It is 2017, but many companies are still conducting business as it had been done in the 20th century. In fact, almost half of American small businesses do not have a website and only 36 percent use a business website to communicate news to their customers and prospective clients, according to a recent CNBC report.

At the same time, technology is modernizing the way business is done, and the restaurant industry is in the forefront of that shift. From digitized menus to online ordering and delivery, restaurateurs that embrace advancements in technology are maximizing the full potential of their businesses. Simplifying the experience for customers and maintaining the relationship with them has become paramount.

Now in its fifth year in business, Nick's Pizza & Deli, located in suburban Fanwood, New Jersey, is an example of a small company leveraging technology to increase sales. The family-owned pizzeria, run by 27-year-old Rob Watterson, takes an innovative approach to reaching its customers, who include suburban commuters who frequently order and pay via their cell phones on the train so that their dinner is ready to grab-and-go when they get to the eatery.

To set up online ordering and payment, Watterson turned to The Block, which specializes in establishing a digital presence for small businesses by developing custom websites with online ordering capabilities and search optimized keywords. The pizzeria owner estimates that incorporating technology helped his establishment increase annual revenues by 15-20 percent over the course of six months. He convinced his less tech-savvy father, Paul, to incorporate similar technology at Fanwood Grille, where the elder Watterson serves as general manager. Although the luncheonette makes a sizeable part of its revenue from breakfast orders, such as omelets and pancakes, a growing amount of orders have begun to come in for lunch and dinner items, including hot dogs, hamburgers and Maine lobster rolls.

While pizzerias and luncheonettes frequently are mom-and-pop shops, the Wattersons have discovered that technology can be a game changer for a small food business. It's no different from the success that many small retail outlets have experienced by partnering with Amazon to sell products on the internet.

Consumers, particularly Millennials, typically prefer to conduct business via their cell phones. Business owners that are unafraid to incorporate technology into their operations and are willing to invest in the start-up costs of doing so, can gain a significant advantage over their rivals. In an ever competitive 21st century marketplace, use of technology can be a game changer.

Online processing has dramatically impacted retail, as well as my industry, small business financing. Even "old school" businesses such as restaurants and pizzerias are learning how beneficial incorporating online technology can in creating a brand, building customer loyalty, and maximizing revenue.

Published on: Jul 24, 2017