From managing reservations to handling takeout orders and ensuring smooth internal collaboration, a reliable and feature-rich phone system is indispensable for any restaurant or food service business. Whether you run a cozy café, a vibrant bistro, or an upscale dining establishment, selecting the right phone system can streamline operations, boost efficiency, and create unforgettable dining experiences.
Within this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the best restaurant phone systems and their features, ranging from advanced call management capabilities to seamless integration with reservation platforms and online ordering systems. Furthermore, we’ll explore their compatibility with mobile devices, their ability to integrate with popular restaurant software, and their scalability to accommodate your restaurant’s growth.
What is a restaurant phone system?
A restaurant phone system refers to the telecommunications infrastructure implemented in a restaurant to handle incoming and outgoing phone calls. It includes the hardware, software, phones, and features that facilitate efficient and effective communication within the establishment and with customers. A phone system serves as a vital tool for managing restaurant reservations, taking orders, coordinating deliveries, handling customer inquiries, and facilitating internal communication among staff members.
Key components of a restaurant phone system typically include:
Phone Lines: The system connects to multiple phone lines to handle incoming and outgoing calls simultaneously.
Extensions: Extensions allow different departments or areas within the restaurant to have their own unique phone numbers or internal extensions.
Call Management Features: These features include call routing, call forwarding, voicemail, auto-attendant, call queuing, and hold music, ensuring efficient call handling and customer service.
Reservation Integration: Some phone systems can integrate with reservation platforms, enabling seamless management of reservations, table assignments, and customer details.
Online Ordering Integration: Integration with online ordering systems allows for streamlined processing of takeout and delivery orders received via phone call.
Mobile Compatibility: Many modern phone systems are compatible with mobile devices, allowing staff members to handle each call on-the-go and access system features remotely.
Reporting and Analytics: Advanced systems provide restaurant analytics features, offering insights into call volume, call duration, customer wait times, and other performance metrics.
How does a restaurant phone system work?
A restaurant phone system works by facilitating communication between the restaurant and its customers, as well as enabling internal communication among staff members. Here’s a general overview of how a phone system typically works:
Incoming Calls: When a client dials the restaurant’s phone number, the call is received by the phone system. The system may have features like an automated attendant or receptionist who greets the caller with a recorded message and presents options to direct the call to different departments or extensions.
Call Routing: Depending on the caller’s selection or the system’s configuration, the call is routed to the appropriate department or extension. For example, reservations might have a dedicated extension, while takeout or delivery orders could be directed to another extension.
Call Handling: The staff member or employee assigned to the specific extension or department answers the call. They can handle customer inquiries, take orders, make reservations, or provide assistance as needed.
Call Transfers: If a call needs to be transferred to another staff member or department, the phone system allows for seamless call transfers. This ensures the customer is connected to the right person without any disruption.
Voicemail and Messaging: In situations where a call goes unanswered or during off-hours, the phone system may have voicemail capabilities. Clients can leave a message, which can be accessed and retrieved by staff members later. Some systems may also have features for accepting text messages or email notifications.
Internal Communication: Besides external communication with clients, a restaurant phone system enables staff members to communicate internally. This can be done through intercom features, extension-to-extension calling, or group messaging, allowing employees to coordinate efficiently and address any operational needs.
Integration with Other Systems: Many phone systems integrate with reservation platforms, online ordering systems, and other software solutions. This integration enables a seamless flow of information, such as syncing reservations or automatically populating customer details when taking orders.
Why do restaurants need a phone system?
A phone system enables efficient communication within the restaurant and with customers. It allows staff members to handle customer inquiries, take reservations, manage takeout or delivery orders, and coordinate internally. A reliable phone system ensures that every call is answered promptly, minimizing wait times and improving customer satisfaction.
Additionally, restaurants heavily rely on reservations to plan and allocate seating. A phone system with reservation management features allows staff to efficiently handle reservation requests, check availability, and assign tables, ensuring a smooth dining experience for customers and effective table utilization. For establishments offering takeout or delivery services, a phone system also facilitates order processing. Customers can call to place their orders, and staff members can efficiently handle those orders, ensuring accuracy and timely delivery or pickup.
What are the benefits of a restaurant phone system?
A restaurant phone system offers several benefits that contribute to the smooth operation and success of the establishment. Here are some key advantages:
Improved Customer Service: A restaurant phone system enables efficient handling of customer inquiries, reservations, and orders, leading to improved customer service. Each call is promptly answered, ensuring that clients receive the attention and information they need. This enhances customer satisfaction and fosters positive relationships with patrons.
Streamlined Operations: With a phone system, restaurant staff can handle tasks such as reservation management, order processing, and internal communication more efficiently. Call routing features ensure that each call is directed to the appropriate departments or staff members, reducing confusion and improving workflow. This streamlining of operations leads to increased productivity and smoother day-to-day restaurant management.
Enhanced Reservation Management: A phone system equipped with reservation management features simplifies the reservation process. Staff members can efficiently handle reservation requests, check availability, and assign tables. This results in more accurate bookings, optimized table utilization, and a seamless reservation experience for customers.
Efficient Order Handling: For restaurants offering takeout or delivery services, a phone system streamlines order processing. Staff members can quickly and accurately take customer orders over the phone, reducing errors and ensuring timely delivery or pickup. This improves overall order management and customer satisfaction.
Internal Communication: A restaurant phone system facilitates seamless internal communication among staff members. Intercom features, extension dialing, and group messaging capabilities allow for efficient coordination and collaboration. This ensures that employees can communicate effectively, reducing miscommunication and improving teamwork.
What are the top 9 restaurant phone systems?
Phone systems offer a range of features and functionalities tailored to meet the needs of restaurants, including reservation management, order processing, call routing, reporting, and integration capabilities. It’s recommended to research each system, assess your restaurant’s requirements, and compare the features, pricing, and customer reviews to determine the best fit for your specific needs.
CallHippo is a cloud-based virtual phone company and communication platform that enables businesses to make and receive calls from anywhere using devices with an internet connection. It’s the best restaurant phone system as it offers a range of features and functionalities designed to streamline communication processes and boost customer service.
CallHippo provides virtual phone numbers (voip phone numbers) from various countries, which allows restaurants to route calls to multiple devices or departments. For example, calls can be forwarded to different staff members or departments based on the nature of the inquiry, ensuring that customers reach the right person quickly.
Nextiva is the best phone system that offers various services and features to businesses, including restaurants. Nextiva offers virtual phone numbers, which can be local or toll-free, allowing restaurants to have dedicated phone lines for different purposes and multiple locations or just one location. For example, they can have separate numbers for reservations, takeout orders, or customer support, streamlining communication and providing a better experience for customers.
Nextiva’s auto attendant feature allows restaurants to set up automated menus and greetings, and customers calling the restaurant are greeted with a professional message and can be guided to the appropriate options, such as making a reservation or placing an order. Plus, the system provides detailed analytics and reporting features that enable restaurants to track call metrics, such as call volume, wait times, and call durations. This data can be used to analyze customer service performance and make data-driven improvements.
3CX is a software-based IP PBX system that offers a range of features and services to businesses, including restaurants. 3CX provides key service unit (KSU system) call management features, such as call routing, call queuing, and call forwarding. Restaurants can efficiently handle calls, distribute calls to different departments or extensions, and ensure that every call is answered promptly and that missed calls are significantly reduced.
3CX includes an automated virtual receptionist (IVR) feature that greets callers with customized messages and guides them through menu options. Single and multi-location franchises can use this feature to provide information about business hours, menu options, reservation systems, or delivery/takeout services, without tying up business lines. The system also integrates with various CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems commonly used in the restaurant industry. This integration allows restaurants to automatically log customer interactions, access caller information, and provide personalized service based on customer history.
OpenPhone is a good phone system that can offer several benefits to restaurants, including a dedicated business phone number that is separate from personal phone numbers. This helps maintain professionalism and ensures that business calls are separate and easily identifiable. Additionally, OpenPhone offers mobile and web applications, allowing restaurant staff to make and receive business calls from their smartphones, tablets, or computers.
OpenPhone supports text messaging, which is becoming increasingly important for businesses, including restaurants. Restaurants can use text messaging to communicate with customers for order confirmations, reservation reminders, and other important updates, providing a convenient and efficient communication channel. The system also allows restaurants to set business hours and configure after-hours settings. This ensures that each call outside of business hours are handled appropriately, such as being sent to voicemail or forwarded to an alternative contact.
ordering in 5 minutes
RingCentral is a cloud-based communication and collaboration platform that offers numerous features and services, such as mobile and desktop applications, allowing restaurant staff to make and receive business calls from their smartphones, tablets, or computers. RingCentral also offers advanced call routing capabilities, such as auto-attendant, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), and call queuing. Restaurants can efficiently handle calls by routing them to the right extensions, departments, or staff members, improving customer experience and reducing wait times.
Additionally, RingCentral includes team messaging and collaboration tools, allowing restaurant staff to communicate internally, share information, and collaborate in real-time. This helps streamline operations, coordinate tasks, and enhance overall efficiency.
6. Ooma Office
Ooma Office provides a cloud-based phone system with features tailored for restaurants, such as call forwarding, virtual extensions for different departments, and call management tools. It also integrates with popular POS systems to streamline operations and offers mobile and web applications that allow restaurant staff to manage calls, access voicemail, and make and receive business calls from their smartphones, tablets, or computers.
The system also includes voicemail features that allow callers to leave messages when staff members are unavailable. Voicemail messages can be accessed through the phone system or forwarded to email, ensuring that important messages are received and responded to promptly.
While primarily known as a restaurant scheduling and labor management platform, 7shifts also offers a phone system for restaurants and other small businesses in the food industry. It provides features like call routing, voicemail, and caller ID, allowing restaurants to handle calls and communicate with their staff efficiently. The system also has tools for creating and managing employee schedules. Restaurants can easily build schedules, assign shifts, and handle shift changes or time-off requests.
The platform also helps restaurants monitor and control labor costs by providing insights into labor expenses, projected labor costs, and actual labor costs, allowing restaurants to make data-driven decisions to optimize labor spending and improve profitability.
Talkroute is a virtual phone system that provides features suitable for restaurants, such as call forwarding, voicemail transcription, and auto-attendant. It offers virtual phone numbers and can be easily managed through a web-based interface. The system also enables restaurants to set up call routing and forwarding rules based on specific criteria, such as time of day or caller location. Calls can be directed to different departments or staff members, ensuring that customers reach the right person quickly.
Additionally, the system offers an automated attendant feature that greets callers with customized messages and options. Restaurants can set up professional greetings and interactive menus, call queuing, call recording, and voicemail.
MyOperator offers a cloud-based phone system designed for restaurants. It includes features like IVR, call tracking, call recording, and call analytics. The system helps restaurants handle incoming calls, track marketing campaigns, and improve customer service. MyOperator provides an IVR system that greets callers with customized messages and options. Restaurants can set up automated menus to guide callers, offer information about operating hours, take reservations, and present menu options.
The system also provides detailed analytics and reports on call volumes, durations, peak times, and other call-related metrics. Restaurants can gain insights into customer call patterns, monitor staff performance, and make data-driven decisions to improve operational efficiency.
How to choose the right restaurant phone system?
Choosing the right phone system requires careful consideration of your specific needs and evaluating various factors. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you choose the right restaurant phone system:
- Assess Your Requirements: Start by assessing your restaurant’s communication needs. Consider factors such as the volume of incoming and outgoing calls, the number of extensions or departments requiring separate phones, the need for reservation management, online ordering integration, and any other specific features or functionalities important to your operations.
- Identify Key Features: Make a list of essential features you require in a phone system. This may include call routing, call recording, voicemail, automated attendants, call forwarding, integration with reservation or online ordering platforms, and any other features specific to your restaurant’s needs.
- Consider Scalability: Think about the growth potential of your restaurant. Choose a phone system that can easily scale up or accommodate additional lines/extensions as your business expands. Scalability ensures that your communication infrastructure can grow with your restaurant without requiring significant changes or investments in the future.
- Budget Considerations: Determine your budget for a phone system, including installation costs, monthly subscription fees, and any additional charges for specific features or add-ons. Consider the value and ROI (Return on Investment) the system can provide in terms of improved customer service, operational efficiency, and long-term cost savings.
- Read Reviews and Seek Recommendations: Research and read reviews of different phone systems from reputable sources or industry forums. Look for feedback from businesses similar to yours to gain insights into the pros and cons of each system. Seek recommendations from industry peers, restaurant associations, or trusted advisors who have experience with restaurant phone systems.
- Assess your specific communication needs and requirements before selecting a phone system for your restaurant.
- Identify key features that are essential for your restaurant’s operations, such as call routing, reservation management, integration capabilities, and scalability.
- Consider your budget and evaluate the value and ROI that a phone system can provide for your restaurant.
- Read reviews and seek recommendations from industry peers to gain insights into the pros and cons of different phone systems.
- Request demos or trials to test the user interface, features, and ease of use for your staff.
- Evaluate the quality and availability of customer support provided by the phone system provider.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The cost of a telephone system for restaurants can vary based on several factors, including the size of the establishment, desired features, and the type of system chosen. Here are some considerations for estimating the cost:
- System Type: The cost will depend on whether you choose a traditional landline system, a VoIP system, or a virtual phone system. VoIP and virtual phone systems generally offer more cost-effective options compared to traditional landline systems.
- Equipment: Traditional landline systems may require purchasing physical hardware such as desk phones and a PBX system. VoIP systems and virtual phone systems often utilize IP phones or software-based options, which can be more affordable.
- Installation and Setup: Consider any costs associated with installation or setup. Traditional landline systems might require professional installation, while VoIP and virtual phone systems can often be self-installed using provided instructions.
- Monthly Service Charges: Evaluate the monthly service charges for the chosen telephone system. Traditional landline systems usually have fixed monthly fees, whereas VoIP and virtual phone systems offer more flexibility with pricing plans based on user count and desired features.
- Additional Features: Some telephone systems offer extra features like call routing, call recording, voicemail, auto-attendant, and integrations. The inclusion of such features can impact the overall cost.
When answering the phone as a hostess in a restaurant, it’s essential to provide a professional and welcoming greeting. Here’s a suggested script for answering the phone:
- Start with a greeting: “Thank you for calling [Restaurant Name].”
- Introduce yourself and ask how you can assist: “This is [Your Name]. How may I assist you today?”
- Listen attentively to the caller: Allow them to state their request or inquiry without interruption.
- Provide a helpful response: Based on the caller’s request, provide relevant information or assistance. Examples include:
- For reservations: “Certainly, we’d be delighted to assist you with a reservation. May I know the date and time you’re interested in?”
- For general inquiries: “Of course, I’m here to help. How may I assist you?”
- For takeout or delivery orders: “Absolutely, we offer takeout and delivery. Could you please provide your address and the items you’d like to order?”
- Speak clearly and use a polite tone: Ensure that your voice is clear, friendly, and professional throughout the conversation.
Digital phone systems, also known as digital telephony or digital PBX (Private Branch Exchange) systems, are phone systems that transmit voice signals as digital data over a digital network, such as the internet or a digital telephone line. These systems use digital technology to convert analog voice signals into digital packets, allowing for efficient transmission and enhanced features.
Here are some key characteristics and features of digital phone systems:
- VoIP Technology: Digital phone systems often utilize Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, which allows voice communication to be transmitted over IP networks, such as the internet. This enables cost-effective and scalable communication solutions.
- Internet-based Communication: Digital phone systems use the internet to establish and route calls. They leverage broadband internet connections for voice transmission, eliminating the need for traditional landline phone services.
- Feature-Rich Functionality: Digital phone systems offer a wide range of features beyond basic call handling, such as call forwarding, call recording, voicemail-to-email, auto-attendant, virtual extensions, conference calling, and more. These features enhance communication and productivity within organizations.
- Scalability and Flexibility: Digital phone systems can easily scale to accommodate growing business needs. Additional lines and extensions can be added without significant hardware changes. This scalability makes them suitable for restaurants of varying sizes.
- Cost Savings: Digital phone systems often offer cost savings compared to traditional landline systems. They typically have lower upfront costs, and long-distance or international calls are often more affordable, especially for restaurants with international operations or frequent long-distance communication.
For a small independent restaurant, a virtual phone system would generally be a suitable choice due to its affordability, flexibility, and ease of use. Virtual phone systems operate over the internet and do not require physical hardware installations. Here are a few virtual phone system options that could be beneficial for a small independent restaurant:
- Grasshopper: Grasshopper offers a virtual phone system with features such as virtual phone numbers, call forwarding, voicemail, and automated greetings. It is user-friendly and allows calls to be answered on mobile devices or existing landline phones.
- Google Voice: Google Voice provides a free or low-cost virtual phone system that includes features like call routing, voicemail transcription, and call screening. It can be accessed through a web interface or mobile app, making it convenient for staff members.
- OpenPhone: OpenPhone is a virtual phone system designed for small businesses. It offers features such as a dedicated business phone number, call routing, text messaging, and call management tools. OpenPhone can be accessed through mobile and web applications.