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Restaurant Experiences Major Losses Due to Foodies Instagramming Every Dish

b2ap3_thumbnail_smartphones_hurting_some_restaurants_400.jpgThe point of all these cool smartphones is to make life easier, improve productivity, and communication, but how sure are you that these devices are making things better? One restaurant did a study where they looked at their business both before and after the smartphone revolution. Their findings may make you lose your appetite for mobile technology.

A restaurant in New York City was prompted to make such a study when they noticed an increasing amount of negative online reviews in regards to slow service. These bad reviews confused the restaurant owners because they've been around for many years and didn't experience complaints like this in the past, and they weren't doing anything different to slow down service.

Like any responsible business owner, they objectively investigated the problem. In fact, going into the study, the restaurant, assuming that they were at fault, first looked at the performance of their wait staff, the quality of the food, you know, typical restauranty things like that. Their methodology was to compare surveillance footage from this year to surveillance footage from 2004 when their establishment was getting better reviews. It turned out that, over the course of ten years, patrons had developed new and time-consuming habits thanks to the introduction of the smartphone.

Upon discovering that smartphones were to blame, the restaurant owner took to Craigslist and anonymously posted their findings in the hopes of persuading technology users to "be more considerate." In the post, the owner compared side-by-side their findings from 2004 and 2014. The footage from 2004 revealed a very typical and even flawless restaurant experience where patrons were seated, ordered their meal, ate it, and paid without much issue. The average time from start to finish for customers in 2004 was one hour and five minutes. Not bad.

Then customers started bringing their smartphones to dinner and the entire restaurant experience changed. Here's what the restaurant owner observed and posted from the footage:

  • Customers walk in.
  • Customers get seated and [are] given menus. Out of 45 customers, 18 requested to be seated elsewhere.
  • Before even opening the menu they take their phones out. Some are taking photos while others are simply doing something else on their phone (Sorry. We have no clue what they are doing and do not monitor customer WiFi activity).
  • Finally, the waiters are walking over to the table to see what the customers would like to order. The majority have not even opened the menu and ask the waiter to wait a bit.
  • Customers open the menu, place their hands holding their phones on top of it, and continue to do whatever on their phone.
  • Waiter returns to see if they are ready to order or have any questions. The customer asks for more time.
  • Finally, they are ready to order.
  • Total average time from when the customers were seated until they placed their orders: 21 minutes. [Compared to eight minutes in 2004]
  • Food starts getting delivered within six minutes. Obviously the more complex items take way longer.
  • 26 out of 45 customers spend an average of three minutes taking photos of the food.
  • 14 out of 45 customers take pictures of each other with the food in front of them or as they are eating the food. This takes on average another four minutes as they must review and sometimes retake the photo.
  • Nine out of 45 customers sent their food back to reheat. Obviously, if they didn't pause to do whatever on their phone the food wouldn't have gotten cold.
  • 27 out of 45 customers asked their waiter to take a group photo. 14 of those requested the waiter retake the photo as they were not pleased with the first photo. On average, this entire process between the chit chatting and reviewing the photo taken added another five minutes and obviously caused the waiter not to be able to take care of other tables he/she was serving.
  • Given in most cases the customers are constantly busy on their phones it took an average of 20 minutes more from when they were done eating until they requested a check. Furthermore once the check was delivered it took 15 minutes longer than 10 years ago for them to pay and leave.
  • Eight out of 45 customers bumped into other customers, or in one case a waiter (texting while walking) as they were either walking in or out of the restaurant.

Add all that up and you're looking at a total time of one hour and fifty five minutes; almost double that of 2004.

As business owners, we're supposed to adapt to the times and change the way we do things in order to account for trends, but in an example like this, adjusting a business model to meet the profit expectations of ten years ago is difficult due to limited space and resources. A restaurant owner in this situation can feel trapped if accommodating these new trends requires something extreme like, expanding the floor plan to increase the number of customers served, raising prices, or hiring a smartphone concierge.

Some restaurants have adapted to smartphones. They see their dishes Tweeted and Instagrammed as a good thing. For these social media-savvy restaurants, posting pics of their food means free advertising, but an adjustment like this is easier for a startup restaurant to accommodate than it is for an established restaurant using a pre-smartphone business model.

Now, apply this lesson to your own business and go back to our original question, "How sure are you that these devices are making things better?" Are your smartphone-toting employees using their devices to find ways to get work done more efficiently, or have smartphones become a distraction in the workplace with staff members checking their phone for social media notifications every few minutes?

Marin Technologies offers your business solutions to track how your employees use their mobile devices, and we can even block specific time-wasting websites to increase productivity. In fact, studies show that taking advantage of content filtering can increase employee productivity by an average of 25 percent! With that kind of savings, you can afford to take your entire staff out to lunch--be sure that everybody takes pictures of their meal!

Call Marin Technologies at (208) 329-6792 to see how content filtering can enhance the flavor of your business!

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