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5 Critical Steps to Take When Reopening a Café During Coronavirus

5 Critical Steps to Take When Reopening a Café During Coronavirus

5 Critical Steps to Take When Reopening a Café During Coronavirus 5472 3648 PoppinPay

With the COVID-19 pandemic curve flattening, many business owners wonder when they can re-open their doors and get back in action. While it’s hard to say when any given restaurant or café is safe to continue operations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out a set of guidelines to help businesses be responsible when they do re-open their doors.

We’ve distilled this information into five critical steps for easy reading, though the CDC’s detailed report is available to view at the bottom of this article.

1. Review Re-Opening Plans and Phasing

Your first step is to get familiar with the COVID-19 reopening plans set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other safety practices set forth by the CDC.

The idea here is to get acquainted with the recommended strategies for safe business operation, disinfection, and employee management. Part of this requires that you review the infection curve data in your city as well as your city’s plans for re-opening.

As noted in the CDC’s guidelines, this re-opening will be done in three phases:

  • Phase 1 – Restaurant operations limited to drive-through, delivery, and curbside takeout
  • Phase 2 – Restaurants may open dining areas with limited capacity and observe social distancing
  • Phase 3 – Restaurants may operate normally while maintaining social distancing

More than anything else, local and state ordinances will determine when your café is allowed to re-open, so make sure to keep tabs on these recommendations as you create your re-opening plan.

2. Get Ready to Clean and Disinfect

One of the best ways for cafés to prevent the spread of germs is to double down on their cleaning and disinfecting practices. Set up an aggressive schedule that pays special attention to frequently touched surfaces:

  • Door handles
  • Countertops
  • Screens of your point-of-sale terminal
  • Work stations
  • Cutting boards
  • Condiment holders

(As an aside, make sure to use appropriate cleaning products for each application. Disinfectants may be less effective on certain surfaces, so assess your café’s needs and make sure you’re stocked up.)

Of course, you’ll need to encourage good hygiene by all employees. Make sure all staff members wash their hands regularly and wear some type of protective face covering to prevent the spread of airborne virus particles. Glove use is controversial, so if you require it of your employees, make sure it makes sense. Insist that every employee treats cleanliness as a priority.

3. Maintain Social Distancing

As COVID-19 can be easily transmitted through person-to-person contact, social distancing is (and will likely remain) a chief countermeasure over the coming months.

The severity of your area’s social distancing requirements will depend on your local ordinances and what phase of re-opening you’re in. However, there are a few easy things you can do to encourage customers’ social distancing, regardless of your re-opening phase.

  • Limit café services to those dictated by local ordinances
  • Install physical barriers between customers and employees at the POS
  • Restrict the number of customers allowed in the building
  • Consider staggering employee schedules to minimize the number of workers on each shift
  • Add signage, posters, or floor markers that encourage people to maintain adequate social distance

Of course, these are just a few examples. There are plenty of other ways to encourage social distancing, including—as the CDC recommends—using mobile technology to minimize interaction customers have with employees. Any tools you can use to keep customers and workers safe are fair game.

4. Set Up a Monitoring Strategy

Keep tabs on disease transmission among your team. Ideally, you’ll set up strong hygienic practices that keep your employees safe. Café owners can’t just assume that things will be fine. You need to have a system for checking the signs and symptoms of your employees throughout the re-opening process.

Set up daily health checks to take each employee’s temperature and assess whether he/she has any Covid-19 symptoms. When in doubt, encourage the employee to stay home.

This is another area where it pays to get familiar with the health resources in your city. If your region is lucky enough to have COVID-19 tests available, encourage symptomatic employees to get an official diagnosis. Of course, you’ll need to handle these checks in a way that respects each team member’s confidentially, but it’s a worthwhile addition to your re-opening strategy. The more info you have, the better.

5. Create a Plan for Sick Employees

Even with your best efforts, you may not be able to prevent your employees from getting sick. And if they do, you need to be ready to respond with an action plan in place.

Any employees who experience COVID-19 symptoms should immediately be sent home. Any workers who had contact with the employee should self-monitor for any emerging issues and self-isolate until they can be reasonably sure that they’re not sick. (It helps to have flexible sick leave policies to discourage workers from coming in.)

If any employee does end up with a COVID-19 diagnosis, the café owner should notify local health authorities and take specific precautions to disinfect the area before continuing service. Typically, businesses with a verified COVID-19 case will need to close for a few days to get things cleaned up, though the exact timetable for this will depend on your region’s disease transmission data and the severity of the case itself.

A Safe and Methodical Approach to Re-Opening Your Café

The above guidelines are a CDC-backed framework for safely re-opening restaurants and cafés, but at the end of the day, recommendations are just that. It’s up to the café owners to asses their situation and apply these rules in their own businesses. It’s certainly possible to do, but it must be done with care.

If you want a full accounting of the CDC’s guidelines, the CDC has the full text here.

How Mobile Order Ahead Boosts Your Team’s Productivity

How Mobile Order Ahead Boosts Your Team’s Productivity

How Mobile Order Ahead Boosts Your Team’s Productivity 4997 3331 PoppinPay

For quick service restaurants (QSRs), an ongoing goal is to provide faster service and better products all without sacrificing the customer experience. And on that score, solutions like mobile order ahead offer some clear advantages for customers who are interested in getting in and out fast.

After all, what better way is there to improve the customer experience than giving them the means to order when they want, from where they want, and letting them skip the line when they arrive? From a QSR perspective, this is a dream come true. But while the benefits are centered around your customers, they aren’t limited to your customers. In other words, mobile order ahead can bring some interesting benefits to an employee workforce that are worth a second look.

Will More Orders Speed Things Up or Slow Them Down?

“Now hang on a minute,” we can already hear a few of our readers saying. “Earlier you said that mobile order ahead for restaurants was in demand. But more demand means more work! How can that boost productivity?”

This is a great question that’s worth exploring. QSR owners with overworked teams may rightfully feel that new solutions will bring challenges and opportunities in equal measure. After all, if your team is already at capacity, bringing in a new, substantial source of customer orders may complicate things. Overworked teams slow down, the in-store customer experience suffers, and overall, QSR quality drops.

Right?

Not necessarily. It’s natural for managers to be concerned about overworking their teams, but rest assured – mobile order ahead can address this issue through the innovative way it empowers your workforce.

Mobile Order Ahead Boosts Worker Productivity

There’s plenty of talk out there about how mobile order ahead improves customer experiences, but there’s less focus on how it can support the employees steering the ship. So, let’s go over the basics and dispel any notions that your team won’t be able to handle a mobile order-ahead solution.

Less Time Spent Taking Orders

We’ve all seen it happen. The queue moves forward at our favorite coffeeshop or sandwich joint, pushing a first-time customer to the register.

“What’ll it be?” The cashier might say.

“Well, I’m not sure…” the customer inevitably replies.

This kicks off a five-minute discussion between cashier and customer in which the customer asks question after question, kicking the tires of every choice until he/she is finally ready to purchase.

It’s good customer service to accommodate these guests. But meanwhile, you have a frustrated queue of customers stewing in the background, some of whom may be rushed with little time to waste. If any of these customers leave, you’ve lost revenue.

Mobile order ahead subverts this issue by giving customers a way to browse and order well ahead of their visit. Within the app, they can browse their options, note substitutions, and place their order, all without taking up any of your employees’ time. Sure, not every customer will take advantage of it, but many of them will – and for every one that does, you’re earning a sale without any need for direct input from your team.

Less Money Management

Along the same lines, it’s fair to say that few employees enjoy managing money. It’s an essential part of the job, but between ringing up orders, explaining prices to customers, and handling card, cash, and coin, the money management process gobbles up a lot of time.

And while modern payment processing systems for QSRs have certainly sped this process up compared to the days of paper checks, all that counting is still one of the less appealing parts of the job for many QSR employees. Mobile order ahead offers a method for capturing that revenue without requiring your team members to spend time handling money. Over the course of a normal week, this could mean whole hours freed up to focus on other tasks.

More Focus on Production

So, employees aren’t taking orders, and they aren’t handling money. What they heck are they doing? The answer, of course, is doubling down on production!

When employees are freed from needing to deal with administrative functions like register management or money collection, they have more time to spend on the actual day-to-day tasks that produce value for the QSR. And in many cases, this experience can pay dividends for the customer experience.

Think about how this applies to QSRs on the level of, say, Starbucks. It’s easy for a Starbucks employee to produce a tall drip coffee, but what about an iced venti vanilla/caramel decaf frappuccino? This type of order takes some serious practice to get right, and even after several attempts, the employee may still have a long way to go.

Let your team forgo the hassles of administrative work and focus on the tasks that require real skill to pull off. The more training they get, the better they’ll be – to create better, more consistent experiences for all customers.

Mobile Order Ahead Supports Queue Management

All of the above benefits come down to this: When you have a mobile order-ahead solution, the queue becomes much less intimidating to deal with.

Sure, employees will need to balance their in-store customer against an increasing flow of mobile orders, but as noted above, those mobile orders don’t require nearly as much time or administrative input to complete. No customers holding up the line, no money changing hands, no confusion. It’s a simple system that helps the company maintain its revenue in a way that supports both customers and employees, all in one move.

If you’re curious about exploring mobile order ahead for your business, we encourage you to contact PoppinPay for a quick assessment of your company. A mobile order ahead solution is closer than you think!

Every Day Counts – How Mobile and Online Order Ahead Help Square Merchants During the Coronavirus

Every Day Counts – How Mobile and Online Order Ahead Help Square Merchants During the Coronavirus

Every Day Counts – How Mobile and Online Order Ahead Help Square Merchants During the Coronavirus 5542 3382 PoppinPay

The coronavirus pandemic is bringing all of us into uncharted territory and order ahead may be the only solution right now for restaurants. Among all of the economic uncertainties that are developing by the day, it’s understandable that small business owners are worried about the future. As we’re seeing, the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting the food service/restaurant industry particularly hard, with many businesses struggling to keep their doors open in the wake of social distancing and forced closures.

There’s a lot to be worried about, but if we had to find a silver lining here, it’s that these changes have sparked a surge in marketing creativity for small businesses. Even in just the past few weeks, we’ve seen small quick-service restaurants (QSRs) move to online ordering, mobile order ahead, curbside pickup, and even makeshift delivery – all in the interest of keeping customers fed while also keeping the lights on.

This is the point we’d like to stress, here. Although QSRs are feeling economic pressure, it is possible to adapt and put yourself in a better position to weather the storm.

Update – Social Distancing and Shelter-in-Place

As of March 27th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alongside other data aggregators report that the United States has over 90,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is the highest total of any country we’ve seen so far, and numbers continue to rise.

Naturally, travel bans are in place, and healthcare resources are tight. Both local and federal governments have recommended social distancing measures as a primary way to stop the spread (defined as staying at least 6 feet away from others in public situations). Of course, we’re beginning to see non-essential businesses close in the more heavily affected states, and many of these states are enacting “shelter-in-place” orders to limit movement outside of essential activities.

But of course, foraging for food falls into the category of “essential”, and plenty of us who are hunkered down in our homes rely on having access to takeout and delivery services. (This is particularly important, given that public panic has pushed some to clear out their local grocery store shelves.)

In other words, restaurants remaining open are putting themselves on the front lines in the interest of public service – and those of us outside food service are certainly grateful. But with that in mind, it’s important to look at how these restaurants offer service. After all, public safety is paramount, and QSRs who want to keep the revenue flowing need to adapt their services in turn.

And for the foreseeable future, these adaptations will largely involve off-premise ordering solutions – mobile orders, contactless delivery, takeout, and so on.

Off-Premise Ordering Is a Necessity

Given how many of us are working from home these days, it’s clear that the pandemic has been an impetus for companies to go digital in one way or another. The push for off-premise ordering solutions is just another example.

It’s fair to say that online ordering and mobile ordering are some of the best ways to reach customers in the era of social distancing. And in truth, they’re some of the only ways to offer service in a safe, responsible way. As long as lockdowns are in effect and customers are encouraged to quarantine, off-premise ordering will rule the day.

Of course, we’ve talked at length about the benefits of solutions like mobile order ahead in previous posts. But given everything that’s been going on, it’s hard to overstate the value of these apps. Social pressure to stay indoors is rising, and as more of us get stuck inside, we’ll increasingly rely on digital ordering solutions to get food on the table.

This is why it’s so important for QSRs who use the Square point-of-sale (POS) to explore all of their off-premise ordering options. Partners like PoppinPay have made it their mission to provide secure, off-premise ordering solutions for Square users – offerings that include online ordering and mobile order ahead applications for small businesses.

These solutions are branded to each business and offer a simple way to enable digital ordering, update online menus, and handle all payments off-site through Square. It’s a great system for any QSR, but it’s particularly important these days, because customers need solutions now. QSRs can’t afford to wait weeks or months to offer online ordering; the time to act is here.

Fortunately for Square users, PoppinPay has made it easy to set up and deploy these mobile ordering tools. Although it won’t happen overnight (online ordering can be in as little as a few days, while a mobile app will be 3-4 weeks), it’s a system that was built to be rolled out efficiently – even for smaller companies. And given how fast things are moving, companies without some type of off-premise ordering solution are putting themselves at risk. Right now, every day counts.

Protect Your Customers – And Your Business

This pandemic is teaching us a lot about our society, our economy, and our businesses. And if there’s any takeaway that’s readily apparent from all this, it’s that certain business solutions – such as off-premise mobile order ahead – are more important than many QSRs realize. After all, before the outbreak began, many people viewed mobile ordering as a mere marketing tool. But today, we see that it’s much more than that. Right now, it’s one of the only truly safe and secure ways you can accept customers’ orders without exposing them – or your staff – to undue risk.

And even though times are getting tight, it’s not too late to look into these solutions! The situation is still evolving, and companies who are proactive about adapting their processes will be much more resilient to the coming pressures we’ll inevitably face.

Don’t waste time! If you’re a Square merchant finding that your business could benefit from a wider range of ordering options, PoppinPay will be there to help you every step of the way.

Why Food Trucks Are Next Frontier for Mobile Order Ahead Options

Why Food Trucks Are Next Frontier for Mobile Order Ahead Options

Why Food Trucks Are Next Frontier for Mobile Order Ahead Options 865 686 PoppinPay

Mobile order ahead was once the exclusive domain of brick-and-mortar quick service restaurants (QSRs). Now, mobile order ahead is becoming a viable channel for food trucks. There’s a clear consumer preference for mobile ordering that’s pushing the industry to a $38 billion valuation by 2020—but such high adoption rates indicate that brick-and-mortar businesses aren’t the only ones getting on board.

Food Trucks Are the Quintessential QSRs

If we consider what a “QSR” is, then food trucks are the perfect embodiment of the concept. Food trucks are designed for convenience and speed, giving customers a way to grab a bite without going in a building or waiting for a busy kitchen to catch up.

It’s a profitable niche that’s expected to reach nearly $1 billion in value by 2020, but as food truck vendors know, their unique system of operation comes with its own set of challenges.

Customers can order their food easily—but they still need to wait for the food to be prepared. And when a truck is popular, there’s almost always a line for ordering. This cuts into one of the main value propositions of food trucks—speed—and makes it less likely that customers will stick around.

After all, many food truck customers are people on the go who need to eat but don’t have the time to visit a more traditional restaurant. In these cases, long wait lines and slow service often represent money taken elsewhere.

Mobile Order Ahead for Food Trucks

Given the nature of food truck service, mobile order-ahead options may be the perfect solution to these challenges.

At its core, mobile order ahead lets QSRs build out their service channels to reach customers via mobile app or web browser. Businesses with the right mobile order-ahead partner can upload their menus into a simple interface and reap the benefits of a fully-integrated digital ordering solution that brings the food truck directly to the customer.

But wait. Doesn’t the food truck already go directly to the customer?

Well, yes—food trucks do have flexibility in that regard—but mobile-ordering options provide a much-needed digital channel that lets customers connect to the roving food truck from anywhere and everywhere.

It works just the same way as it does for more traditional QSRs like Starbucks. Rather than waiting in line for coffee, customers can have their Unicorn Frappuccinos made in advance, ready for pickup at a moment’s notice. The same concept applies to the fast-moving world of food trucks.

By letting customers order ahead through their preferred digital channel, this industry is opening up service possibilities in some interesting new ways.

Sell More Through Mobile Order Ahead

Primarily, mobile order ahead comes down to convenience. Food truck customers can order ahead, skip the walk-in line, and get their food quickly. This is a clear advantage for this particular customer segment, as food truck purchases (especially in more crowded, competitive areas) are often a matter of convenience. Which trucks are nearby, and which have the longest lines?

A line wrapped around the truck can turn potential customers away if they have a tight lunch schedule—but with mobile order ahead, you can capture more of this revenue and increase your throughput at the same time. (Lines move a lot faster when everyone’s order is ready!)

Support customers with efficient service

But it’s not just about attracting new business. As companies like Starbucks have learned, it’s about supporting your regular, most loyal customers as well. Every food truck owner gets to know a few regulars who come back time and again. Mobile order-ahead options help these customers establish their routines and receive the same speed, quality, and level of service that they’ve come to expect. It’s not just about earning new customers. It’s about delighting the customers you have—an important and under-represented aspect of QSR customer service.

Showcase menu options and upsell

Don’t forget about the visibility this method can bring to your brand as well! A common problem for vendors of any kind, and food trucks in particular, is advertising space. Compared to other QSRs, food trucks have limited room for displaying menu boards, options, or promotions. Creating a mobile component gives you a new platform for sharing all of this information.

When customers have the whole menu at their fingertips, they’ll be more willing to browse and explore new offerings rather than just getting their usual order and rushing through the line. In this way, mobile order ahead for food trucks can be a powerful way to upsell and promote higher-value products.

Mobile Ordering Is the Future

Yes, while there’s no replacing the tried-and-true physical appeal of a roving food truck, mobile-ordering options are the future of QSR outreach. This applies even more so to roving vendors, as customers need stable, reliable ways to find the truck on schedule and place orders without hesitation.

The practice is catching on for food truck vendors, but it’s certainly not stopping there. Companies across all areas of food service and hospitality are exploring these options to great effect. In fact, in one survey, 59% of respondents agreed they were facing disruption from competitors who had already deployed mobile order-ahead options.

Is your company ready to get on board?

Top 5 Best Practices for Rolling Out Your Mobile Order Ahead App

Top 5 Best Practices for Rolling Out Your Mobile Order Ahead App

Top 5 Best Practices for Rolling Out Your Mobile Order Ahead App 1512 2016 PoppinPay

So, you’ve finally taken the leap and moved forward with your mobile order ahead app. Your logos are in place, the menus look great, and everything is ready to go. With all the effort you’ve already put into setting up the app and getting it ready, you want to make sure that your customers know about it.

Rolling out your app takes more than just clicking a button and watching it go live; it’s a process. Doing it well takes planning. The more you work on the unveiling of your app, the better it will be for your business. Here are the best practices for rolling out your mobile order ahead app.

Plan the Release Date in Advance

The first thing you should do is set a firm release date. Setting an exact date will help your customers prepare themselves and get excited for the new addition to their favorite restaurant.

Remember when you were little, and your birthday was coming up? The excitement level for your big day grew with every hour as the time got closer, and it’s all because you knew something big was going to happen on that specific day. Rolling out your mobile order ahead app is no different. Giving your customers a specific date to look forward to is the first step in generating buzz to ensure that everyone knows about your new app.

Create a Website or Landing Page

Before you release your app, make sure you have a functioning website. Not only can it be a helpful tool for rolling out your app, but it’s also the primary way that people search for your restaurant. Over 90 percent of people research restaurants before choosing one. Websites are an essential way to attract traffic to your business, especially for a QSR.

Once you have a website, build a separate landing page specifically for your order ahead app. Studies show that the biggest source of app installs is from a company’s website. If 90 percent of new customers are looking through your website before they come to eat, then each one of those people will see that you’re about to debut a brand new app, which is a bonus considering the growing demand for order ahead apps. Make sure to include app features along with the release date. The more information you make available, the more exciting it will be for your customers.

Promote

“Promoting” your new app is a broad term. It can be done in any number of ways. The more you promote, the more people will know your app. There are countless ways to promote your mobile order ahead app:

  • Social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram
  • Physical promotions – flyers, banners, signs, pamphlets
  • Word of mouth – get your employees to talk up the app to customers
  • Email updates

Beyond your website, social media can be a quick way to get your message out to thousands of people immediately. The best part: They don’t need to actively visit your restaurant or webpage. Most of the time, it’s put right in front of their eyes without you having to do a thing. It’s cheap and effective. Use it! Creating a hashtag for your business or your app can be an easy way to spread information to people who may not otherwise see it.

Your QSR is already getting a steady flow of customers through the door. Use your restaurant itself to increase buzz. Put flyers and banners in the lobby, pamphlets on the tables, even put a short blurb about the app right in the menu to make sure that every customer who comes through the door will learn about it. Besides, existing customers will be the most excited about the new order ahead app.

In addition to the physical promotions, make sure your staff is kept up to date on the app release. They will be your best promotion engine since they interact directly with the customers. Get them to generate buzz, talk about the app, and get people excited. Every person who gets excited about the app will tell their friends and family.

For Square customers, Square offers a marketing upgrade to help you promote your business and app. This includes the ability to create personalized email campaigns so that all your customers can stay up to date with business changes and promotions. These promotions can come in handy to help push your app before it’s officially rolled out. Once the app has been released, email campaigns can continue to remind customers to download and use the app.

Pay Attention to Customer Feedback

As a business owner, you might not be aware of how some aspects of your business look from the customer’s perspective. Once your app has been officially rolled out, make sure you listen to any and all customer feedback so that you can adapt the app to meet the customers’ needs (you’ll have to prioritize these as they come in). Your mobile order ahead app should be a living thing. It needs to evolve with ongoing features. The people who can give you the best advice on how to make the app better are the people who use it.

Treat the App as an Extension of the Business

Many QSR owners see the order ahead app as a bubble. It exists alone in a world all its own as an aide to the company. That, however, is not the case. Think of the app as an extension of your business. They are one entity. Make the app enhance the in-store experience and make the in-store experience enhance the app. It’s not a one-way street. Making the app and the business one cohesive unit will create a better user experience both for customers dining in and those ordering from the app.

By thinking ahead and using these practices, you can ensure a successful unveiling of your business’s mobile order ahead app.

Order Ahead Apps: Enterprise Features with a Personal Touch

Order Ahead Apps: Enterprise Features with a Personal Touch

Order Ahead Apps: Enterprise Features with a Personal Touch 5472 3648 PoppinPay

Large QSR leaders are using mobile order ahead apps in ways that are completely changing the foodservice industry. In the age of instant gratification, customers are turning away from the traditional, wait-in-line method of ordering food and moving toward more efficient, mobile-driven operations.

Since 2014, digital ordering through mobile order-ahead apps has grown more than 300% faster than dining in, and by 2020, it’s estimated that 11% of all QSR sales will be initiated by a mobile app. As the trends increase toward a mobile future, businesses of all sizes should be working to keep up with the changing times.

Necessary Features

The entire purpose of mobile order-ahead apps is to increase efficiency and cut down on customer wait times. But as the old saying goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Industry leaders are always coming up with innovative new ways to promote efficiency. Here are some of the features that have become standard in the QSR world:

  • Mobile ordering: Of course, this one is a no brainer. The whole point of the app is to allow customers to submit their order before they come to the restaurant. Customers can place their order on their mobile device, and once they get to the restaurant, all they have to do is pick it up. There are no lines or waiting required.

 

  • Re-order favorites: Many industry leaders have built in an option to allow customers to re-order favorites from their order history. Not only does it help customers get through the checkout process faster, but the fewer steps that a person has to take, the more likely she is to do it frequently, improving customer retention.

 

  • Loyalty programs: Along with re-orders, loyalty programs are another effective feature for customer retention. Building a loyalty program right into your mobile order-ahead app creates a seamless process between ordering and earning reward points. Many QSR leaders are showing incredible success using loyalty programs.

 

  • Saving payment details: The most important rule for mobile order-ahead app development is: If it can be made more efficient, it should be. By saving payment details, apps can save customers from taking the time to put in their information whenever they want to place an order. If given the choice between placing an order with the touch of a button and having to type out payment information, customers would pick the former, regardless of product quality. People tend to choose the path of least resistance.

 

  • Digital menus: Over 90% of people research a restaurant before eating there. Even if they’ve been to the restaurant before, it’s always helpful to go back to the menu to find new things to try. It has become mandatory for mobile order-ahead apps to have a digital menu available for guests to look at while they’re planning their order. This is also a great way to promote new dishes and deals.

App Expectations

Major QSR leaders like Starbucks and Taco Bell can afford to develop, launch, and market fully-customized branded mobile order-ahead apps. These apps are developed specifically for the company, down to every last button and swipe stroke. Unfortunately for smaller businesses, these highly-customized apps from industry leaders are exactly what customers have come to expect from mobile order-ahead apps.

SMBs and smaller QSRs don’t have the time, money, or resources to put into developing a customized app like the major players do but need one just the same. If an app is poorly developed, it could end up hurting a business more than it could potentially help. Luckily, there are cost-effective options for small to mid-sized QSRs that don’t require the money and tech know-how that the industry leaders have. Professional order-ahead apps like PoppinPay provide enterprise-level features and functionality without the enterprise-level price tag.

Small Business Solutions

Square is one of the most popular payment processing methods for smaller QSRs. Some apps, like PoppinPay, can integrate directly with your Square system to provide a professional-level mobile order-ahead app for your business at a fraction of the price.

Forget the major development costs that many of the QSR leaders pay. A Square integrated mobile order ahead app can get your business mobile for a one-time setup fee and a low, no-contract monthly subscription, while still offering the important features that have become industry standard.

To start, just send over your brand colors and logo, and a creative team will design an app branded for your business. You’ll be able to manage digital menus, take orders, implement loyalty programs, and even accept payments all through your new, professional mobile order-ahead app.

QSR leaders have teams of experts to maintain their software and provide updates. Small businesses don’t have the resources to devote that much energy to keeping up with technology; they have better things to do! By using a Square integrated mobile order ahead app like PoppinPay, once the app is made, just sit back and reap the benefits. There’s little to no maintenance required. Let the dedicated team of experts handle the technology, so you can just focus on making your customers happy.

Enterprise Features without the Enterprise Price Tag

There’s no doubt that mobile-based ordering is the future of foodservice. For small to mid-sized QSRs trying to keep up with an ever-changing industry, implementing a fully-branded mobile order ahead app is one of the best ways to stay competitive. Square integrated apps can easily work with your current setup and provide you with top-of-the-line features for a fraction of what the industry leaders pay.

Why the Difference Between Mobile Order Ahead Apps and QSR Aggregators Matters

Why the Difference Between Mobile Order Ahead Apps and QSR Aggregators Matters

Why the Difference Between Mobile Order Ahead Apps and QSR Aggregators Matters 6000 4000 PoppinPay

Mobile order ahead technology continues to carve out its slice of the QSR pie, and for good reason. Customers are accustomed to having it their way, and customer preferences for ordering food lean toward mobile these days.

Restaurants have reacted by taking advantage of digital solutions like websites and mobile apps in order to get their food in front of consumers. Mobile order ahead has entered a space ripe with digital innovations that make it easy for consumers to find, pay for, and get their hands on their favorite foods.

Restaurant owners want innovative solutions to age-old challenges. Many are turning to QSR aggregator sites because they can’t afford a branded mobile app. Fortunately, when you partner with the right mobile order-ahead technology provider, you can bridge the gap without breaking the bank.

The Difference Between Mobile Order-Ahead Apps and QSR Aggregators

One of the biggest players in the digital QSR space—paving the way for order-ahead technology and complementing mobile ordering apps—are restaurant aggregator services. QSR aggregator sites are digital buffets where diners find a number of different restaurant flavors in their area, and aggregators are good at what they do.

Companies like Grubhub, DoorDash and, more recently, Uber Eats add just the right amount of spice to the mix, giving restaurants an online and mobile way to be seen while also providing options for customers. As a result, restaurants haven’t been as quick to create their own mobile app.

Big names in QSR like Taco Bell and Pizza Hut invest a lot of money and manpower into developing their mobile apps, and smaller restaurants and chains don’t always have those kind of resources. Aggregator sites, with their own proprietary apps, were the only mobile option for a while.

What’s great about an order ahead app like PoppinPay—and what sets apart affordable mobile order-ahead technology as a complement rather than a competitor to aggregators—is the ability to brand an app without paying enterprise-level prices.

Why Aggregator Sites Still Appeal to Restaurants

Mobile apps, whether they’re expensive or affordable, aren’t meant to be the end-all to advertising and ordering innovation for restaurants. Smart QSR operators know that it’s a good idea to advertise through as many appropriate channels as possible, resources permitting. That’s why mobile ordering and aggregator sites get along well together in a digital space.

Aggregator sites are still popular as mobile disrupts the restaurant space for the same reasons they first attracted QSRs—they’re easy, convenient, and offer customers a way to order online.

But restaurant owners realize aggregators aren’t the only option as mobile order-ahead technology disrupts the restaurant space.

How Mobile Order Ahead Bridges the Gap

Most aggregator sites charge you a percentage per order placed through their platform. For example, Door Dash advertises that you can make “up to 60% net profit on incremental orders.” That means each order you send out to a customer is costing you part of your profit. Furthermore, you don’t get a lot of online real estate compared to any other restaurant listed on an aggregator’s website. Every restaurant is presented the same way, because aggregators want a cohesive user experience.

The right mobile order-ahead app gives QSR operators more options for personalization.

An affordable mobile order-ahead app is an innovative way to create your own personalized, branded, and professional mobile presence without the enterprise-level expense. You get enough online real estate to sell your restaurant’s personal flavor while still giving customers an easy and convenient mobile ordering solution.

The best mobile order-ahead apps even make the adoption process an easy one.

For instance, PoppinPay integrates with Square, a popular payment platform that a lot of local, smaller-scale restaurants already use for payment processing. You get an attractive, new mobile ordering app, and you don’t need to change a thing about the way you do business.

Mobile Order Ahead Technology Complements Restaurant Aggregators

Again, don’t think of mobile order ahead as unnecessary competition if you’re already on the QSR aggregator bandwagon. And don’t let being part of an aggregator platform scare you away from putting a mobile app like PoppinPay to work for you.

Your affordable, personalized mobile app is one of many tools in your advertising toolbox. You grow your QSR business more effectively and efficiently the more tools you’re able to work with.

With that in mind, think of restaurant aggregators as the hammer to your mobile order-ahead tape measure. One is for hitting as many online and mobile customers in your area as possible. The other is for providing a more measured, personalized mobile ordering experience. You can do a lot of business building when you use both.

7 Incredible Facts About Mobile Order Ahead in 2020

7 Incredible Facts About Mobile Order Ahead in 2020

7 Incredible Facts About Mobile Order Ahead in 2020 6048 3400 PoppinPay

The idea of placing a food order ahead of pickup is nothing new. What is new to the restaurant landscape, and especially the fast food and quick service restaurant (QSR) space, is mobile order ahead.

Mobile order ahead technology positions itself as an alluring must-have QSR innovation in 2020. QSRs generated $273 billion in revenue in the United States in 2019, and restaurant owners are keen to increase their piece of the profit pie through mobile ordering.

The facts are hard to ignore, whether you’re a new QSR operator or a seasoned professional. Here are seven compelling reasons to jump on the mobile order ahead bandwagon in 2020.

1. 60% of Digital Orders are Through a Mobile App

It’s estimated that global e-retail sales will reach $4.8 trillion by 2021, so it’s no surprise that consumers choose to do their shopping online when the option is available. It’s convenient and relatively stress free, which is a win for both the consumer and the business.

Traditional sit-down restaurants have been a little slower to adopt online ordering, but you’d have trouble finding a modern fast food or QSR chain without a sophisticated website these days. That said, too many websites feature only the menu and a contact number to call to place an order. It’s only recently that customers were given the option to order online without talking to someone on-site.

Mobile consumers demand mobile solutions, and after a slow start, QSRs are now adapting. According to the market research company The NDP group, 60% of digital orders are through a mobile app today.

2. Mobile Orders Will Be Responsible for 11% of all QSR sales by 2021

Doubling down on the fact that digital orders are predominantly through mobiles apps, The NDP group goes on to predict that mobile ordering and order-ahead apps will carve out a substantial portion of all QSR sales soon. Mobile orders will be responsible for 11% of all QSR sales by 2021.

Early adopters like Starbucks are already reaping the rewards of mobile order ahead and mobile payment. The company made mobile order and pay available to all customers nationwide in 2015, and by Q1 of 2017 mobile was responsible for 7% of all U.S. company-operated transactions.

3. Order Ahead Already Increases Average Order Size by 20%

The big boys on the QSR block are usually the ones to pioneer or test big industry innovations. Taco Bell was one of the first large chain QSRs to roll out an order-ahead app for its customers, and the benefits were almost immediately realized.

The company launched its mobile order-ahead app in late 2014. By mid-2015, Taco Bell was reporting that average order size through their mobile app was 20% greater than their in-store average order size. This figure jumped to 30% by the end of Q4 2016.

4. 65% of QSR Managers Say App Orders Improve the Customer Experience

Customer loyalty programs continue to evolve as QSR technology tries to match consumer demands, and marketers keep trying to personalize the customer experience in ways that convert. Mobile apps make it easier for customers to engage with a brand. But, surprisingly, there are still QSR managers who need convincing. That’s what 2020 and mobile-ahead success is going to do.

Research conducted by the payment news and research group PYMNTS points out that 65% of QSR managers say app orders improve the customer experience. This sounds like good news. What it really means is that 35% of management is still slow to catch on because customers like ordering through mobile.

5. 92% of Customers Like Ordering Through Mobile

Consumers are mobile by nature these days. In fact, mobile is taking over so completely that CNBC reports that 3 in 10 adults don’t carry cash anymore.

The same PYMNTS research cited above noted that 92% of customers have a positive view of using an app to place a QSR order. Consumers are confident that mobile ordering and payment is the preferred way to interact with QSR brands. This is good news for restaurants with the order-ahead option on the service menu in 2020.

6. Customers Prefer Branded Apps and Websites to Third-Party Options

Brand loyalty is strong even in today’s have-it-now economy. That means consumers are more likely to invest their time and money through branded and recognizable outlets. This holds true for QSR establishments in 2020.

A recent Restaurant Success Report from restaurant solution provider confirmed that patrons would rather go through a restaurant’s website when ordering online than through a third-party site like Grubhub.

Why is this significant? Because QSRs that have branded, reliable mobile order-ahead solutions are going to capture consumer interest in 2020. Mobile order-ahead providers like PoppinPay make it easy to keep your brand flavor and create a solution that works for you and your customers.

7. 59% of Restaurant Owners Face Disruption from Order-Ahead Competitors

Streamlining the customer experience and providing a mobile order-ahead option for consumer convenience is all well and good. But more restaurant managers will be adopting mobile order-ahead solutions for another reason—to stay ahead of the competition.

Mobile ordering is catching on so much that it’s affecting restaurants that don’t offer it. PYMNTS reports that 59% of restaurant operators are facing the heat and feeling disruption from competitors who have already adopted mobile order-ahead technology.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of room for growth in 2020 because PYMNTS also points out in their Restaurant Readiness Index that only 30% of smaller QSR establishments have mobile apps for ordering.

It’s Not Too Late to Adopt Mobile Order Ahead

2020 is going to be a year of mobile dominance, and QSRs big and small will either adopt order-ahead solutions or get left behind. That said, it’s not too late to get in on the order-ahead action. PoppinPay experts are ready to help you get started with mobile order ahead.

9 Incredible Statistics About Online Ordering for Restaurants

9 Incredible Statistics About Online Ordering for Restaurants

9 Incredible Statistics About Online Ordering for Restaurants 5100 3400 PoppinPay

Who doesn’t love online ordering for restaurants? It’s easier than phone ordering, it’s faster than waiting in line, and best of all, you get in and out of the restaurant faster.

And according to research, the trend is catching on for quick service restaurants (QSRs) across the board. Businesses are fast realizing how useful online ordering can be for boosting revenue and enhancing their customers’ experience—and with these statistics in mind, you’ll see why.

  1. 90% of customers research a restaurant online before visiting

This outpaces most other business verticals by far. And really, it represents a perfect opportunity for QSRs. Part of consumer’ research will bring them around to your site in some way, and if they do visit, what better way to snag their business than offering an online ordering solution? Tap into the visibility you already have and make it as easy as possible for them to order.

  1. Nearly half (45%) of customers agree that mobile ordering options and loyalty programs encourage them to use online ordering

Revenue for QSRs is driven by quality, speed, and convenience. Most restaurants get the first two down as a matter of course but lag on the third. As survey data shows, customers will often use convenience tools when they can—provided that they facilitate a smooth transaction with the QSR itself. Use this to your advantage when deploying a digital ordering system. Or in other words: Build it, and they will come.

  1. 34% of customers will pay up to $50 per online order

Online ordering is great for businesses because of just how easy it is to spend money through online channels. We’ve all been there. When you’re in the privacy of your home, and you have the whole menu in front of you, it’s a little too easy to indulge. You got your entrée—but those chips look good, too. And there are lots of dips to choose from … and dessert is discounted on weekends! Retailers like Amazon have enjoyed this lesser-discussed benefit of online shopping for years, and with online ordering, your company can too.

  1. Online ordering for restaurants can boost takeout revenue by 30%

See point number three. We’re talking incremental sales, folks. Give customers the option to order at their leisure, and you’ll see better revenue than you would by limiting their choices to in-store or phone.

  1. Millennial consumers get takeout nearly as often as dining in (40% vs. 42%) 

This statistic highlights an important trend for restaurateurs: The coveted Millennial population leads every other generation in their preference for takeout orders. Chalk it up to a lack of time, the convenience of online ordering, or the Millennial preference for tech solutions over human interaction. Any way you look at it, Millennial customers love ordering through digital channels and will likely continue to do so—signaling good things for the online ordering market.

  1. Mobile ordering will encompass nearly 11% of all QSR sales by 2020

For consumers, mobile and online ordering are handy tools. For QSRs interested in growth, they’re a prescription. Give the customers what they want, and they’ll pay it back in kind.

  1. The average profit margin for a restaurant is less than 30%

Profit margins in hospitality are razor thin. Thirty percent is laughably optimistic for most QSRs—which is why they need to be so careful about which solutions they bring to their customers.

Value-adding service providers like Uber Eats take significant cuts from every order, making them a poor choice for most cash-strapped QSRs. Conversely, how many of us can afford to invest hundreds of thousands into a dedicated, in-house mobile app? Look for a middle-ground, here and find a service provider who can enable digital ordering in your point-of-sale (POS) software through a simple, low-cost subscription.

  1. 42% of customers want to see pre-ordering features more than any other in a QSR’s mobile app 

It’s no surprise that pre-ordering and mobile order-ahead options are gaining so much ground in the consumer market. The whole point of online ordering for restaurants is convenience, but it’s hard to call an ordering channel “convenient” if it won’t let your customers order exactly when and how they want. Keep these issues in mind as you build out your online ordering tools.

  1. A meager 37% of restaurants offer online ordering

Barely over a third of companies offer online ordering, despite the well-documented consumer preference for quick and convenient options. We’re not sure what the disconnect is, but it represents a significant point of advantage for QSRs. Companies that work to make these convenient shopping options synonymous with their brands will earn the attention of the numerous buyers who prefer online channels.

5 Reasons Why Order Ahead for Restaurants is In Demand

5 Reasons Why Order Ahead for Restaurants is In Demand

5 Reasons Why Order Ahead for Restaurants is In Demand 5800 3866 PoppinPay

Order ahead for restaurants is revolutionizing the customer experience in the quick-service industry.

Our world is an on-the-go, have-it-now evolution of the supply and demand service culture. Consumers know what they want when they shop—from a tailored online destination to an adaptable mobile solution—and that creates an opportunity for savvy retailers and restaurateurs.

The modern customer experience demands innovative solutions from businesses that want to capture consumer interest and maintain customer loyalty. Fortunately, this challenge is one that order ahead for restaurants platforms understand well.

As a result, order ahead options and applications that help bridge the gap between consumers and businesses are thriving. Here’s why:

Millennials Are Ruining Everything

Millennials are ruining everything. It’s true. At least, that’s the media’s reaction whenever consumer trends show traditional industry taking a hit.

The benefit to millennials ruining everything is the opportunity presented by shifting customer preferences. Perceptive business owners know trends are never constant, and consumer habits tend to change. For quick-service restaurants, it was only a matter of time before the millennial generation (people born between 1981 and 1996) defined what customers wanted from the quick-service industry.

Today, mobile ordering, order ahead, and social media offers are how millennials tend to interact with QSRs.

Mobile Order Ahead is Modern

Mobile ordering is responsible for 60% of a restaurant’s digital orders, according to market research company The NDP Group, and mobile orders will represent for almost 11% of all QSR sales by 2020. The reality is simple: consumers prefer mobile options when it comes to interacting with brands and businesses. This is increasingly true for quick-service restaurants.

More restaurant chains and independent quick-service establishments are jumping on the mobile bandwagon. Traditional brick and mortar brands like Pizza Hut, Subway, McDonald’s, and countless others are investing in mobile ordering and loyalty program innovations. Things like branded mobile apps and social media discounts have replaced traditional punch cards and physical coupons, and customers are all for it.

This shift from analog to digital in the quick-service restaurant business paved the way for third-party and proprietary solutions to fine-tune the mobile experience. It’s easier than ever to offer a custom, intuitive, value-added customer service experience for consumers who want to order ahead at your restaurant.

Mobile Moves Money Easily

In 2017, U.S. Bank found that 47% of consumers surveyed preferred digital payment options over using cash. That was two years ago, and since then, mobile methods for moving money have gotten even more popular.

Mobile payment apps that dominate consumer and person-to-person transfers and transactions include:

  • Venmo
  • PayPal One Touch
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Square Cash
  • Zelle

Take mobile payment service Venmo as an example of mobile payment making waves. The company reported more than $21 billion in payments processed in the first quarter of 2019, outpacing most big banks. The writing is on the wall: people will use a mobile payment option when it’s available.

Pair that mobile payment mentality with order ahead restaurant functionality, and you’ve got an all-in-one quick-service solution that’s hard to ignore.

Order Sizes Increase with Order Ahead

Business News Daily cheekily attributes the increase in order size for order ahead customers to people feeling less guilty about what they order when there’s no one judging them at the counter. Business Insider avoids the judgment sentiment and instead hypes Taco Bell’s 30% average order increase through mobile and Starbuck’s 10% mobile share of total transactions in high-volume stores.

Order ahead for restaurants and mobile ordering apps are still in their early days, but (for whatever reason) signs point towards customers buying more when they order ahead. QSRs are recognizing the potential for increased sales and developing mobile order ahead options as a result.

Order Ahead and Mobile Offers Drive Repeat Business

Digital coupon cutting still incentivizes customers to order more, eat more, and pay less. This holds true when mobile and order ahead options enter the picture.

It’s easy for QSRs with reliable, intuitive order ahead and mobile platforms to offer customers discounts and track loyalty purchases. Analytics analysis also helps businesses better understand those customers in order to improve marketing efforts with data-driven decisions. All of this comes together to fuel the cycle of customer retention and repeat business.

Forbes reported that Starbucks’ mobile pay and ordering were big contributors in the first even in the first quarter of 2017, with mobile pay alone being responsible for 27% of all U.S. company-operated transactions. Customers are more likely to utilize a discount offer earned after a previous purchase, easily applied through a mobile app, if it means saving money without extra effort.

Order Ahead is On Demand for Good Reason

Not only is order ahead for restaurants a no-brainer from the consumer’s point of view, but the ability for QSRs to easily implement mobile order ahead options can be a game-changer for how you do business.

Mobile order ahead is disrupting the QSR industry. Restaurants can track and utilize consumer trends and also capture and retain customer loyalty, and customers can order how they want when they want. Plus, you don’t have to have an internal marketing department and a software development team for your restaurant to jump on the order ahead bandwagon.

Platforms like PoppinPay help make branding a web and mobile order ahead app a piece of cake. Contact our team of industry experts to get started and roll out your mobile order ahead solution today!