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Tabletop Ordering

Enlisting E-tablets & Preserving Service

October 6, 2011 By: Alissa Ponchione Night Club and Bar Magazine


eTabE-tablets are growing in popularity and can be beneficial to your business. However, if used incorrectly or too flippantly, you could lose patrons who are hesitant to try the new technology. When considering adding e-tablets to your venue, do so with caution.

Sean Finter, global director and founder of Barmetrix, a Washington, D.C.-based company that helps bars maximize profits, warns that improper use of e-tablets can be detrimental to your business. Finter explains that these devices should never be used as a substitute for customer service.

The fear is a server might hand over an e-tablet without collaborating with the guest on the menu, explaining the offerings or making suggestions based on feedback.

“One of the primary reasons that people go to restaurants is human interaction,” Finter warns. “Turning servers and bartenders into cyborg vending machines is not the solution to save money on induction and training in our industry.”

If you’re an operator who is considering adding e-tablets to your establishment, understand the drawbacks these devices can cause and make sure you have a solution to ensure that the devices don’t negatively affect your business, but grow it through better bartender/server/guest interactions.

Finter says that a business is about “building relationships with guests” and “turning drop-ins into your regulars.”

“Servers sell with body language and offer recommendations. This cannot be substituted,” he says.

Finter worries that patrons will miss out on customer experience if they use e-tablets. Not to mention, most customers stare at computers all day. “The idea of a tablet thrust in their face in a restaurant is not ideal.”

If you’re able to add e-tablets at your establishment, make sure servers are visible to customers and highly engaged with them. E-tablets can be a good investment. There is consistency and control in using e-tablets. Plus, you’re on the cutting edge of an ever-changing technological landscape.

“The real benefit I see is using the technology to build a database. That means getting the gadget back on the table at the end of the meal to run surveys and build databases,” Finter explains.

At the end of the day, e-tablets are still new, and operators should proceed with caution. Make sure you already have a strong wait staff and effective training standards that won’t be dismissed when e-devices are in place. A strong business is only as strong as its employees, so emphasize the impact of e-tablets and highlight the benefits of cultivating server/customer relationships. If you can accomplish this, e-tablets can transition seamlessly into your business model, creating more profits and attracting new clientele.


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