The Post, a sports bar in St. Louis, Missouri serving bar and grill fare, faced a problem that is felt by many restaurants with an active bar scene: slow patron check-out. A popular place to watch sports, every table tends to leave in unison at the end of a game, resulting in long waits as the wait staff settles dozens of tabs at once. Management wanted a solution to help alleviate these long waits, while simultaneously enhancing the guest experience, driving more revenue, and improving wait staff efficiency. What’s more the solution had to incorporate the restaurant’s many promotional programs.
In August 2010, The Post began working with eTab to become the beta site for the eTab self-service ordering and payment system. eTab offered the benefits The Post was seeking, such as operational efficiency and integration into their Micros point-of-sale (POS) system. Installation and training of the kitchen, bar and wait staff was completed in October 2010, and the system was tested and refined for two months. A fully functional system has now been in operation since January 2011.
Converting to digital
eTab worked with The Post to digitize their menu, including descriptions of each item offered, pricing, food/beverage photography and promotions. The Post’s entire menu and pre-existing POS system were programmed into an eTab proxy server located on-site. eTab installed a secure wireless network, which transmitted all orders placed by the patron on eTab’s table top ordering device to the proxy server and POS, creating an electronic, interactive menu.
eTab provided Menu Builder software tools to The Post, which allows management to instantly add, delete or change any menu element. In addition, eTab’s Promo Builder module allows management to automatically display promotions and specials on every tabletop device at the appropriate times and price points, ensuring timely execution and measurement, while also eliminating the high printing costs and logistical challenge of executing these programs.
eTab in Action
When a patron places an order on an eTab device, the kitchen and bar are notified through the current POS system in the traditional ordering language, ensuring smooth operations. In addition, the server is notified through their small handheld device, which identifies the table, the order and the elapsed time since the order was placed. This method has reduced operational delays and expedited table service since servers instantly knew the status of their tables. The patron device is simple for patrons to use, allowing them to customize their food and drinks upon ordering, and to page their servers with any requests.
Patrons check out at their convenience, using eTab to split the bill (if needed), calculate the tip, and then pay using this PCI-compliant device’s secure credit card swipe. If patrons wish to pay in cash, they can summon the server to the table through the server paging feature on their device. Receipts can be delivered via e-mail—allowing The Post the opportunity to capture e-mail addresses and enter patrons into their social media programs—or printed out in the traditional manner from the POS system and delivered by the server.
Enhanced revenue, operations and patron satisfaction
The Post’s servers were initially apprehensive, worrying that the technology would reduce their patron interaction and decrease tips. However, they quickly learned that eTab’s ability to empower the patron and enhance operational efficiency improved service quality, resulting in a two percentage point increase in tips (from 16 to 18 percent). Patrons using eTab consistently received their first drinks faster, re-ordered drinks at a greater rate and ordered more food items. This dynamic drove an impressive 10 percent increase in revenue per table.
eTab provides patrons the ability to control the pace of their meal from start to finish, increasing satisfaction with their dining experience. Patrons consistently report significant improvements in service speed and accuracy, and high satisfaction with their ability to pay and leave when desired. The new payment dynamic is especially valuable given the many sporting events watched at The Post.