A craving for barbecue while restaurants were closed for in-store dining due to Covid-19 inspired Todd Myers, CEO of GoZone WiFi, to develop the Sofware-as-a-Service company’s newest product.
Touchless Menu allows customers to tap a restaurant’s WiFi network to see up-to-date food and beverage offerings on their own phones.
The technology gives restaurants an option for customers who are reluctant to touch menus other people have handled. It’s safer than sanitizing reusable menus and saves the cost of printing single-use menus. It’s also less expensive to install and maintain and simpler to use than other digital menu solutions, Myers said.
The idea occurred to Myers a few weeks ago when he was at St. Petersburg’s Dr. BBQ, just around the corner from GoZone’s EDGE District office.
“I went to the restaurant while we were on lockdown and I couldn’t read the menu. It was at night, it was dark. I wear bifocals and the parking lot was dimly lit,” Myers said. “I just took a picture of the menu and was able to zoom in and read and place my order. Then it popped in my head — I’m not the only one. Why don’t we adapt our platform to have this as a feature for our existing customers?”
GoZone made adoption simple. Restaurant operators upload their current menu to a website GoZone established. There’s a drag-and-drop menu editor, pre-built menu templates and a router box. GoZone is offering one-time complimentary design services. It’s also providing signage that tells customers that Touchless Menu is available by connecting to the restaurant’s WiFi network.
Menus can be easily edited.
“There’s a lot of fluctuation in menus right now because of problems in the distribution chain,” Myers said. “Touchless Menu easily solves that problem. It allows them to update their menu almost in real time. If they run out of chicken, they can remove chicken. If the price of bacon goes up, they can modify the price right on the menu.”
Printed menus are expensive and when there are changes, there’s waste because the outdated menus have to be thrown out.
“This solves those problems for a very inexpensive price,” Myers said. Millennials especially like the environmentally-friendly aspect of Touchless Menu, he said.
One local restaurant that has implemented Touchless Menu is Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill in the EDGE District.
“Guests need to feel safe and comfortable in coming back to our restaurants,” owner Mark Ferguson said in a statement. “Many of my guests feel more comfortable using their personal devices rather than touching a physical menu. Touchless Menu encourages a comfortable experience.”
Touchless Menu is available to any restaurant, including those that are not already GoZone customers. Existing customers get the service for free, while those that are not currently customers and only want Touchless Menu pay a $149 annual charge.
Touchless Menu is a predecessor to GoZone’s core business, which is collecting customer data and identifying who is using a merchants’ WiFi, so the merchant can target offers and promotions to the customer.
It’s sometimes challenging to explain that to merchants who already have WiFi, Myers said.
“I have to explain that our system collects guest data. We allow you to communicate. We’re a marketing tool,” Myer said. “So this is a predecessor to our core product. Everyone knows what a menu is. It’s easily explained and then we can slowly turn on other benefits, if they choose to, that will help them market their business.”
Many of GoZone’s customers are restaurants, retailers, stadiums and malls that have had business operations restricted because of the Covid-19 crisis. That impacted GoZone WiFi’s revenue as well, Myers said.
“We were able to quickly adapt our expenses around our costs,” he said. “We haven’t lost many clients. We put some customers on pause while they work through this.”
Myers moved GoZone WiFi to St. Petersburg from south Florida about three years ago, and he is a big fan of the city’s entrepreneurial business climate.
“Touchless Menu was born and bred here,” he said. “I think we were the first ones to have anything like this. It just goes to show how St. Petersburg and the businesses here are very innovative.”