The pandemic brought on many changes for the restaurant industry. Some of those changes will fade away as we return to a sense of normal operations, but some are here to stay, and QR codes are definitely in the stay category.
QR (quick response) codes are scannable, barcode-like boxes that take users to a specific target, like a website or a web-based document (like your menu, for example). They have surged in popularity over the past two years as restaurants sought solutions for contact-free ordering and payment to limit personal interactions during the pandemic, but there is more potential to uncover, especially when it comes to marketing businesses and driving sales. Here are a few ideas for using QR codes.
In-House Ordering and Payment
What was at first a product of necessity is now a practical solution to help reduce the strain on your FOH team. With the labor issues, most dining rooms are feeling the impact of being down one or two team members and allowing guests to order and pay from their seats is a great way to keep everyone happy. What customer wouldn’t want the option to pay the check whenever they’re ready instead of waiting on a server to come around with the check?
QR codes can quickly and easily point guests toward daily specials so they don’t have to remember what the server told them verbally. Additionally, ordering via QR code has been proven to increase the ticket average per customer: Figures show that the average order value can increase by 30% with QR codes because guests can take their time and order without pressure or judgment. Post a QR code that directs customers to your menu on the window or door of the restaurant for folks who are considering stepping inside.
Takeout and Delivery
Adding a QR code to marketing materials, direct mail, and signage can allow customers to jump right to your online ordering platform, reducing the number of steps between them and their next meal. This level of convenience is something that consumers are beginning to appreciate and expect. You can also point customers toward daily specials or popular items, allowing the QR code to act as a kind of proxy ‘server,’ for guests, guiding their experience just as your FOH staff would.
Restaurants know exactly how valuable listening to guest feedback is and using a QR code can make it easier than ever to solicit and collect feedback from guests. A QR code on a check or receipt will take guests right to online review platforms or to an online survey. This will help future guests make the decision to eat in your restaurant, as online reviews are a big factor in that decision for many.
If you run a restaurant, you know that guests and potential guests tend to ask the same half dozen questions every day: What is your Wi-Fi password, where are you located, what are your hours, can I bring my dog, do you offer catering? Establishing a QR code that takes guests right to a landing page answering all of these questions is a great way to share information without adding to the stress on your employees. And it has the added benefit of allowing you to create thoughtful, helpful answers that are consistent every time.
The first part of the catering discussion with a new customer is very repetitive. You’re both asking the same questions every time. QR codes can provide a simple way for collecting this information before moving on to the more hands-on aspects of the catering order. They can show guests exactly what’s possible while determining their specific needs.
Some guests really appreciate understanding the nuances behind each dish — where the ingredients come from (including links to farms and producers), how they’re made, and the allergen and nutritional information. QR codes can make this possible while also providing photographs of dishes so that guests know exactly what to expect.
An additional benefit here is that members of the press who are researching your restaurant for media inclusion can find answers to their questions that you have created. This is hugely helpful for writers (like me!) who do the majority of their research online before reaching out directly with interview questions. Consider adding the pertinent information as well as behind-the-scenes videos with chefs to share your commitment to quality with guests and press.