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- Toast Order & Pay™
Zócalo Embraces Order & Pay™ Technology to Meet the Moment and Prepare for the Future
Ryan Rose, the President of Zócalo in Sacramento, California, sees Order & Pay™ and The New Steps of Service as the future of the restaurant industry.
The New Steps of Service is a way for restaurants to combine the traditional touchpoints of restaurant hospitality with the efficiencies of technology that guests have gotten used to this year.
By equipping guests with technology that lets them order their food and drinks themselves, and then pay once they’re ready, servers have more rewarding jobs with a lot less swiping credit cards and a lot less running. Plus, with built-in upsells for every order and increased efficiency that makes turning tables faster, it’s a model that also works for Ryan’s bottom line amid the many external factors that have made running a restaurant harder than ever.
During this difficult year, this model has been a lifeline for Ryan and his team. “It’s a survival mode tool for restaurants,” explained Ryan. “Staffing right now is incredibly hard… so it’s been a survival tool. But it’s also the ultimate service model that we believe is going to the future of eating out at a restaurant.”
With rising minimum wage and low candidate availability, restaurants have been facing immense difficulties when it comes to staffing their restaurants. The New Steps of Service and Order & Pay™ helps solve this problem. “If beforehand the server was taking five to six tables, that person can now take about 10,” explained Ryan.
Zócalo can run their restaurant with fewer servers, and still provide amazing food, service, and hospitality — while trimming down the repetitive and sometimes uncomfortable process of taking payment. Ryan’s team is taught to explain the model to any guests that are initially hesitant, saying things like “I'm here this whole time. I'm helping guide you through the thing, and I'm going to be able to get your stuff quicker. It's going to be more convenient for you because you can leave when you want. And if you would like me to take your order, that's completely okay,” he shared.
“We see [Order & Pay™] as a tool to enhance service, not as a way to take away a person,” said Ryan. “It’s not to take away people. I just don’t believe that service is me taking your order and writing it down on a piece of paper.”
Order & Pay™ means that servers can focus more on building relationships with guests. There are reduced labor costs not only due to having fewer servers, but by having built-in upsells for every order, leading to increased sales that help to offset labor costs overall.
“We’ve seen an increase in sales because of upsells,” said Ryan. “If you order a margarita, the first question it’s going to ask is what tequila would you like? And from there, would you like a pitcher or a single? That’s two upgrades in one menu item.”
The Order & Pay™ system prompts guests to fill out modifiers and add-ons for every item, every time. Every margarita ordered includes those two potential upgrades. “A server allows the emotion of the ‘no’ to stop them from asking the question over the course of a night, and the tech doesn't,” says Ryan.
We’ve seen an increase in sales because of upsells. If you order a margarita, the first question it’s going to ask is what tequila would you like? And from there, would you like a pitcher or a single? That’s two upgrades in one menu item.
Faster Table Turns
When guests can order their first round of drinks and appetizers the moment they sit down through a QR code ordering system, and when they can pay on their phones and head out as soon as they’re ready, there’s a significant time savings that immediately makes a difference — both for guests and for the business.
Zócalo reported a reduction in table turn time by 5-15 minutes per table — which really adds up every night, every week, and every month.
Greater Order Accuracy = Fewer Reactive Discounts
Since guests input their own orders — including modifiers — orders go straight to the kitchen without hand-scribbled server notes to transcribe or anything lost in translation.
Because of this, Zócalo reported 10% fewer discounts since implementing Order & Pay™ thanks to greater order accuracy. That’s great for his bottom line, but it’s also great for guest satisfaction.
Order & Pay™ as a Training Tool
Thanks to implementing Order & Pay™ this past year, Ryan is going into spring feeling more confident about hiring new servers. “Spring is when you find out how behind you are… and you don’t have enough staff,” said Ryan. “You have 150 brand new people who are out there supposed to be the face of Zócalo and they’ve been there for 5 days. [Order & Pay™] is another tool that’s getting them that information, helping them with the flow of how things are ordered, to make their jobs a little easier.”
And on top of that, printed menus are becoming a thing of the past at Zócalo. “Last March going into spring, we had $10,000 worth of printed menus sitting in our office that never hit the floor,” he says. Printing menus for their five locations can typically cost the business up to $40,000, he says, and that’s a cost that he won’t have to worry about anymore.
Keeping Guests Coming Back
First-time visitors to Zócalo get to experience this exciting new way of dining in, and floor captains walk them through the ordering process, ready to help at any time.
And while guests may initially be resistant to change, Ryan says they typically become Order & Pay™ pros quickly — and it’s an experience they’re willing to come back for. In fact, at Zócalo, Ryan reports a 40% returning customer rate these days.