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In 2020, as bars and restaurants started to welcome back their guests, owner-operators had to balance adding new COVID precautions, dealing with the changing costs of goods, and finding enough labor force to run their establishment. Our industry is full of resilient, passionate people who fought to maintain their dream. While we will miss those establishments that we lost during this time, those who survived, and those yet to come, will benefit from the tools, resources, and new revenue streams created during this time.

In an effort to reduce guest shared touch-points, our industry began to offer guests a way to view the menu on their phones. While some will see this as a temporary necessity until this pandemic comes to an end, those who embrace it will benefit greatly from this new and versatile tool. Here are a few ways to get the most out of your digital menus.

You can update your menu often, from anywhere.

With a digital menu, you can change your menu whenever you need to. As prices fluctuate, or inventory becomes unavailable, you have the ability to adjust quickly. If an item isn't selling, you can take it off the menu instead of letting inventory go bad. If you need to make a change in the middle of the shift, on your night off, you can do so quickly from your home computer and every menu will be updated instantly.

Guests can sign up for upcoming events and information right from the menu.

With a digital menu, you can advertise upcoming events and provide guests the ability to make a reservation if needed. Place your message/sign-up link at the top of the menu or in between your apps and entrees. This allows you to grab the attention of your guests while you have them in-house.

Provide menus based on allergy and dietary restrictions.

Providing a link to menus that only show the items your guest can eat based on their allergies or dietary restrictions will make your guest's dining experience better and remove the risk of your staff not knowing what their options will be. Being able to quickly filter only those dishes that are paleo-friendly, or remove all items that contain tree nuts is an incredible benefit to your guests. They will keep coming back.

Provide more information about a dish, local farmer, or winery.

Digital menus can contain a nearly limitless amount of pages. You can use that to your advantage. You can provide your guests with a deeper narrative about your establishment and what you serve. You could link directly to a local farmer's site, or explain more about their farming techniques right from the menu item. If you have an extensive wine list, you can place more extensive tasting notes or describe the difference between vintages. Provide a way for your guests to become more engaged with you and your establishment by utilizing this technique.

Schedule when menus are available to be viewed.

Your digital menu can be the same menu for multiple parts of the day. If a guest scans your menu at lunchtime, direct them to the lunch menu. If they scan the same menu at dinner time, direct them to the dinner menu. At the restaurant I worked at last, we had 85 menus for breakfast, 85 for lunch, and 85 for dinner. With a digital menu, you only need one per table.

Offer table-side ordering with services like Bbot.

This may not be a benefit to all who adopt a digital menu, but for those establishments where it makes sense, you can allow your guests to place their order right from their phone. Services such as Bbot can provide your guests with the ability to order on their phones and have it brought out to their table. With Bbot, you can simply scan or tap your phone to your Touchless Menu and immediately be linked to your tables order platform. Mobile payments through Bbot allow for your guests to pay when they order, and leave when they want to (without leaving their credit card behind.). This will also allow you to require less labor as you will only need your servers to run your food and beverages out to the guests.

Place digital menus in offices for lunchtime ordering.

For restaurants that serve lunch in an urban area, or near multiple office buildings, you could place your Touchless Menu in neighboring businesses' break room (with their permission) giving their employees an easy way to order lunch to go from you. You can provide your contact information on your digital menu, or link your Touchless Menu to a delivery service. Whichever way you decide to go, you will have your business at the forefront of many potential guests.

The above are only some of the many ways you can get more out of your digital menus. As this technology and concept continue to evolve, more benefits and features will come with it. Make the transition now and take advantage of the many benefits that digital menus provide.

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