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New Steps of Service: Frequently Asked Questions

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This new service model is benefiting restaurants all over the country. Here are some FAQs (and answers!) to help you get started.

The restaurant industry has always been tough — known for its low margins, high labor costs, unequal pay, and service models that are stuck in the past. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these issues, and guests are now expecting a different type of hospitality. 

The New Steps of Service is a modern way of structuring your front of house that combines the traditional touchpoints of hospitality with the efficiencies of technology. It streamlines the flow of service by empowering your guests to order and pay whenever they like, and it keeps the orders coming to increase average check sizes.

By putting technology in the hands of their guests, servers can embrace a more rewarding role: welcoming guests, helping them choose the right menu items, checking in, and not having to spend time running to the point of sale, entering orders and swiping credit cards. 

Many restaurants are seeing success with the New Steps of Service, but of course, many also have questions on the ins and outs of the service model, and how this new way of structuring your dining experience may work in the day to day. 

Here are some common questions and answers about Toast’s New Steps of Service.

How resistant was your staff to this change in approach? Are servers are concerned about a decrease in tipping?

Of course, some servers are hesitant to change. But the servers at Boathouse are making more money overall. Kevin Healy explained it this way: 

“Our average server in 2020 earned $19.76 per hour. We took that figure from payroll, it’s factual, not emotional. Yes, some made $300.00 in a night prior to this model, but they forget about the shifts they made $30.” 

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How have the customers reacted to a service charge?

Restaurant-goers are generally more understanding than ever about what it really takes to keep a restaurant afloat, especially after 2020.  

Meg Sahs from Monteverde in Chicago explained that service charges are becoming more and more commonplace. “We implemented the 4% charge in April and since then only one guest has commented negatively. It seems to be a common trend in Chicago, so diners are familiar with it.” 

How do you know where the order goes once it’s put in? Is the QR code “labeled” by table number or something?

Yes! QR codes are unique to each table so that the order comes into the kitchen under that table number. It works just like if a server punched in the order for a specific table. And with group ordering, where multiple people are each on one tab, each guest enters their name so that every item is associated with a guest name.

Is there an issue with having too many tickets coming into the kitchen with each guest having a separate ticket at the table?

The group ordering feature helps here. Servers make sure to communicate to the group that just one person sends the order when all guests are ready. After that, the orders are more sporadic, and generally don’t cause any more backup in the kitchen than a normal order ticket would. 

How do you all manage situations where guests may not be familiar with technology use? I.e. don't have a smartphone, or have a disability that prevents them from using self-order/pay methods?

Of course, your guest’s comfort is the most important thing. 

Ryan Rose from Zocalo explained, “We try to make sure that we give all new guests a full overview of how to place an order. If they aren’t comfortable with it, or unable to order from their phones, we use a Toast Go to take their order the old-fashioned way!” 

Does the customer see the same menu on their phone as in the POS system? Does the customer get confused by all the options in placing an order?

There are two options here. You can either build out a separate menu for Order and Pay at the Table, or use your existing menu. But, to make it easier for guests, there are visibility settings on the backend of your Toast POS that let you streamline the menu for your guests. 

How do you know when and if a guest has paid their bill?

The check will be closed on the POS, and the table will show on the table layout as not having an open check.

Is Toast Order and Pay for fast-casual restaurants that don’t have waiters? 

Yes! Order and Pay can work well at both full service and quick service or fast-casual restaurants. Read more about how Eventide uses the New Steps of Service. 

The industry is changing, and it might be time for your service model to change, as well. 

To learn how the New Steps of Service can benefit your restaurant and impact your bottom line, check out the New Steps of Service ROI calculator and watch the Reimagine On-Premise Dining webinar.

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