The axiom used to be that if you owned a restaurant, you had to be there all the time or your profits would be "eaten up." That made the restaurant business a physically grueling one for most small business owners. A 60-, 70- or 80-hour work week was not uncommon.Well, now, mom-and-pop restaurant owners are adopting fingerprint scanning as a way to find some time for themselves, as an article in the Akron Beacon Journal notes (as they say, read the whole thing). This emerging trend among smaller eateries not only lets restaurant owners take a break, but it promises to improve customer service, too. Fingerprint scanning systems:Cut down on buddy punching, i.e., the practice of one employee clocking in for another who isn't there.Automatically enter orders into the computer system, cutting down on mistakes.Speed up orders, leading to happier customers and faster table turns.Require managers to physically process voids and other transactions needing a manager's approval, cutting down on fraud.Surprisingly, it's the small, independently-owned restaurants that are adopting fingerprint scanning technology -- not the national chains. In fact, the distributors of these biometric systems are exclusively marketing to small-restaurant owners:"Steve Pritchard, co-owner of Cash Register Sales Co., said he only markets to small mom-and-pop shops instead of the large national chains, which haven't yet embraced the new technology. But owners of the small restaurants are eager to try the new technology that helps with security, he said.James Coffelt, owner of Business Data Systems, agreed. Small-restaurant owners are very open to the new technology because restaurants are such a labor-intensive business that have a lot of people working in them."Yet another example of small businesses improving and even revolutionizing their operations with technology. Frequently it is larger businesses that are the first to adopt new technologies. One reason is economics. Larger businesses can better afford the investment. But when a technology's productivity value is significant and obvious, small businesses become trendsetters.