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Mobile Devices Leaving an Unsavory Taste in Restaurant Owner’s Mouth

Smartphones have revolutionized the way that we communicate with each other and increased productivity, but for some businesses, they are only making things worse. A perfect example of this is the restaurant business – in fact, one restaurant owner decided to take matters into his own hands, and has performed a study which examined their

b2ap3_thumbnail_problems_for_smartphones_restaurant_400Smartphones have revolutionized the way that we communicate with each other and increased productivity, but for some businesses, they are only making things worse. A perfect example of this is the restaurant business – in fact, one restaurant owner decided to take matters into his own hands, and has performed a study which examined their business before and after the mobile revolution.

The eye-opening moment for this New York City restaurant was when they noticed that there was an increasing amount of negative online reviews, most of them targeting them for slow service. The most confusing part of the whole situation was that the restaurant hadn’t experienced any complaints in the past, and there wasn’t anything being done differently to warrant such a decrease in service time. Therefore, they felt they had an obligation to investigate the problem.

At first, the restaurant was convinced that it was their fault. They began by investigating the waiting staff, food quality, and other imperative restaurant functions. When this type of study failed to yield any promising results, they compared surveillance footage from this year to that of 2004, before the mobile device boom. The shocking revelation came when they noticed that their customers had developed new, time-consuming habits over the past ten years – all thanks to everyone’s favorite mobile device, the smartphone.

Like every self-respecting business owner seeking council with the professional community, the restaurant owner anonymously posted the findings on Craigslist in hopes of convincing the smartphone community that they should be more considerate when out in public with their phones (you know, because Craigslist is the best place to post one’s gripes).

The owner posted the findings side-by-side for both 2004 and 2014, and the difference was astonishing. In 2004, guests could expect to be seated promptly, place their order, eat their food, and pay without incident. The total average time per customer in 2004 wasone hour and five minutes.

Things were going pretty well… until the mobile device trend started. Customers would bring their smartphones into the restaurant with them, forever changing the dining experience, for the worse. Here are some observations from the restaurant owner’s surveillance footage:

  • Customers walk in.
  • Customers get seated and [are] given menus. Out of 45 customers 18 requested to be seated elsewhere.
  • Before even opening the menu they take their phones out. Some are taking photos while others are simply doing something else on their phone (Sorry. We have no clue what they are doing and do not monitor customer WiFi activity).
  • Finally, the waiters are walking over to the table to see what the customers would like to order. The majority have not even opened the menu and ask the waiter to wait a bit.
  • Customers open the menu, place their hands holding their phones on top of it, and continue to do whatever on their phone.
  • Waiter returns to see if they are ready to order or have any questions. The customer asks for more time.
  • Finally, they are ready to order.
  • Total average time from when the customers were seated until they placed their orders: 21 minutes. [Compared to eight minutes in 2004]
  • Food starts getting delivered within six minutes. Obviously the more complex items take way longer.
  • 26 out of 45 customers spend an average of three minutes taking photos of the food.
  • 14 out of 45 customers take pictures of each other with the food in front of them or as they are eating the food. This takes on average another four minutes as they must review and sometimes retake the photo.
  • Nine out of 45 customers sent their food back to reheat. Obviously, if they didn’t pause to do whatever on their phone the food wouldn’t have gotten cold.
  • 27 out of 45 customers asked their waiter to take a group photo. 14 of those requested the waiter retake the photo as they were not pleased with the first photo. On average, this entire process between the chit chatting and reviewing the photo taken added another five minutes and obviously caused the waiter not to be able to take care of other tables he/she was serving.
  • Given in most cases the customers are constantly busy on their phones it took an average of 20 minutes more from when they were done eating until they requested a check. Furthermore once the check was delivered it took 15 minutes longer than 10 years ago for them to pay and leave.
  • Eight out of 45 customers bumped into other customers, or in one case a waiter (texting while walking) as they were either walking in or out of the restaurant.

The average restaurant experience in 2014 took one hour and fifty-five minutes, nearly double the amount of time it took in 2004.

The restaurant obviously found this quite disturbing, but as a business owner, one of the top priorities you can have is to adapt to the environment in which your business is operating. However, in this case, it can be difficult to adapt, as a restaurant owner lacks physical space and resources. Furthermore, it can be challenging to accommodate these new trends, as they may require raising prices or expensive renovation expenses.

Other restaurants who aren’t concerned about this trend have found ways to adapt. Some see their dishes on Twitter or Instagram and smile, knowing it’s a method of free advertising, and some might even flock to social media knowing the advantages it can provide for their business. This kind of adjustment is far easier for a startup, as they don’t have established practices to adjust, thanks to the advent of the smartphone.

In this sense, smartphones are certainly decreasing the amount of communication, and even hampering the ability for those around us to do their work. This begs the question, “are my employees using mobile devices to the best of their ability?” Perhaps they aren’t using the devices to get more done in the workday, and instead are using devices to distract themselves from work with social media and texting.

PACE Technical Services offers several enterprise-level methods of tracking how employees use their mobile devices, and we can block time-wasting websites to increase productivity. Even a simple solution like content filtering can significantly increase your profit margin by up to 25 percent. You might even be able to afford a few extra company lunches (but no food selfies, please).

If you’re looking for a way to increase productivity and boost profits, keep PACE Technical Services in mind. Give us a call at 905.763.7896 to see how content filtering can give your business a little extra kick.

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