Independent operators aren’t as convinced as their chain counterparts that technology gives them a competitive advantage. While just over three-fourths think it can help boost sales and productivity, according to a survey from the National Restaurant Association, more than half of independents say that technology makes the experience more complicated for customers.
That’s part of the reason indies aren’t implementing as much tech in their operations as chains, with about two in five independents saying their efforts are lagging behind mainstream uses. But costs remains the biggest barrier—both chains and independents name initial implementation costs as the No. 1 reason they don’t have more consumer-facing tech. From there, though, the challenges differ. And for independents, it’s the ongoing usage fees that hurt second most.
Even once in place, support and maintenance remain a constant challenge. Only about a quarter of independents employ tech staff, compared to more than half of chains.
Despite these barriers, nearly three in 10 independent restaurants are devoting more resources to upgrades this year. Granted, chains are about twice as likely to put funds toward tech, but independents plan to invest in both their hardware and software.
Most independents have websites (though not all are mobile friendly), but they are far behind chains in their use of other front- and back-of-house amenities. Still, independents see room for growth. While new ordering tech is an important area that they’d like to see more development in over the next five years, payment options remain a top need for these operators.
Restaurants that currently use these technologies:
All restaurants | Independent | Franchisee/Chain