—Colleen Caulliez Wagner didn't need to be sold on the benefits of self-order kiosks when she decided to open a restaurant specializing in French street food — fresh bread, pastries and sandwiches. Having worked in restaurant concept and design for McDonald's when the QSR giant was preparing to introduce kiosks to the U.S., she fully recognized that kiosks can improve customer service and stimulate higher ticket averages.
|Colleen Caulliez Wagner, with the support of her husband, Nicolas, is introducing Oak Park, Illinois to French street food.|
Open four months now, Léa French Street Food in Oak Park, Illinois, near Chicago — which makes artisan, traditional French bread and pastries daily — is off to a promising start. Wagner thinks the two self-order iPad kiosks have already won favor with customers — 78 percent of the orders are made with the kiosks.
The kiosks from TouchBistro enable customized orders, delivering higher tickets.
Customization holds key
"Customization is becoming more and more important to the customer," Wagner told Kiosk Marketplace. "Digital really helps with customization, and the self-order kiosk is a platform for that. I see that as the future."
The main sellers for the 50-seat restaurant are salads, sandwiches and tartins – open face warm sandwiches. Wagner, who learned to love French food while living in Paris, uses locally sourced ingredients, baking with traditional French recipes.
Wagner brought a unique background to the restaurant business. Before working for McDonald's for two years prior to opening her own restaurant, she was an architect by trade, and had also served as director of development for Apple in the European Union before moving back to the U.S.
When planning her own restaurant, Wagner thought about how the customer would be introduced to the kiosk in the restaurant and how they would use it.
Strategic interior design
She designed the restaurant's layout so that the customer first sees the menu on the wall before approaching the kiosks. The kiosks then do an excellent job making the add-ons visible on the menu, something that is very important.
There is a "build your own" option on the menu for sandwiches and salads. Wagner saw the kiosks as especially helpful in encouraging customers to choose their own ingredients.
"It would really be kind of difficult to do (suggestive customization) person-to-person," she said. "With a kiosk, it's super easy and super clean."
A server can certainly ask the customer if they would like something in addition to their order, but the server is not likely to ask if they want every specific add-on the menu offers. Doing so would be awkward.
"With the kiosk you get to see all of the different add-ons that are available to you," she said. "They (the customers) don't see it as threatening, like someone's trying to upsell them. It's more fun for them."
"People do discover the menu differently if they're doing it themselves," she said. "The more add-ons the better, because customers see it as a cool option. It allows the customer to clearly see the things they could add on, which often happens."
Positive customer response
Once customers became familiar with using the kiosks, Wagner noticed an increase in the amount of customization. And they became comfortable with the kiosks faster than Wagner expected.
Order customization has delivered higher check sizes. The average check size with the kiosk is $17.17, which is nearly double that of the counter order, $9.79.
What about cash payments?
Wagner also felt it was important for the kiosk to accommodate cash payments in some way.
"It bumps you right to the (manual) POS so that you can pay with cash after you've completed your kiosk order," she said. "That was something that was super important to us." While the kiosk doesn't accept cash, it prompts the customers who want to use cash to go to the one attended register.
Wagner did consider kiosks that accept cash, but she felt the cash management processes in these systems were "clunky."
"To my knowledge, there's not a really easy system out there" for machines that accept cash, she said.
Wagner also wanted a kiosk that would allow ID checks for liquor sales.
"Legally, we have to check the ID before we sell the wine and the beer," Wagner said. At the end of every order that includes liquor, the kiosk advises the customer to go to the cash register.
"It will bump you to the (attended) POS, and then we'll check the ID and we'll terminate the order at the POS," she said.
"That's not at all the norm in the industry right now," she said.
Part 2 in this two-part series will explore how the kiosks helped familiarize customers with the menu and how the restaurant manages order flow.
Elliot Maras Elliot Maras is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com and FoodTruckOperator.com.