Sick of calling up a landline and talking to real human beings when you need a table reservation? Or dealing with a bustling restaurant’s flashing, vibrating hockey-puck-pager when you have a sophisticated handset in your pocket?
So are the founders of OnDeq, a Detroit-based startup that’s leveraging its founders’ experience in food services to create a mobile table reservation system they think will appeal even to the frantic community of restauranteurs and wait staff. They’re acutely aware that if the platform complicates processes at an eatery even slightly, its traction will be undermined in the fast-paced business.
“Because a couple of us have previously been in the restaurant industry we understand and appreciate how chaotic it can be,” said co-founder Al Mansour, who has worked in restaurants as well as a family-owned deli. “We tried to take that into account with our initial idea and wanted to focus on keeping the simplicity of the classic pager system but upgrade the technology and improve upon the user experience.”
Host and wait staff interface the device using a tablet; customers can use the app to reserve seats and to check the wait time. Grabowski, who jokingly compared his experience in the restaurant industry to the bawdy comedy film Waiting, says it was his own term of service in food that set the standards he wants OnDeq to uphold.
“I spent my formative years working in restaurants as everything from a bus boy to managing a bar and grill,” Gudowski said. “Happy customers are repeat customers. And repeat customers come in on your not so busy days to help you keep steady business.”
OnDeq is not the first attempt to solve table reservations with a smartphone app. The well-received OpenTable, for example, is available for Android and iOS and now runs at 25,000 restaurants in the United States and Canada.
The OnDeq team, though, says that the app’s focus on analytics will set it apart from other pager replacement systems – a confidence their betting on with a freemium model that lets restaurants pay extra for advanced detailed statistics.
“From a restaurant management perspective, there are always things you wish you could know or do differently, but the information isn’t available,” Gudowski said. “This app allows the business to track things that you couldn’t before. You can plan better, forecast more easily, and keep track of your repeat customers.”
The project is currently bootstrapped, though the founders are considering seeking outside investment, and are accepting applications for beta testers.
Images: Morguefile, OnDeq