The paperless kitchen – how an integrated KMS can streamline operations and enhance customer experience.
Your kitchen is the nerve centre of your hospitality business. No hospitality business can operate without a kitchen to prepare meals for your customers – whether they’re eating them in your restaurant or in their own home; whether your kitchen is in the restaurant, or whether you operate a ‘dark kitchen’ offsite. The way your kitchen is run can have a direct impact on two of the key drivers of success in hospitality – customer satisfaction and cost efficiency.
In simple terms, your kitchen’s job is to get the right orders to the right customers at the right time. But it’s not always simple to get right. There are speedbumps and hassles that get in the way of efficient kitchen management. It’s always been difficult, but with the dramatic increase in online ordering, collection and delivery, getting kitchen management right is now a whole lot harder, with the same team potentially having to juggle getting meals to eat-in diners, with preparing dishes for customers who are coming in to collect, and orders to be picked up by delivery drivers.
Some of the issues that your kitchen might be facing include:
- Lost orders – orders written on paper can, and all too often do, go missing.
- Inaccurate orders – kitchen staff can’t read a hand-written order, or online orders come in on a separate terminal and have to be rekeyed, introducing the possibility of human error.
- Getting multiple dishes to the table at the same time – if your kitchen is not operating efficiently, one or more diners in a group can be left waiting, which is never conducive to a positive customer experience.
- Making most efficient use of staff – if workloads aren’t managed, some of the staff may have little to keep them busy, whilst others are really under the pump.
- Getting take-away orders ready at the right time – without clear information for kitchen staff about the time that the order is needed, you risk having either the food or the customer sitting around.
How does an integrated kitchen management system help?
A KMS shows your kitchen staff what customers have ordered and helps them to get the right food out at the right time. You might know it as a bump screen, or a kitchen display system (KDS). An integrated KMS, or paperless kitchen does more than that though – it also links to all the other systems in your business, to make the kitchen visible to, and visible from your other operational functions.
So let’s take a look at the way an integrated KMS can help drive customer satisfaction and process efficiency.
- Orders sent direct from POS to kitchen – an integrated KMS will send orders directly from your POS to the kitchen, eliminating the risk of lost dockets. Your wait staff enter the order into the POS (or customers order via a tablet at the table), and instantly it’s displayed on the screens in front of kitchen staff.
- No rekeying – with an integrated platform, online orders come straight into the POS and through to the KMS, ensuring that they are always 100% as the customer placed them.
- Categorisation of order types – you can configure an integrated KMS to clearly show the different order types – dine in, pickup, delivery. They can be colour coded for rapid identification by your kitchen staff, with the collection times clearly shown for prioritisation.
- Automatic passing between stations – if you have multiple stations in your kitchen, a good KMS will automatically pass the order along between them, streamlining your meal preparation process. For example, once the steak is cooked, the order is passed to the dressing station. The right staff member gets the right information at the right time, and the meal is prepared efficiently.
- Load balancing – if you have a large kitchen with multiple stations doing the same function, it’s important to ensure that one station isn’t overworked whilst another has little to do. Rather than relying on staff to manage this manually between them, the right KMS will balance the workload for you, making the best use of staff time, and reducing bottlenecks and delays in getting food out.
- Print dockets – if your collection and delivery orders need to go out with a printed docket, a good ‘paperless kitchen’ can produce paper when needed, with automatic printing for take-away orders only.
- If you’ve got customers and delivery drivers waiting for orders, giving them real-time information about the status of their meal can really enhance their experience. So an integrated KMS will link to front of house digital signage, with icons for the different integration partners, order number (and/or customer name) and the status of the order.
- QR code to scan orders as they are collected – an integrated KMS allows you to link to a ‘proof of collection’ system, where each order has a QR code printed with it, which is scanned when the delivery partner collects it. That allows you to provide real-time information back to online ordering customers, letting them know their meal has been collected and will be with them soon.
Your kitchen is the heart of your business – and the way it operates makes a tangible impact on your success. With an integrated kitchen management system like Redcat, you can ensure that your kitchen staff are operating like a well-oiled cog, efficiently producing meals for eat-in customers, collection or delivery. An integrated KMS connects your kitchen to the rest of your business, including front of house and even customers waiting at home, allowing you operate at maximum efficiency, and to ensure that every single customer gets the meal they ordered, at the time they want it.