As mobile technology grows in its scope and ubiquity, more and more industries are adding it to their daily routines. Food service is no exception – restaurants are giving tablets and smart phones to their servers to improve efficiency and accuracy. While some traditionalists prefer the pen-and-paper method, there are benefits to using mobile technology in the service industry.

Fewer mistakes, faster notation
One distinct advantage apps provide is the easy entry of an order into the system. A server will not have to write down complex orders and run the ticket back to the kitchen. Instead, with the push of a button, a customer's choice can be sent straight to the kitchen with accuracy and celerity.

According to Full-Service Restaurant Magazine, Chef Chris Wishart of Trio Restaurant & Bar in Mount Airy, North Carolina, prefers his iPads over notepads.

"It's been extremely successful, and I measure that by the lack of frustration," Wishart says. "The iPads are linked [wirelessly] to a MacBook and printers that print orders in the bar and kitchen. We've had no problems, any glitches weren't due to the software."

More control to the customer
The Miami Herald reported that at D-Dog House in Brickell, Florida, patrons of the restaurant have limited interaction with waiters. That's because owner Sean Raee has implemented a direct interface through which customers enter their orders on the iPad sitting on their table. When the order is in, a server will confirm it with the customer and deliver the food.

The innovation puts complete control in the hands of the patron and will allow restaurants to get by on fewer staff, therefore reducing labor costs.

Brian Connors, associate professor in food and beverage management at Johnson & Wales, told the Miami Herald that "speed is one of the top overall negative comments. People are always on their own schedules. I think we're going to come into a world of even higher customization."

Servers still provide human element
While tablets can streamline the restaurant experience, a good server is still irreplaceable, says Heather Thitoff of the Ocean Prime in Dallas, Texas. She explained to Full-Service Restaurant Magazine that, while a server can impress patrons with memory or a high-tech system, "it's more important to give the guest a level of comfort that everything will be right."

Hospitality and restaurant industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in food service equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.