Speed is of the essence. Never has that phrase been so relevant to people and brands in food service industries. With less staff available, fewer tables due to social distancing and pressure to drive revenue, companies are focused on finding ways to speed up service, without compromising the customer experience.
The problem is that working at greater speed often does impact quality of food and service as staff cut corners in order to achieve their targets.
Add a drive thru or kerbside delivery
Bricks and mortar are not flexible. While extensions can be built, day-by-day the number of tables that can be served will always be limited by the size of the premises. That’s the greatest benefit of offering an off-premises service such as drive thru.
A smart drive thru offers a fresh opportunity for brands to sell to passing traffic. Without tables or the need to be waited on, customer wait times are dramatically reduced, while serving operations are streamlined. Of course, not all businesses have the space to install a drive thru lane. For them, kerbside delivery and drive-up ordering can have similar benefits; all that is needed is a safe parking spot.
Whether a business chooses a drive-thru operation or kerbside, the result is the same, a significant increase in speed and potential average daily order numbers.
Make use of data to forecast
We always encourage customers to make use of the data they’re collecting on their customers, their operations and sales. That data can be applied in numerous ways to enhance their business operations, for restaurants it can be used to spot ordering/menu trends.
By plotting data points alongside real-world events – the weather, sports, national holidays – or even days of the week – a brand can gain insight into how items will perform when similar circumstances rise again. Armed with that knowledge, staff can better prepare for an upcoming service, assembling the elements of dishes forecast to be popular that day in advance, and saving time during busy service periods.
Brands might also consider using data to slim down their menu. Removing less popular items and reducing the number of dishes the kitchen has to make can significantly improve service speed.
Invest in the right kitchen automation technology
Kitchen automation software offers brands data on their average ticket times, item times, and cooking delay times, as well as other information. With that analysis to hand, managers can more easily examine kitchen output and spot areas for refinement.
Furthermore, the software prevents there being any miscommunication between staff in the kitchen. Everyone received the correct information for their station and knows what they need when they need it. This gives prevents distractions and allows the team to focus on cooking, not on listening.
Streamline on-site ordering
Order-to-table and payment technologies are a simple and easy way to save time by removing elements of the customer’s face-to-face service. Rather than waiting for physical menus to be presented, for staff to come and take orders, or for the bill and then change to be brought over, everything can be managed by the customer online. That means no waiting on their part, and the ability to stand up and leave as soon as the meal has been finished.
Because order-to-table is a digital ordering technology, it also removes the potential for server error. When the customer places an order, it appears exactly as made in the kitchen – there’s no more time wasted by servers having to double check orders, return unwanted dishes or chase up orders that have been left off manually recorded order slips.
If the layout of a dining area is chaotic, then movement through it will be slow and awkward. While randomly placed tables might be aesthetically pleasing to some, having rows, with clear paths and enough space between seats can massively ease the flow of traffic. You might also want to consider table shape. Square tables are more space-efficient and can be pushed together to accommodate larger groups.
Decoration, again, is important for atmosphere, but where possible, excess furniture should be removed. Large floor lamps can be replaced by wall or overhead lighting and sculptures replaced with wall art.
As a final point, be strategic about your placement of customers and their parties. If you are able to distribute larger groups evenly amongst serving sections, the job of your waiting staff will be greatly eased.
Speed has never been more important for a business, but while brands should be looking at ways to streamline their customer operations, they should never lose sight of the customer experience. It is that which will bring guest back again and again and keep the revenue flowing in.