In the past year, there has been tremendous uptake of tablet computers by major casual dining chains. In fact, according to a recent National Restaurant Association survey, the tabletop tablet is the top technology trend for 2014.

Why the interest? Guest-facing restaurant tablets bring many benefits to a business, like streamlining operations and increasing sales. Moreover, consumers are well-versed in self-service technology and mobile devices in today’s world, driving expectations of ever-increasing control over their dining experience, from ordering food and drinks on demand to paying their check without having to wait.


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Before integrating tablets in your restaurant, it is important to consider these five things.

1. Is a tablet solution right for your concept?

Each restaurant has its own unique needs and approach. Before considering a tablet solution, it is important to closely examine your concept, as this will help you evaluate if tablets are going to be a good fit. For example, a quick-service restaurant may not need tablets because guests order and pay at the front counter before sitting down, and there aren’t any waiters to help serve the guests.

2. What do you want to gain from a restaurant tablet?

Tablets are more than just entertainment. They help restaurants gain a better understanding of their guests and business operations through analytics and data. It is important to first identify your objectives and what you want to accomplish by having tablets in your restaurant. Do you want to increase the number of e-mail signups for your customer loyalty program? Would you like insight to help increase average checks? Tablets can provide all this information and more; however, make sure you clearly articulate your primary mission with your tablet software provider in order to ensure a higher success rate.

3. What’s your path to operational success?

Tablets will be heavily used by most staff members, including management, bartenders and servers, so it is important to get everyone on board with the technology. Make sure to explain to them the goals you hope to achieve by adopting this technology and the benefits it will bring. For waiters, it is also important to stress that these tablets are meant to serve as a sidekick and will help them focus on the higher-value parts of service, thus enabling them to get higher tips.

4. What type of customer does your restaurant attract?

Each guest will have his or her own expectations of the ideal dining experience. Before implementing a tablet solution, think about your customer demographic and what features will matter most to them. For example, if your restaurant’s primary demographic consists of tourists, they may want colorful images of each menu item to help them order. If your restaurant attracts a lot of regulars who order the same thing often, those guests may want features to help make their ordering process quick and efficient.

5. Which tablet is right for your business?

As with any technology, there are various options available, but it is important to realize that not all tablets have the same functionality. Some are used solely for gaming, and some are designed to help manage bar orders. Other tablets allow guests to craft their own dining experience by allowing them to order food, play games while they wait and pay their check. Examine each solution, and evaluate which one will serve you and your guests’ needs.

Integrating tablets in your restaurant may seem like a daunting task. Any new way of conducting business is going to have an impact on your restaurant, staff and guests. Depending on your operational needs, certain features will take priority over others. Ultimately, it is important to choose a tablet software partner with a comprehensive solution and a willingness to guide you through the integration process to make this transition as seamless as possible.

Are you considering rolling out tablet computers in your restaurants? Join the conversation in the comments below.