How digital media can improve restaurant productivity

| by Bradley Cooper
How digital media can improve restaurant productivity

Digital media tools such as self-serve kiosks and digital menu boards are transforming restaurants. Several concepts were recently displayed at the NEC Display Solutions July open house in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Editor's Note: A different version of this story ran on QSRWeb, a sister website of Kiosk Marketplace.

Shown from left to right are LevelUp Agency Services Director Allyson Klineman, Fazoli’s Vice President of Marketing Jodie Conrad, La Madeleine Senior Director of Marketing Jacqueline O'Reilly and NPD Group Foodservice Practice Vice President Warren Solochek. Photo by Willie Lawless.

Digital media tools such as self-serve kiosks, digital menu boards, online ordering and loyalty apps are all transforming the restaurant business, according to an industry expert at NPD Group and a pair of limited service brands, Fazoli's and La Madeleine. The three hashed out the details of this ever-evolving topic recently at the Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit in Louisville. 

The hour-long panel, moderated by LevelUp Agency Services Director Allyson Klineman, included insights and advice from NPD Group Foodservice Practice Vice President Warren Soloshek, along with Fazoli's Vice President of Marketing Jodie Conrad and La Madeleine Senior Director of Marketing Jacqueline O'Reilly. 

The panelists agreed that digital media tools can help turn one-time visitors into loyal customers. But going a step further, Solochek pointed out that restaurants can also benefit from using "differential targeting" based on customer data. 

For example, brands can push out coupons for additional chicken items to customers who order chicken sandwiches online. It's an approach that reinforces the positive and helps drive customers back to the restaurant through value offerings. 

Digital media tools are also delivering new ways to build customer satisfaction and feedback. For example, Conrad pointed out that in the past, restaurants would have had to mail coupons to customers who might have experienced issues with their orders. Now, the customer can instantly report issues online while the restaurant operator can rapidly respond to save that customer's loyalty before they've had time to "stew" about it and possibly post a bad review. 

Seize the daypart

When restaurant operators use static menu boards, they typically find it tough to take advantage of the business opportunities in different times of the day. Those using interactive touchscreens and digital menu boards, however, can easily update their offerings as the day progresses from breakfast to dinner and late-night snacks. 

Other tools help brands grow traffic during certain dayparts. For example, at La Maddeleine, O'Reilly said leadership learned from app check-ins that 66 percent of users tended to visit during two different dayparts. With this information, the brand was able to push out messages encouraging customers to visit at other dayparts. 

Restaurant brands can also benefit from using trial campaigns to drive traffic at certain times of day or at events like store openings. 

Changing the daily operations

Digital media tools can also make labor more efficient. Self-ordering kiosks, for example, can remove some of the demand for front-end employees at the cash register. These employees can move to the the back of the house to help with other tasks.

"IT enables restaurants to shift labor around from one of (the) restaurant operations to another," Solochek said.

Ultimately, digital media doesn't just upgrade the restaurant's ordering process; it transforms the entire operation.

Topics: Customer Experience, Interactive / Touchscreen, Restaurants

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.

wwwView Bradley Cooper's profile on LinkedIn

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