It is hard to fully staff a restaurant, café, diner, or other eatery these days. Everyone is trying to hire, but there aren’t a lot of takers. That means you’re probably working with a skeleton crew – and doing a lot of the work yourself – so answering the phone may not be a reality for you at the moment. Of course, you can’t just ignore all those calls, so you decide to get an automated self-serve menu for your business phone.

Now that you’ve taken the plunge and made sure your phone is ready to handle the bulk of your call volume so you can get back to business, you’re saving time and money by not devoting so much of your staff – and yourself – to the phone. But are you really taking advantage of the system’s features?

1. Placing Orders

People are hungry, and for a number of reasons, at any given moment they don’t have the time, talent, equipment, or inclination to make meals for themselves. They’d like to order, but when peak times hit, you’ve not only got a line out your door, your phone is also ringing and there’s no one left to answer it. The best solution is to offer ordering online.

Of course, people get used to calling in to place orders, so the best way to deflect those common calls is to offer to send them a text message with an online ordering link. Most people have their smart phone in hand, so it’s easy for everyone involved, and it gets them right back to where you want them – placing an order! Automation can easily trigger a text message when they select the corresponding number from your phone menu.

2. Location and/or Directions

Anyone who is in town for a visit or just hasn’t yet been to your restaurant needs to know how to get there, and often they don’t want to risk getting lost. Let them select an option in your self-serve menu to send them a text message so they can get directions right to their phone.

3. Store Hours

Do you serve breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Midnight snacks? People are inevitably going to wonder when they can order and when they can eat (the two are not always mutually exclusive). Let them know right away by allowing them to press 3 to hear your store hours from your automated menu. Do be sure to always keep this up-to-date, as your hours may change depending on the day of the week and if there are any holidays occurring.

4. Reservations

Like online ordering, you may need to allow people to create and set reservations online. It’s fast and easy. As many will still try to call first, send them a link, just the way you would with those online orders. They can happily make a reservation on their phone without slowing down for human interaction that may put them on hold if there are not enough people readily available to answer the phone.

5. Menu Options

Do you offer vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free options? Do you serve allergen-free products? These are things that people want to know with increasing regularity. If your servers notice that people ask this kind of question a lot, you may want to add an option to your menu about special dietary options and list them on the phone so people can know right away.

6. Promotions

Let your calling customers know you appreciate them with the option to receive a discount for ordering online. Everyone wins! You get their order without hassle, and they feel like they got a great deal. They’ll keep coming back.

This is extremely simple with Reachify’s automated phone system; let them select the phone option for a text promotion, and then automatically trigger a text message that includes your promotion, such as “Save 10% on your online order with discount code DISCOUNT.”

7. Text Message for Missed Calls

If you’ve ported your number to Reachify, our technology allows you the ability to immediately send an automatic text message every time you miss a call with a link or an offer to help. It allows people to feel like they have been acknowledged and you still want to communicate with them, even though you may personally be too occupied at the moment. This increases customer retention.

8. Accessibility

Can you accommodate a wheelchair? Large groups for party reservations? These are questions that people may have for you, and if it’s difficult for them to find out this information, they may give up and go elsewhere. No one likes a hassle being made over their disabilities or problems when all they wanted was food, so it’s important to let them know this information quickly and easily. Of course, you may still have to field some of these questions yourself (as everyone’s needs are unique), so be sure to leave the option for them to speak to an actual person if they think their question wasn’t fully answered by your phone automation.

9. Partnerships with Grubhub, DoorDash, etc.

Do you deliver? Do you have partnerships with delivery services? As many people have largely confined themselves to their homes during the pandemic, delivery is more important than ever. You need to make sure people are aware upfront if they can easily get these services as it can make or break the sale.

10. Other Commonly Asked Questions

Do you sell gift certificates? Do you support fundraisers? Make a list of the questions you or your hosts are asked routinely throughout the week, and be sure to answer as many of them as you can in your automated phone system, which will reduce your workload greatly and has the added bonus of answering questions for callers they may not even know they had yet.

There will always be some calls you or your staff need to handle, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, many questions can be answered quickly by an automated phone system, freeing up you and your staff to work on other important tasks, and getting your callers where they need to go without lengthy hold or missed call delays. Phone automation, together with call deflection and the ability to send text messages, is key to keeping your restaurant running smoothly and efficiently in 2021 and beyond!