What's Your Curbside Payment Strategy?: Five Insider Suggestions

By Thom Richardson, Operator, Carey Hilliard's | August 26, 2008

In the hospitality industry, we're often looking for the next big thing, anything to make customers happier, servers more efficient and bottom-lines more profitable. And for any restaurant operator whose establishment features curbside carry-out lanes, payment security and efficiency are key factors needed to secure customer and server satisfaction.

A problem faced by many
The carry-out lanes here at Carey Hilliard's, as with many restaurants, can get very hectic on a busy night. Sometimes involving up to 25 cars at once, we decided that it was time to search for a new curbside service solution. We turned to VeriFone for its ON THE SPOT solution for payment at the point-of-service for our busy curbside service.

Servers wear this compact, wireless device on their hips as they deliver orders to waiting customers. Customers then swipe their own cards in their cars to pay for their meals, cutting the number of steps needed to close out checks. It speeds up the entire payment process, freeing up server time and increasing table turns - in this case, it increases car turns.

Five tips to know
This solution has been validated many times over at Carey Hilliard's but there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration for the seamless integration of any curbside payment solution.

  1. The first factor is to make sure that your point-of-sale system is compatible with the devices you choose. We found that our MICROS systems provide an almost flawless marriage with the VeriFone Vx670 CarsidePAY devices.
  2. Find an IT technician who understands the setup, installation and operation of the wireless devices. The expertise of this person is invaluable. We brought in a local group of technicians to work with us on every step of the CarsidePAY installation process.
  3. Find a good Internet provider with serial wireless connections to handle long distances from the Internet base. For our four locations, 3com was able to provide the serial links which allow our devices to operate almost 100 feet from the Internet base.
  4. After you have found the devices, technicians and Internet provider you want to work with, and you're just about ready to go, do not overlook the important step of introducing your employees to their new payment technology. You must educate servers and staff on how to present this new technology to unsuspecting customers. We saw that customers were initially surprised by our ability to close out credit cards at their cars without having to go back into the restaurant. But after some time, customers came to expect them much like the PIN-pads used at retailers and grocery stores.
  5. Finally, order enough equipment for backup. Even though devices are highly dependable, your staff may not always be so reliable. Employees will drop machines, lose batteries, and on occasion, take a device home, so be prepared to temporarily replace devices to compensate for employee oversights.

The realized benefits
After these few considerations, you will quickly realize the many benefits of carside payment, as we did. Credit and debit card mistakes and overcharges will be dramatically reduced. At Carey Hilliard's, CarsidePAY has removed the "employee factor" of mistakes such as "fat-fingering" accidentally overcharging tips and applying a charge to the wrong guest check. Most importantly, it will allow for the recovery of lost revenues that occurred when an employee accidentally closes out a check to cash rather than using the credit card which had been authorized but not closed out.

But one of the real benefits of carside payment is the level of comfort and service it provides to the customer. The security of a card never leaving the customer's sight and the speed of service provided to a patron bringing dinner home to the family is the reason for going through the wireless technology installation process.

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