Once you’ve gotten your restaurant off the ground and running, you need to think about some logistics. The phone is essential, even though we don’t love it. It interrupts us and is a constant distraction, taking us away from what we’d like to be doing. However, it is one of the main points of contact we have with our customers, so it is a necessary evil. You’ve already got a phone. Is it sufficient for your restaurant? Does it do everything it needs to? Is it over the top?
In a small restaurant, you don’t need to be able to use an intercom to contact other departments; you can probably do that by raising your voice slightly and calling over the counter. You likely don’t need 6 lines. So what do you need? Here are 5 steps to make an informed decision about your restaurant phone system.
Keep it simple.
Essentially, you need a simple system that lets you answer questions, take orders, and communicate with your customers and suppliers. A large restaurant needs the ability to transfer calls to different departments and extensions, but you’re probably fine with a regular business phone. Research options with as many features as you need without having so many options it will confuse your employees.
Examine your audience.
If the people calling your restaurant are all trying to make reservations, you may handle the phone differently than if most of the callers are suppliers wondering where to drop something off. Make a note of the things that are most often asked in your phone conversations so you can be ready to address those questions and concerns immediately.
Think about when the calls are coming in.
If your phone is ringing mostly while you’re cooking, or, worse, out serving people in the restaurant, you may need to find an alternate solution. A phone that supports a hands-free device might become necessary in the event that you don’t have any time to stop what you’re doing and go to the desk. If the calls are mostly coming while you’re wiping down tables in the evening after closing, it might not be necessary at all to get extra features like that.
If you’ve gone through the first three points and seen that most people are asking the same questions during your peak times, perhaps it’s a good idea to turn the phone over to an automated self-serve system. That way, those questions can still be answered quickly and efficiently, and you’ll never have to stop what you’re doing for it to happen. Your customers can still receive positive interaction, and you can continue focusing on the food and people already in front of you. Reachify’s phone system offers automation, text-enabling your current business number, self-serve menus, call deflection and more.
How much is too much?
Getting texting features for your restaurant sounds really great at first, but if your customers are texting you all the time, it can be just as much of a hassle as answering the phone. Sending automated text messages from an unmonitored account may be the best way to free you up and still contact your customers where you’re most likely to reach them. Chat options on your website will often create a similar demand on your time. Automations should be there to help, not hinder, your restaurant. Be sure to make sure you have the resources necessary to address whatever technological features you’ve added to your phone and website before you do it, or you may feel worse off in the long run.
If you do have a larger business, you may want to consider a more robust system. A VoIP system can handle mostly anything you might need, and if you want a dedicated landline, you’ll want to look into a PBX or KSU system. Both need to be professionally installed and serviced. PBX (which stands for private branch exchange) systems are most suited for franchises with multiple locations and a lot of lines. KSU (key service unit) systems are best for businesses who need multiple lines but only have one location. Reachify also offers phones with provisioning included.
Find out how Reachify can help your small restaurant achieve success through business phone automation by contacting us here.