8 Reasons Your Restaurant Needs Pay-at-the-Table Technology

PointofSale Customer paying for bill at the table Pay at the table


How much time do your servers spend on each payment card transaction without pay-at-the-table technology?

Think about it — or take a look at this infographic from Ingenico Group. The traditional way for servers at a restaurant to handle credit card payments is as follows:

  • Take the check to the guest
  • Walk away
  • Give the guest time to find a credit card
  • Return to pick up the card and the check
  • Walks to the stationary point of sale (POS) system
  • Brings a receipt back to the guest for a tip and signature
  • Walk away
  • Go back to the table for the receipt
  • Walk back to the POS system and adjusts the transaction for gratuity

That’s a lot of steps (both figuratively and literally) just to complete a single transaction.

For restaurants with pay-at-the-table solutions, life looks much different. When the waitstaff takes a check to the table, they also bring a mobile payment device. Guests can quickly review the bill, enter a tip amount, and use their credit card or debit card to pay the check. That’s it. Pretty simple, right?

Pay-at-the-Table Technology Adds up to Big Benefits

It’s not just servers that benefit from pay-at-the-table and tableside ordering technology, but so the guests and business owner. Here are eight reasons pay-at-the-table technology is a smart investment for your restaurant.

1. Greater Operational Efficiency

As illustrated from our example above, pay-at-the-table solutions save time and steps. Check presentment and payment are done in one interaction rather than multiple steps and extra trips to the point of sale system.

2. Increased Table Turns

The traditional payment process between server and guest takes 12 steps and adds, on average, nine minutes per table. With pay-at-the-table mobile devices, it reduces the number of steps to almost half — 7 steps. Pay-at-the-table technology eliminates the old time-consuming way of accepting payments and replaces it with a new streamlined process. Slower service means slower table turns and fewer people served — which means less revenue per shift.

3. Reduce Wait Times for Customers

While servers are running back and forth from the table to the POS terminal, guests, on the other hand, are sitting and waiting. If your team did their best to provide a fantastic dining experience, a longer-than-necessary wait to settle the check could put a damper on the whole evening. Pay-at-the-table technology lets you cap off the evening with another example of the great customer experiences you provide.

4. Increase Gratuities and Tips

While some guests legitimately aren’t sure what to tip, others may think they’re tipping well, when in reality it’s much less than the standard 15 to 20 percent. Why not eliminate all the confusion and let pay-at-the-table devices do the math? These handheld devices can automatically calculate and suggest tip amounts so patrons can easily how much and what percentage they’re tipping.


5. More Customer Engagement

Pay-at-the-table technology gives servers more face time with customers. Rather than dropping the check and walking away, the waitstaff stays at the table throughout the entire transaction and provides an opportunity to engage with the customer more.

The pay-at-the-table solution may even allow you to ask customers to complete a brief survey about their experiences and alert a manager immediately if a guest isn’t satisfied. Tableside payment with an offer to send digital receipts is also a great opportunity for email capture to help build your customer database.

6. Increase Payment Security

If guests dip, tap, or swipe their credit cards on a mobile payment device at the table, they never hand over their card to another person. This simple gesture gives customers peace of mind that their payment card data or identity isn’t being compromised when the card is out of their sight.

7. Reduce Chargebacks

Shortly after the EMV liability shift in 2015, small businesses that did not upgrade to EMV payment devices were (and still are) getting hit with the post-EMV friendly fraud epidemic. This is a trend in which consumers with an EMV-enabled card make a legitimate purchase at a business that doesn’t have an EMV payment device. The cardholder then disputes the transaction with the card issuer and the issuer imposes a chargeback on the acquiring bank, who in turn, passes it onto the merchant.

This form of friendly fraud has become especially rampant in the restaurant industry because tipping adds a layer of complexity when it comes to authorizing EMV transactions. However, pay-at-the-table solutions are a great way to overcome these challenges and also protect your restaurant from chargebacks and fraud.

8. Increase Profitability

Turning tables faster, keeping customers happy and building their loyalty, operating more efficiently, and reducing costs including EMV chargebacks total up to more profitable business operations. Try this ROI calculator to see what tableside payments can do for your bottom line.

See Also: See Also: 7 Ways Restaurant Technology is Changing the Business of Dining

What to Look for in a Pay-at-the-Table Solution

It’s important not to make the mistake of thinking that any pay-at-the-table device can provide your restaurant with maximum benefits. Look for pay-at-the-table devices with these must-have features.

POS Integration

Mobile payment devices will provide your restaurant with the highest level of efficiency if they can fully integrate with your restaurant POS system and business management systems.

Connection Type

Pay-at-the-table devices should give you the option to connect wirelessly to your POS system via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a cellular connection.

EMV Transactions

EMV-capable pay-at-the-table devices allow you to accept card payments securely, with chip technology that creates a unique cryptogram for each transaction. This helps to reduce card fraud — a counterfeited card will be rejected if your system is EMV compliant, saving you the cost and hassle of dealing with chargebacks.

Contactless Payments

With the increasing popularity of mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay and the rollout of contactless cards in 2019, make sure your pay-at-the-table devices also include near-field communication (NFC) contactless technology. This can provide your guests with even greater convenience, enabling them to “tap and go.”

Time-saving Features for Servers

A pay-at-the-table device should make a server’s job easier, not harder. Choose a solution that allows them to log in on the PIN pad with the same credentials they use on your POS system. The pay-at-the-table solution can also allow them to open checks, modify items, access a “my checks” or “all checks” list, and provide them with easy reorder functionality.

PointofSale Waitress using pay at the table device at table Pay at the table

Customer-friendly Interface

Guests, as well as servers, use tableside devices, so make sure your pay-at-the-table solution’s interface is customer-friendly, with easy to read instructions and options to pay in full, spit the check, see tip suggestions, or a chance to rate their service.

E-receipts and Built-in Printer

Your tableside payment solution should also give guests the option to print a receipt using a built-in printer or to have a digital receipt sent to their email address. If these email addresses can be populated into your marketing database, that’s a bonus.

Hardware Warranty

Also, choose a pay-at-the-table device backed by a hardware warranty that will give you peace of mind knowing if the device is accidentally dropped or damaged that your investment is fully protected.

Is Your Restaurant Operating Efficiently — or Stuck in the Past?

Today’s consumers value their time and demand convenient, efficient service. Pay-at-the-table solutions can replace the old process of running back and forth to a POS terminal with on-the-spot service and more meaningful customer engagement.

If you’re ready to add the leading pay-at-the-table solution to your restaurant, visit www.skytab.com to learn more or check out the SkyTab press release

About the Author

Mike Monocello

A former VAR and ISV, Mike Monocello is the co-founder of McM Media, publisher of DevPro Journal and XaaS Journal, and a regular contributor to PointofSale.com.   Mike is also the owner and publisher of SCAN: The Data Capture Report and a regular contributor to RSPA Connect magazine and part of the RSPA’s education faculty.