Whether you're running a fast-food outfit or a high-end bistro, reliable restaurant software and new tools can be the difference between a guest leaving satisfied or slightly annoyed.

From QR code menus to handheld point of sale (POS) machines to back-of-house programs, new technology is increasing efficiency and making customer service a breeze.

Here are five tech solutions you can use to speed up your service and take your guest service to the next level.

1. QR codes and digital menus

Throughout the pandemic, the use of QR codes in small businesses skyrocketed as customers tried to avoid direct contact. Statista found that about 45% of shoppers had used one in a three-month period during 2021. Meanwhile, restaurants found that the use of QR codes linked to a digital menu had more benefits than first thought: they sped up service and increased order accuracy.

From a digital menu, customers can order exactly what they want and pay for it straight from their phones—no need for an intermediary such as a server.

That server can then use their time to answer customers' questions and make more trips to the kitchen, meaning QR codes truly have a multiplier effect when it comes to speed and efficiency.

2. Handheld POS machines

In a busy restaurant, lines of people waiting to order or pay for their meals can be a bugbear.

Enter handheld POS systems, which allow the server to go directly to the guest's table in order to settle the bill. Add in multiple POS machines with multiple servers, and you can process many payments at the same time. That's a game-changer.

Even if you have one handheld POS and can serve only one guest at a time, those who are waiting can sit comfortably at their tables rather than stand in line.

3. Restaurant software that forecasts peak hours

Business and demand forecasting used to be the domain of big businesses, but now smaller businesses are being empowered by data to make better decisions.

Using data to predict when you may be busy and what you'll likely sell will help you plan to have enough staff and stock on hand to ensure smooth service. No more asking staff to pick up stock from a supplier in the middle of a shift!

When your restaurant is short-staffed, not only does your team become stressed, but your customers become annoyed that they're not being served in a timely manner. Predicting busy times can help avoid this situation.

4. Staff scheduling apps

If you've ever been a manager, you know one of the most time-consuming tasks in the world is scheduling staff.

You often find yourself in the back room playing phone tag with servers and barbacks to try and cover shifts, only for a staff member to say that they're sick and can't come in that day—meaning you have to start the whole process over again. It's like an extra-frustrating version of Jenga.

Luckily, scheduling software can be used to view rostered staff against expected income or demand.

Now, instead of managers being stuck in the back room, they can be front-of-house making sure everything is running smoothly and customers are getting timely service.

5. Online reservations

Apart from being preferred by a whole swath of people, online reservation software can help free up your staff from taking reservations on the phone. With their newfound free time, they can focus on making sure service is running smoothly and offering great customer service.

Online ordering also offers an opportunity to engage the guest beyond the booking process (with their permission, of course). To book, guests need to leave an email or phone number. You can offer them the opportunity to be contacted about specials or promotions you have coming up.

All of a sudden, the transaction isn't just a transaction—it's a marketing channel.

While they sound high-tech, all of these restaurant software and hardware solutions are within the grasp of smaller businesses.

Once the domain of big operations, now even the smallest of outfits can use these restaurant software solutions to heighten efficiency and make sure guests are getting prompt service.

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