Waitrr's Chief Operating Officer, Tim Davies, recently engaged in a captivating conversation surrounding Waitrr and his entrepreneurial voyage in the Restaurant & Retail Revel(ations) podcast. Follow one of the links below to delve into the origins of Waitrr, gain insights into the dynamic landscape of digitizing the Food and Beverage industry, and glean valuable lessons from the team's remarkable entrepreneurial expedition.
Don't miss out on this enlightening discussion that unveils the transformative potential of Waitrr and the exciting journey that led us here!
Welcome back to a fresh episode of restaurant and retail revelations. This podcast is sponsored by Revel Systems provider of the leading cloud-native point of sale on the market.
And my co-host and I have the pleasure of chatting with leaders spanning the restaurant and retail verticals.
And episode 39. It is no different. Today we're sharing the airwaves with Tim Davies, Chief Operating Officer of Waitrr.
So if you haven't heard of Waitrr or taken advantage of their solution, yet, they are a QR code ordering and payment solution for restaurants. And we'll explore that in a little bit more detail with Tim.
That's right Sydney and as a Revel integrated partner, Waitrr is helping to drive meaningful operational efficiencies for so many revel clients when it comes to really simplifying the customer experience.
Well, we don't want to steal too much from Tim's thunder today. So let's jump right in. Here's Tim.
Tim, welcome to the restaurant and retail revelations podcast. We're really excited to have you on the show today.
Thanks great to be here
For any of our listeners may be less familiar with Waitrr at your core. It's a QR core ordering and payment solution for restaurants often referred to as your digital waiter, which I like a lot.
Can you expand on the many ways that waiter simplifies the payments experience across the variety of ordering channels we experienced today at restaurants? For operators, staff and their patrons?
Yeah, sure. So it's probably easier if I split it up between like the guest experience and then the restaurant experience. And so from a guest experience, the biggest pain point is probably there's there's a couple elements to it, one would be in a busy restaurant getting the attention of the waiter to get a physical menu. And then once you're ready to order, flag the flagging your way down to place your order.
And then when you're done dining, paying the bill. And so from a from a guest experience waiter ticks all of those boxes. So I guess scans the QR code. And I'm sure you've heard the story many times of of QR ordering and payment solutions, but I guess scans the QR code, it brings up the menu in their phone without needing to download an app, it's inside a browser, they order and then they pay.
And they can order multiple times and then pay at the end of their meal. And so when they're done eating, they stand up and leave. And it's a very smooth, seamless experience for the guests.
So that the key benefit is just time saving and having a pleasant experience where you focus on having a conversation with your the other diner without having to get the attention of waitstaff.
And then on the restaurant side, and this is probably a bigger benefit is that as as you know, restaurants really struggled to find waiters and waitresses.
And so Waitrr enables restaurants to serve more guests with increased average spend through technology. And so the orders will go directly into the point of sale system without the need for the staff to keyed in.
So they basically just increase their profits with fewer staff.
Yeah, that's, you know, I can think of at least probably five to 10 local favorite restaurants that I wish would implement something like this just because, I mean, it's no secret.
I think we'll dive into this a little bit deeper later in the episode. But labor is an ongoing challenge. And so to ease that burden and make for a better guest experiences got to be a win-win, really.
So now that we have a better sense of just the challenges that Waitrr is helping to address broadly in the hospitality space. I'd love to give our listeners a better sense of your role and how that fits into the whole puzzle.
So I'm curious to know if there are specific career milestones that led you to the position you have today. And then of course, what your day-to-day as Chief Operating Officer at Waitrr entails?
Yeah, sure. So my background I I've moved around a bit. So I was I was actually big business. So I worked for a bank as an analyst for a while. And then I did my MBA at Babson College, and USA, and it was there.
I got into marketing and so and startups, everyone who goes to Babson ends up working for a startup at some point or another.
And so a lot of my friends are going off and running startups. And I wasn't quite ready to jump into startups yet. I was I was a big business guy.
And so I went to work for Unilever in brand management, which was kind of like running a smaller business within a bigger business. And I was looking after a food brand. And so I got to know a bit more about the food category. And then I came to Asia. And I got to know my now co-founder, Tim Wekezer, and it was actually him that inspired me to come across to Waitrr.
So his background is he's the restaurant guy. So he's been working in restaurants since the age of 8, like his family owned restaurants. So he worked as a waiter a share for restaurant manager across multiple outlets across multiple countries.
And he's got an MBA from INSEAD. And so he was sort of like a very, very restaurant-focused guy. And I loved what he was doing. I love I love what he was building, I love the solution that it was that he was working on. And so I was like, I want to go go do that. And so that was that was my history. And that's how I got into it.
And I've been in startups since 2012. And I've been specifically in Waitrr since 2017. My role as chief operating officer is a bit of everything. So look after sales, marketing, tech and operations. That's, that's what we, that's those are sort of my areas of responsibility.
And then my co-founder looks after fundraising and as overall strategy and overseas expansion. So yeah, how can I expand on that further?
You do a lot of stuff. Ya know that that's really cool. Tim and I love the fusion of backgrounds, you and your co founder bring together I think that's really interesting. And, and obviously such a fit for what you're doing today.
I want to pivot a bit and take advantage of, you know, some of the industry knowledge that I know you've picked up across your career and your role at Waitrr today.
So, you know, in recent years, we've experienced our fair share of financial and health crises around the world. And in your eyes, what sort of lasting impacts have these crises had specifically on the restaurant consumer experience? And how does Waitrrr help solve for those?
Yeah, sure. So well, yeah, you mentioned health and, and other shortages. So, so health, obviously COVID, the big one. And, and we, Waitrr existed before COVID. So we've always believed that technology can serve it serve a role in making the lives of restaurant owners easier. And so we always believed in QR ordering, even before COVID. But what COVID did was educate the population about QR codes in general.
And so there was a couple of things which which came into play, like, every phone now has a QR order, or a QR reader built into the camera. And so that technology just enabled everyone who has a phone to be able to scan QR codes. And then because of all the contactless options available during COVID, It educated everyone Oh, there's a QR code, point your camera at it.
And so that COVID accelerated the industry adoption massively in a really, really short period of time, because you our codes looked like they were dying for a period of time. COVID happen and then QR codes were big. And so we worldwide have benefited a lot from COVID. Because we grew massively, we really empathize with our restaurant partners who are really, really hurting at the time. So Waitrr, obviously, as you can imagine, took a massive hit in terms of volume during COVID.
Because all of our restaurant partners were a dining company, we specialize in dining, all our restaurant partners we shut, our business was essentially shut. But we were getting calls every day saying when we reopened, we're going to need you.
And so it was an accelerator for our business. But we were hurting and all of our restaurant partners were hurting. So it was a really, really expensive, but rapid education of the market. And so that's that's sort of the COVID piece and the health crises.
And I think what, what some people who spoke to us, they had was are wondering whether after COVID, whether Waitrr would still be relevant. And what we've found is that we've continued to grow, we've continued to accelerate, because once a restaurant tries out QR ordering and payment solution, they realized the efficiencies, they realized that they can actually improve customer service by leveraging the tech in the right way.
And so then they don't switch or revert back to what they were doing before. labor. Labor has been a challenge in the restaurant space for I think a really, really long time.
So my co-founder tells me yeah, this has always been a problem in the f&b space, like finding good waitstaff or waiters is just a big problem in general, like he has always spent a large portion of his time recruiting, tap training, retaining then, and then recruiting again, because you lose some of your key staff.
And so I think COVID accentuated that. Because already it's a tough industry where waiters are working pretty poor hours, like you're having to work during dinner, you're having to work on your, on your holidays.
And so it was already a problem. And then you add a pandemic on top of it. And so people are then putting their health at risk. And so it meant that there was a lot of people stepping away from the industry.
And so, yeah, labor shortage has just been accentuated by by COVID. And so that's, yeah, that sort of plays into the space that we play in.
Big time. And accelerator is a term we hear so often. You know, I'm curious to double-click on the labor topic in particular, are there any do you have any stats or like just general numbers in terms of the efficiencies that restaurants are able to experience after deploying Waitrr?
It's, it's, it varies a fair amount, and that it's heavily dependent on a couple of things. So one would be the size and scale of your operation. And so if you've got a small restaurant where you only had two floor staff, and then you implement something like, Well, you might get rid of one of those floor staff, or you might have been trying to hire a second one, and then you just never were able to.
And so then you don't, you don't bother which case that'll be a 50% improvement in your, in your floor staff, a bigger restaurant, we had a restaurant partner that has a very open plan, which means that guests can walk in and then sit down anywhere in this restaurant, and they can enter from any location.
And it was really hard for them to manage that space, because guests were coming in and sitting down, and they wouldn't notice that they were there.
And so in order to have to look after that floor space, they would have needed something like six or seven more waiters than they had. And so with Waitrr, they can serve it with just two staff members.
And so it's heavily dependent on the configuration of the restaurant, how many staff you've got.
But what we often hear is that restaurants have been able to save, like or improve their operation operational efficiency between about 12% and about 30%. On average.
That's great. I'm sure they'll take that any day. Yeah, it's it's so interesting, you know, to just think about how challenging the past couple of years have been for restaurants and the businesses that support them.
It's been a lot of pivoting. But I think at the end of the day, it's great to see how technology can be a buffer to a lot of these challenges that they're facing. And we touched on this earlier, Tim, but we're so glad to have Waitrr in the family of Revel integrated partners.
And we'd love for you to share a little bit more about what that integration between Revel and Waitrr looks like.
And just, you know, kind of how does it work? What does an implementation look like at a very high level? We'd love to learn a little bit more.
Yeah, sure. So as you can probably imagine, when a restaurant areas, setting up their menu inside Revel, they might not necessarily put in the customer-friendly language.
And say in the menu, you want to have, I don't know succulent chicken breast, that might be what you want, it might be what what you might want to show to a guest. But in Revel, you might just have chicken maybe. And so what we do on waiter side is that will help the restaurant setting up their menu initially.
And so they can give us the menu in any format. So it could be a photo of the menu on the wall, if it if it's a very casual place, it could be a PDF, it could be any kind of format.
And then we map that to the Revel, the setup that they've gotten in Revel to the menu they've got and Revel. And so what that means is when a guest places an order at in Waitrr, it automatically flows into the Revel and the way it's been set up in the kitchen.
And so a gas could order a burger, a drink and a dessert, and the burger will go to the burger station, the drink will go to the bar, and the dessert will go to the cashier automatically, just because of the and the way that the Waitrr and revenue has been integrated.
It's just seamless, the guest doesn't need, the staff don't need to keyed in any steps, it just works and printing the kitchen automatically, either on a printer or KDS it depends on the configuration of the restaurant.
So in a way, you guys are almost like a translator, I really love the you know, the, from the succulent chicken breast and making sure that everything connects and goes to the place that it should that's, that's very cool.
So on Revel, Revel's smart because you can do things like obviously modifiers and manage your modifiers. And so you can you can build a an order and then automatically upsell so it could have something like that you're adding the burger.
And then you choose let you force the guests to choose what type of bread you want that that burger to have. And so that way, you never forget the the right items that always print in the kitchen, the chef knows precisely what to prepare.
Yeah. And so in saying that, you know, I'm one wondering if there is a shared client, we don't have to name names. But if there's a shared client that comes to mind for you, that you can think of who really saw some benefits after moving forward with this implementation.
I just love a good success story. And I'd love to hear a little bit about what that experience was like.
Yeah, I've got a few that I can think of. So one is once a Mexican place in Darwin, Australia. It's a massive it has a massive floor plate. And they were just that labor crunch. You mentioned they just couldn't hire enough staff to provide the level of service that they wanted in that space.
And so what they were doing before using when it was literally closing half the restaurant, and so because they were just getting too many complaints that guests would go there, they weren't getting served.
They weren't getting the drink thinks they weren't getting the food. And it was just a it was they were losing more brand and then the revenue they were making, so they just closed half the restaurant.
And then they implemented Waitrr. And they use Revel. And so they implemented way to the orders and the payments go through whether it automatically goes into roll it prepares in the kitchen, and they were able to run their whole restaurant again.
So it was it was basically double the revenue that they could they could process. We've got another restaurant in Singapore, that's a casual Korean restaurant, and they built it into their standard flow. So it's almost the only way to order that restaurant is through Waitrr.
And the reason they did that is it is extremely popular Korean restaurant where there's queues forming every single day. And so the most important thing is table turns.
And so if the guests can order and pay, and then as soon as they're done eating, stand up and leave, and the next person gets it, it just means more revenue for the restaurant. So that's, that's a couple of examples I can think of.
Yeah, those are great. You love to see it clients winning with technology. And looking a little bit ahead, Tim, just you know, Waitrr's trajectory, what's on the horizon?
For the company in terms of, you know, product roadmap highlights, company milestones, what do you guys have coming up?
Company roadmap, we're reasonably cagey in what we in what are the features that we're building, just as a general rule, in terms of expansion, we're currently live in six countries.
And so expanding within those countries, so big Singapore is our biggest market, but we also are operating in France, the UK, Spain, Malaysia, we've got a couple of restaurants in USA.
And so further expansion in those in those markets. So Singapore and Australia would be big markets for us that those would like to continue to grow there. In terms of product roadmap, I'm just trying to think of what I can get away with sharing, I think, just more improvements in the back end.
So there are some things that our restaurant partners would really love. And to make it an even more seamless experience. So one of the things we pride ourselves on is the ability for guests to order multiple times, and then pay at the end of the meal, I think we can roll that out.
So we've currently got it live in Singapore, we want to roll it out into Australia as well. And then in terms of milestones, we're pretty close to profitable as a company. And so that'd be, that'd be a massive one for us. So when when we hit that there'll be huge celebrations, that will should only be in a couple of months. So we're pretty excited.
Wow, that's huge. That's so awesome. And, you know, the iterative improvements, the things that you can share about, you know, back end improvements, I think they may not be as flashy on headlines, but they are really impactful for the day to day users. So we love to hear that as well.
So, Tim, you've offered so many insights, and honestly, a very short amount of time. I'm just curious, is there anything we haven't talked about so far that you feel would be important to share with our listeners?
Um, trying to think they we love working with Revel. So I think the reason I think one of the reasons we love working with you guys is there's really close alignment between your business and ours.
So and the reason I say that is that the restaurants that use Revel, excuse me, the restaurants that use revel are often really busy restaurant, and the restaurants that use Waitrr are busy restaurants. And so I think there's just really good alignment between those two.
And I think there's other use cases that are that are that are popping up on the on the edges. So we've talked a lot about the in restaurant dining experience, like QR ordering and payments. I think there could be there could be use cases in things like now that COVID is easing, things like theaters, so guests can order and pay, select their food during the breaks.
I think there's an opportunity there anywhere where there's a big queue and people needing to order Wait, and then pay, they could they could scan a QR code, and then go and collect it and skip the queue. I think that'd be really valuable. I think those are probably the key things that I could see.
Yeah, those are great additions. And that sounds like there's a lot of opportunity on the horizon for Waitrr. And we're certainly as your partner looking forward to growing alongside you guys.
And I just want to thank you, Tim for your time and sharing so much of your expertise today as the chief operating officer later. And we really appreciate it.
Awesome. Thanks a lot for opportunity to talk with you guys.
There was no shortage of great insights in this episode, that is for sure. We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
We really did. And while it can be difficult to bring up the challenges that restaurants and retailers have faced over the past few years, from the labor crisis to the pandemic and beyond.
It's also wonderful to see how technology solutions like Waitrr have really stepped up to solve some of those big obstacles and the ongoing challenges facing these industries.
Right. And Waitrr has done just that in a really big way by optimizing just a more seamless ordering and checkout experience for customers and on the whole, our entire family of integrated partners really provides the building blocks clients rely on to customize our platform and meet their exact needs.
They truly do. And as we wrap up, I would like to extend another big thanks to Tim and his team for their continued partnership. So for our listeners, whether you're a restaurant and retail revelations loyalist or a first-time listener, make sure you like and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever you get your podcasts, and that way you'll never miss an episode. We'll be back soon with even more