The tight integration of self-ordering kiosks, tableside tablets and EPOS systems with Kitchen Display Systems (KDS) can keep orders running smoothly and correctly — so long as restaurant owners strike the right balance between human staff and key technologies, writes Jurgen Ketel at Givex.
New technologies are becoming much more intuitive and easier to use, and this means less time and money needs to be spent on staff training.
For example, an advanced kitchen display system can tell chefs exactly what to do and when to do it. A KDS helps, to an extent, to automate the cooking process, which speeds up orders and gets food out faster.
Chefs don’t have to stress about the correct sequence in which to prepare dishes to ensure that everyone at the table gets their order at the same time and at the right temperature.
Advanced KDS systems do all the calculations, giving chefs reliable directions and counting cooking times with greater precision.
These details differ from one restaurant to another, so KDS suppliers need to work closely with clients to programme in all the information that is required. There are clear benefits to this approach. It cuts down on the number of highly trained — and expensive to pay —chefs needed in any one restaurant kitchen.
Restaurants can feel secure in employing more junior staff, mitigate the risk of veteran staff moving on to work elsewhere, and, ultimately, have more freedom to cut down on labour costs where necessary.
Fundamentally, a good KDS also helps to ensure quality consistency across restaurant chains so that, for example, a Big Mac tastes the same from one McDonald’s to the next.
Seamlessly integrated technologies help restaurant staff work as a cohesive team rather than as individuals.
Here’s an example scenario: a customer orders a meal from a self-ordering kiosk, the information is captured in the main EPOS system and KDS, and all staff — from front-of-house to the kitchen — are kept informed on the order without having to chase one another.
All aspects of the restaurant, from the kitchen to front-of-house, work together to deliver a smoother service — and this contributes to a much better experience for dining-in customers.
Technology can’t replace the need for good restaurant staff — it just moves them into different roles. Where EPOS systems and KDS can boost efficiency and accuracy, they can’t see to specific dining needs like extra cutlery, clean tables, lighting and music.
Automating the manual processes of ordering and paying can help a restaurant stay relevant in more ways than one.
All the data that is collected through the ordering technology is hugely valuable for reporting purposes. Management teams can assess which menu items are performing and underperforming, identity key buying trends, and determine if there are any recurring customer requests that should be incorporated into the menu.
A holistic approach combining technology and value-adding services leads to a better customer experience — and this, in turn, is essential for ensuring the future survival of the UK’s restaurant industry.
So, the key takeaway for restaurant owners is to use technology to augment their staff — not replace them.
Jurgen Ketel is managing director EMEA of Givex, a provider of EPOS solutions and management systems to the restaurant, retail and QSR industries. www.givex.com