How Successful Restaurants Are Testing the Mobile Waters


The SinglePlatform team was excited to attend the Restaurant Leadership Conference last week. While we have stressed the importance of mobile in the past, our team was grateful for the insights presented at the NoWait talk, “There’s an App for That! Stay Ahead of The Game with Mobile Technology”. Panelists from restaurant juggernauts like Grimaldi’s, First Watch, and On The Border discussed how their restaurants have incorporated mobile technologies into their businesses and what other mobile advancements they predict for the future of the restaurant industry.

Cross-Departmental Collaboration Is Critical When Adopting New Technology

The panelists shared their views on the roll of IT in their restaurants’ operations, and how that impacts mobile adoption. Jeff Dinard, CIO of On The Border, spoke of the increasing importance of IT in choosing new technology, “For brands to be successful, IT needs to be an arm that’s helping to define business strategy. It’s elemental to our success that IT gets involved early.”

Jeff was not alone in his evaluation of IT’s importance. Chris Tomasso, President at First Watch, concurred that IT was integral to a restaurant’s marketing strategy. “IT is no longer its own silo,” Tomasso said. “The shift of how much IT is integrated into marketing can make or break your marketing plan.  It has to be a lot more collaborative now than ever before.”

Mobile Payments Could Impact Customer Experience

While the panelists overwhelmingly agreed that mobile tech will be important in the years to come, they were more hesitant when it came to the direction of mobile payments. Some restaurants had tried mobile payments with mixed results while others were still waiting for the dust to settle before investing in a new payment system.

Dinard recalled, “Today, we’ve dipped our toe in the mobile payments water. It’s freezing, so we’re stuck where we are. The way that it works today, it’s a little clunky.” He was most concerned about the awkwardness of a server handing over a device and waiting while a patron chose whether or not to tip.  “It’s weird to either walk away or stand there while the customer has the device.”

Other panelists were also conflicted on the topic of mobile payments. Tomasso stated, “With the power of the phone in your hand, I think that’s where the power is going to go: to each individual’s mobile device.” While Brittany Maroney, Marketing Director at Grimaldi’s, admitted, “We’re terrified. We’re a hospitality-focused business. Incorporating technologies and maintaining customer services is a big concern for us as a brand.”

Invite Servers to Weigh in on Mobile Technology Early

As the industry embraces mobile technology, the question of how these innovations will affect front of house workers is raised.  Our panelists noted that reactions have been mixed. Dinard explains that servers appreciate new technologies, “When the IT guys and marketers get out of the office and engage with your servers, that’s when they get excited.”

While other panelist experienced more hesitancy from their servers, Maroney described her servers’ transition to newer technologies as a productivity boost, “When we started testing this, we didn’t see excitement. Once they saw how it changed the table turns, they started to get excited.”

While most of the panelists had experienced the growing pains associated with new tech, such as clunky software or iPads knocking over glasses, it is undeniable that mobile innovations will have a significant impact on the restaurant industry this year. Make sure that your restaurant or group keeps up. Learn how SinglePlatform can help your company navigate mobile and stand out everywhere it matters online.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter