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10 Creative Ways to Use QR Codes at Your Restaurant

There are many statistics on the number of smartphone users in the United States.  So if we estimate at least half of the population owns a smartphone, which is a number that continues to increase, that says a lot about the direction of the QR code.

QR code stands for “quick response,” and is a convenient way for smartphone users to get information.  All one needs is a QR code reader application, such as Kaywa or Neoreader, then can just take a picture which scans the barcode and redirects them to a link of virtually anything.

At one point, QR codes were just looked at as cool and fun.  But now, they are proving to be reliable way to share information.  For a quick QR code 101, check out this Social Media Examiner article. Once you’re ready, here are 10 creative ways your restaurant can use QR codes and potentially boost sales.

1. Front Door or Host/Hostess Area: Many times, especially during peak hours, customers will have to wait to be seated. Put a QR code in the area with a link to your website or menu to keep them busy.

2. Foursquare: It’s free and easy to get your restaurant on Foursquare—and upon claiming your restaurant, you get a free window cling to encourage people to check-in. Take it a step further to make it even easier for your customers and have a QR code at the entrance with a link to your venue on Foursquare.

3. Menus: Stick a QR code right in the menu. It could direct them to information on how certain products are made, pictures, videos of the chef cooking up an entrée or nutritional and allergy information.

4. Pagers or Coasters: People find it interesting to find a QR code in an unusual place. It’s almost like unlocking a secret. Put a QR code on your pagers or coasters that link out to drink-related things such as specials or a video of the bartender making a drink to shows off their skills.

5. Table Roll Stands: While the menu usually goes with the wait staff upon taking an order, many restaurants have table roll stands with appetizers, drinks and desserts on the table. Use a QR code on your roll stands to link to these items as an added effort for an impulse buy, whether it be a creative video, pictures, positive customer comments or additional information.

6. Bathrooms: Typically, guests take a trip to the bathroom while they are waiting for their food or their check. Place a QR code on the side of the door that exits the bathroom (so they’ve washed their hands!) that links out to appetizers and desserts to get them thinking.

7. Table or Signage: Similar to the first idea about keeping people busy while they wait, sometimes customers can be waiting for quite a bit on their food, especially during peak hours.  Put a QR code on the table or on created signage that links to all kinds of things such as your Facebook, Twitter, website, videos, etc. to keep them busy. Many times, using a phone at the table is rude to the other guest, so perhaps you could use the QR code in a way for multiple guests to interact such as trivia, games, etc.

8. Check Holders: It’s always great to get feedback about a customer’s experience and many places put a survey on the receipt.  Unfortunately, people get home and forget all about it or throw it away.  Put a QR code on your check holder to encourage customers to immediately leave their feedback and possibly even give an incentive for them to come back.

9. To-Go Cups or Packaging: You always want your customers to be thinking of you and when they will come back next.  Put a QR code on your To-Go packaging that links to a special “thank you for visiting” message, or even a special offer for them to print off and bring in for their next visit.

10. Advertising: When buying advertising space, using a lot can get expensive or it may just not be an option.  Give prospective customers more information and incentives to stop in with a QR code that links to information about your restaurant, current specials, top picks and more.

Even in all this smartphone-user talk, there are still many non-smartphone users and it may seem unfair to exclude them from specials and deals just because of their phone.  To help keep things balanced, Central usually puts the link under or around a QR code.  It is just much easier for those with smartphones to quickly scan it and be redirected immediately.  And after all, it may just put a little more money into your pocket too.

What interesting ways do you use QR codes at your restaurant?