when using restaurant technology. Use these pain points to create messaging around how the new tech will help resolve these problems.
For example, you might discover that the front of house at your restaurant is understaffed during the lunch rush. When you introduce self-ordering kiosks to the restaurant, you can explain to staff how these will lighten their load during this busy time.
Change is hard. Your team already knows how to use the tech your restaurant has in place. They may not understand why you’d want to replace it.
Overcoming this objection is all about transparency. Explain why the old technology needed to be replaced. Perhaps it was too expensive or it lacked an important feature.
Then explain why you chose this new technology to replace the old tools. Most importantly, explain the benefits of the new tools to the people who will be using them. When staff know that the tech will make their jobs easier, they’ll be more likely to embrace it.
Whether you’re implementing new technology at your restaurant or replacing an existing tool with a new one, you’ll need team buy-in in order to get your staff to use the tech properly. When you’ve considered all of the objections you might encounter and can ease your team’s concerns about it, you’ll be able to make a better purchasing decision and your team will be able to embrace the new tool more easily.
When staff are on board with new technology, they’ll be more likely to use it to its maximum potential, which makes their jobs easier and makes the data that your restaurant collects through these tools more powerful to help you make smart business decisions.
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.
By Andrea Victory
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