Help! I need your opinion on this idea.

Junior Burger
2013/11/05 15:45:25
Hello everybody, 
Feel free to call me D. :-) I'm a first time poster so be easy on me.
A lot has changed in the restaurant industry, but one thing that hasn't changed is the way we order our food. I can't figure out why I need a server/waiter to take my order back to the kitchen for me. What if I could do that on my own (not walk back into the kitchen, but order my food on my own)? If the menu is in my possession, why can't I just touch the menu items I want and have them sent straight back to the kitchen? 
For counter service, why can't I choose the items I want and place them into the computer? What if the cashier wasn't tied to this instruction? What if he or she was free to be more of a greeter? I bet I'd have more of a satisfying restaurant experience. 
I want to put the POS system into the hands of the customer. I want to build an interface that's intuitive, visually attractive, and quick to transact. I want to make it so the customer can pay with cash or card without the need for a cashier. 
I'd like your input on this idea. Does this sounds like something worth pursuing or does it come across as hogwash? Please tell me your opinion of what a great POS system should include. Constructive criticism is appreciated and I'll be sure to give credit where credit is due. 
Thanks in advance for the comments. 
post edited by bluefire2121 - 2013/11/05 15:56:36
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/05 16:41:45
three things;
most people enjoy and look for the interaction of a waitstaff. 
most people would be lost and confused by this system, your greeter would be spending their time explaining and describing every item on the menu. 
it would be a cold and uncaring environment. 
just my silly opinion.
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/05 19:33:15
Noodles & Co is on-line...  We go in (or stay home) and place our order online either way...  add this, remove that, add chicken, etc.  Pay on-line too...  And no tips required...  It works...  And we interact with the staff as well, as the kitchen is only semi-hidden...  It's the future...
There are others... Having said that, my daughter is a waiter at Red Robin, and I'm glad she still has her job to get her through Grad School...
post edited by tbone654 - 2013/11/05 19:35:31
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/05 19:49:49
Maybe 20  or 30 years from now you can expect a customer base that wouldn't include old cranks giving you  yada yada about technology in general & overall specific misery about refusing to use it.
If you doubt that...take a cruise around Roadfood a few times.
post edited by CCinNJ - 2013/11/05 19:55:31
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/06 10:08:46
A few random thoughts:
--  Even though we are well along The Road to Serfdom, destination Soylent Green, today's explosion in information technology wherein the 'self-appointed gatekeepers' are removed gives me hope.  So, I applaud your efforts.
--  Your basic concept is hardly new; cafeterias and automats were 'old school' attempts at it.  In fact, the ultra high tech versions of the automat are a huge success in, e.g., Tokyo.
--  Differentiation is necessary to success in the restaurant business.  Phil Romano is a legendary success in such endeavors; presently, he and some fellow entrepreneurs are engaged in a 'restaurant incubator' project here in Dallas.  Contact the gentlemen mentioned in that article and share your resume and your vision.  Good luck. 
Edit:  Here is the link to their Trinity Groves restaurant incubator project.  Click on this to submit an idea or, if your concept is more fully developed, click on this
post edited by MetroplexJim - 2013/11/06 10:39:37
Junior Burger
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/06 11:35:32
Thanks for all of the comments. Again the construction criticism is appreciated. I understand that no idea is originally. Is anyone familiar with E La Carte, Ziosk or iMenu? :-) They helped plant the seed for the idea I have now. I went to a roadside restaurant when I was traveling in Orlando, FL and they had a tablet you could order from on the table. My server that night became much more of an entertainer. She told jokes and talked our table up and I felt "wow" this person is really working hard for my tip. I loved it. When the technology does the boring work, it let's people be people. :-) The experience I had that night was amazing.
The issue I found with most of these devices is that, although they can take orders....that's pretty much all they can do. Now what if that device helped me leave a review on yelp, google, or urbanspoon? The review would be optional, but if one leaves a review (of any kind) he or she could receive a discount on their next visit. What if the device could suggest a tip to be given based on the review that's left. I'm just throwing out examples here, but let's say you leave a 5 out of 5 star review, the device could suggest a tip of 30% (which in my book is exceptional service). If it's 3 out of 5, it could suggest an average tip 15% and so on and so on. Again this would all be optional as the customer would have the right to leave his or her own tip or no tip at all.
For some reason, people love taking pictures of food with Instagram. I don't know why, but it happens. The device could allow customers to upload their photo of their dish. Others could vote on the photos and the highest voted photo would be used as the photo to represent that item on the menu. Let's be honest. The items that we see in those menu pictures don't always represent what you'll receive. :-)
All of this stuff is nice, but how do restaurant owners make money from this? Ideas like these are a waste of time unless there's some sort of tangible return on the investment. Well the money comes from the analytics. That's the secret sauce. This new POS system would constantly collect data and it would turn that data into useful information. Let's say your establishment is located directly in the path to a sports stadium. On game nights your place is full of people. The system would correlate game day activities with higher sales. It could suggest to the owner a price raise of 2% on the most popular items for game days. Maybe there's someone who stocks up on ice cream ingredients, but sells very little ice cream in November and December. The system could correlate the low sell of ice cream with cold temperatures. It could then suggest not buying ice cream ingredients when there is a forecast of very cold weather an extended time or it could suggest a lower price on the ice cream.
As a customer, I could use the analytics so I wouldn't have to remember what I ordered last time. I hate that. There are restaurants where I visit once every 4-5 months. I can never remember what I liked and what I didn't like on my previous visit. I would love to be able to look up the last meal I ordered from those establishments. Based on food that I like, I'd want it to suggest new things for me to try. "Hi D, based on your previous purchases, I can tell you enjoy seafood so how about trying Establishment XYZ's Super Salmon." For those who enjoy eating gluten free dishes, it could automatically remove every dish from the menu that contains gluten. It would make the ordering process personal and simplify it for those with dietary constraints.
I'm definitely going to take the feedback that hpx, tbone, CCinNJ (sometimes old habits are hard to change), and MetroplexJim left me and will continue to shape the idea. I'll also follow up on any links or external resources you all suggested. If you come up with other ideas, thoughts, feedback, or criticism, I'll continue to listen and incorporate them. Thanks again!
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/06 12:22:00
Clearly, you have refined your thoughts about this.  Again, I urge you to make a pitch to Phil Romano.  And it doesn't have to be a 'restaurant concept' per se.  As always, he is looking for "good ideas". 
One of the things Romano is 'famous for' is, years ago, taking a pitch from some Texas cardiologists who were dining at one of his restaurants.  Romanno liked their ideas so much he give them $250,000 in 'angel money' to develop their idea. 
As a result, the heart stent was developed. 
Both Romano and the cardiologists made millions of dollars - and millions of lives have been extended and enriched as a result. 
That's the way the free market has always worked.  As Adam Smith pointed out 227 years ago:  the entrepreneur earns his return by undertaking risk. 
Romano understands this far better than most and is always looking for ideas.
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/06 12:28:16
You have to have some good fastballs and/or blessed with some stellar God-given curves (thank ya Jesus!) when you plan to pitch ideas for business.

You can have the best product or service available and much of it will always come down motivating a audience...that are often creatures of habit.
post edited by CCinNJ - 2013/11/06 12:34:30
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/06 12:42:00
If I remember correctly, Val's Hamburgers in St. Cloud MN. has a pos system the customer uses
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/06 12:50:06
As you are in Phoenix, why don't you try to pitch these folks. 
I think they could use your help!
(After two serious posts I had to inject a little humor!)
Viewer warning, some profanity is contained herein

Junior Burger
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/06 16:41:32
@MetroplexJim - That baking commercial is hilarious. What's funny is that there are a lot of Scottsdale restaurants like that bakery. There are a few that will make you say..."uhh did the Kardashians and the cast of the Jersey Shore decide to go into business together?" On a side note, it's wonderful to see that some ideas can transcend the business to really have an impact on lives (ex. those coronary heart stents). I'm going follow up with Phil. 
@KurtSara - I ran into a Val's in California, but didn't see anything unusual. All of this time I thought it was a local restaurant. They have one out in Minnesota too? 
@CCinNJ - Hmm I wonder where I can get some hips. I can always sell out and get booth babes 
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/06 17:20:51
D - I forgot my manners:  Welcome to Roadfood!!!
FYI:  Amy's Bakery of Scottsdale became '(in)famous' on a highly memorable episode of one of Gordon Ramsey's shows.  It is truly a slow-motion train wreck and even Ramsey is reduced to speechlessness, showing his true, decent self.  Enjoy!

Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/06 22:49:38
I can see this from several points of view
#1 - I guess call me old school, I like the interface with a real human.  I can pick their brain and ask them what they like on the menu.  You cant ask HAL what his favorite dish is.  From this stand point I like being greeted and seated personally, I like talking to a human when ordering and interacting with them.
#2 - so every snotty nosed kid, cold infested hasnt washed their hands in days adult, and everyone in between is going to touch this thing, and now you want me to touch it too and then eat with my hands??
#3 - Would depend on the type of B&M you are going for. 
Fast and slick, where technology is more on display than the food.
Slow and Relaxed where mom and da and the family can sit and relax while dining andenjoy interaction that doesnt come by computer interface.
Just my $0.02
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/06 23:15:21
Depends on the level of dining you're targeting.
Fast food and counter service - possibly.
Sit down and finer dining - No Way.
Re:Help! I need your opinion on this idea. 2013/11/09 20:01:46
Me, I like it