The iPad is light, has a long battery life, and can be used anywhere. The point-and-touch interface makes it easy for people who don’t like computers.
Here’s our first list of 20 ways an iPad can improve marketing, management and efficiency in your Restaurant, Cafe, Hotel, Bar or Club. It doesn’t cover the many ordering apps created by restaurants or chains, but focuses on the ever-expanding management capacity the iPad can add to a business. This feels like just the beginning – please add suggestions and examples to the Comments at the end.
In the Kitchen:
Use Recipe apps: to find recipes and cooking instructions. Allow cooks to search and check as needed – place it on the wall with velcro tape so it’s out of harm’s way
Display Recipes as PDF files: Here’s on example – generate recipes on your PC or Mac with the Profitable Recipe Manager and save them as PDF files. Add them to ‘Books’ in iTunes so they will be available in the iBooks app when you next sync your iPad with iTunes. You can add any documents this way.
Find cookbooks: read reviews and find where to buy. In Australia, go to Booko to find the cheapest shop locally or from overseas.
Download cookbooks into the Kindle app: do you really need another huge cookery book on your shelves? If you want it right now, add the free Kindle app and buy the book through Amazon. Or through Apples iBook store (which has a smaller range).
Use it as a Control Panel: electronic services ranging from home security to power management and sound mixing are using iPads to run their control software – and this is just the start! Instead of customers needing special hardware, they download an app that’s connected to the relevant software or controllers. When will kitchen equipment suppliers offer this?
Monitor Energy Use: with an app like Meter Readings (UK). The more you track data like this, the more energy use is understood and controlled. If your utility supplier isn’t offering something like this soon, they should be!
Work on budgets and costings: import or create spreadsheets with Numbers or similar apps (search for ‘spreadsheet’). You can also access online spreadsheets in Google Docs – easily edited or create new ones.
Induction & Skills Training: show videos on the iPad – store them in Movies, or link to the YouTube version. It won’t be long before there are customisable apps available, with videos, written instructions and quizzes, just like those used by large organisations on PCs.
Safety Training and Information: a couple of examples – WorkSafe BC is a Canadian work safety app with information for a particular jurisdiction. How soon before your state or region offers one? Kitchen iQ is a safety inspection app, available free from a supplier. We can expect many more like this.
Add Online Content to Briefings and Training: topics could include checking online reviews at other venues, relevant news stories, product information, supplier websites etc. See more Twenty Minute Training Topics, many of which could be assisted by an iPad.
Record notes at staff meetings: don’t just take notes, but record the meeting at the same time with an app like SoundNote. There are many apps for just taking notes: once written, they can be emailed directly to participants.
In the Front of House:
As a POS Replacement: POS companies are moving fast, and we can expect many to move away from supplying ‘iron’ and instead offer systems that use an iPad as the hardware. Here’s an example from Revel Systems.
Display and Sell from the Menu: MenuPAD is an early leader, with a product that can be linked to multiple POS systems. To make these into a powerful sales tool, the app needs to be linked to the POS and offer upselling features eg once the customer orders pasta, it will then ask what type of salad they would like.
Display and Sell from the Wine List: the iPad allows you to have not only a list, but connections to wineries and regions. We need a generic ‘wine list’ format that allows a venue to add their own list, pricing and links. Plus an ordering link to the POS so it’s not just for browsing but also selling. This is the type of Wine List app that will become increasingly common.
Find Cocktail Recipes: there are dozens of Cocktail apps, ready to help you with exotic requests. Useful for training as well as reference.
Ask for Customer Feedback: apps like SurveyNow and iFeedKiosk are ready to customise and use for touch-screen surveys. They can then collate results and email them to you. These are simple, but the feedback you ask for needs to be short if you want a response!
Keep Children Occupied: chances are they already have digital games, but an iPad with a range of new entertainment might also be welcomed by parents. Let me just check the 20,000 possible options…
Create a Photo Gallery of Function and Event Pictures: rooms, food display, table settings, entertainment options, videos of the band etc. Flick through the album with your client, and email images they are keen on.
Browse through Function Packages and Menus: save them as PDF files and added to ‘Books’ in iTunes. When you sync your iPad with iTunes, they will be available in the iBooks app.
Connect Customers to your Facebook Page: allow customers to sign in to their Facebook account and ‘like’ your venue – just hand them the means to do it, especially if there’s a competition running and they want to participate. Have a dedicated Facebook link button on your iPad, and make sure people log OUT after using it!
Add people to your Mailing List: if they’re interested, le them sign up from the link on your home page (you do have one, yes??). Or use a data collection app like Pico that connects with my favourite data collection/survey site Wufoo.
How else can the iPad be used to create a more efficient operation?