How to find the best VoIP for restaurants

Mike Butts profile image November 21, 2023 | 4 min read

You’re running a popular restaurant and, in an era of fickle consumers and flickering bank balances, business is booming. Everybody still needs to eat. When times are tough, people may treat dining out as an escape, rather than opting for a pricey vacation. That’s all good.

But your restaurant phone system is another story. Recently, one of your regular patrons complained that their call was dropped. Someone else said she called and got voicemail at a time when the restaurant was open. For a business that relies on the telephone for reservations and to-go orders, this isn’t good.

Clearly, the phone system you’ve been using for restaurant communications isn’t cutting the mustard. You need a professional phone solution to match the quality of your establishment’s food and service.

Why VoIP beats a traditional business phone service

VoIP is the phone service answer for restaurants. Here’s why:

  • VoIP is often far less expensive than a traditional landline—in many cases, you can cut your monthly phone bill by one-half to two-thirds. Domestic long-distance calls are part of the package, rather than an additional per-minute cost. Even international calls are very inexpensive with VoIP service.
  • VoIP is easy to set up and user friendly.
  • VoIP is portable: You can make calls from any location that has good internet access.
  • Best of all, VoIP offers all sorts of additional features: call queueing, call routing, call recording and filtering, conference call bridges (for when you, your chefs, and your distributors need to discuss seasonal shipment changes, for example), and automated attendants.

It’s the digital age, and VoIP is the wave of the future. So you’re sold on the idea of switching over to VoIP service—but how do you find the right VoIP phone service solution for your restaurant?

Best VoIP for restaurants

The best VoIP for restaurants will help you manage a high volume of calls, build rapport with customers and staff, and provide a stellar dining experience for your guests. All while saving you a bundle on your monthly phone bill.

We, of course, recommend Ooma Office—a top-tier VoIP phone service with more than 50 business features, many of which can be customized to fit the needs of your restaurant. Every year PC Magazine surveys its readers, who have voted Ooma Office as the best business VoIP phone service for 10 years in a row.

How does Ooma Office help the food industry manage calls, take reservations and serve customers better? These are just a few of the features Ooma’s VoIP service provides:

  • Virtual receptionist. A VoIP virtual receptionist will greet callers with a customized message that can answer some of their frequently asked questions, so they never need to speak with a live person. The virtual receptionist can also route calls to extensions or ring groups, and schedule different responses for after hours.
  • Call queuing. With call queuing, you’ll never miss a call and be able to better manage the customer experience—even with heavy call volume. Call queuing places callers into what’s essentially a virtual waiting room that can be enhanced with recorded announcements and music you choose. When the next available agent is ready, your caller is instantly routed on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Overhead paging. A paging system is far classier than a team member shouting, “Order up!”. You can plug an overhead-paging adapter (sold separately) into your existing paging system, then go into your Ooma Office dashboard to set up the Multicast Paging button on your phones. With overhead paging, you can make announcements, find staff members, and easily communicate to your entire establishment when the kitchen has just two pieces left tonight of its award-winning lemon meringue pie.

Case study: The Smokin’ Oak and Red O restaurants

Erick Gill, co-owner of The Smokin’ Oak in Vancouver, Washington, says prior to Ooma Office, the landline at their popular Texas-style barbeque restaurant would often ring busy—or they would lose the call entirely, which frustrated both staff and callers.

Smokin Oak Restaurant - Ooma Customer Video

Gill says Ooma’s virtual receptionist has really helped The Smokin’ Oak by eliminating redundant calls for hours or location, thereby freeing up the phone for more important business, such as calls to the catering department, which go straight to the director’s cell phone. Ooma Office allows the team to focus on customer service for patrons who are currently in the restaurant.

Secondly, call queuing enabled them to ramp up their to-go orders. Previously, landline service allowed the restaurant to take only one to-go order at a time. With call queuing, calls are picked up in the order they’re received, making it easy to answer them efficiently; and the restaurant isn’t losing out on potential business. In fact, Gill reports call queuing has resulted in approximately a 13 percent uptick in to-go sales!

Red O Restaurants had a similarly positive experience with Ooma Office. Jason Miranda, who was the COO of Red O Restaurants, with four southern California locations, explained why Red O switched to Ooma Office. The restaurateur had been noticing expensive monthly phone bills—without the capacity to provide the kind of customer service modern telecommunications offers.

Red O Restaurant - Ooma Customer Video

His in-house IT professional explored Ooma Office and felt it could solve a lot of the issues Red O was experiencing with the outdated landlines. Once Red O installed Ooma Office VoIP, they not only cut phone expenses by two-thirds—they were also delighted to discover they could manage any changes remotely via Ooma’s online portal.

With VoIP, restaurant owners can better control their phone’s bottom line, deliver exceptional customer service—and spend the money saved on other upgrades to their eatery. Bon appétit!

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