In a market more competitive than most, you look to leverage every advantage in providing the best possible restaurant experience. But it’s time to think beyond commercial kitchen deep cleaning and delivering exceptional service. From streamlining operations and keeping food safe and delicious to staffing appropriately, advances in commercial kitchen technology can help.
“The same technology is transforming industries across the industrial spectrum is doing the same for restaurants,” says business and technology trends expert and keynote speaker Daniel Levine. “Robotics, artificial intelligence, tracking systems of all kinds … restaurants and food service operations that can afford it are implementing it in many ways that are both obvious and not to consumers.”
So, how is technology changing the way restaurants do business?
Scheduling is a time-consuming balancing act for many restaurant managers. Too few workers can affect service and food quality as well as your restaurant cleaning ability, while too many can cause you to overspend on labor. And chronic scheduling mistakes can make employees unhappy, leading to higher turnover.
Employee scheduling platforms and software free up time spent poring over schedules, and they can automate schedule changes and time-off requests. According to Hospitality Technology’s 2018 Restaurant Technology Study, 32 percent use workforce and labor management software and another 9 percent plan to add it this year. They can also help you determine optimal staffing levels at various times of the day and week, making your restaurant more efficient.
On the inventory side, it’s never a good experience when a guest is craving a favorite dish only to find out that your restaurant has run out. Every time an order can’t be filled because of missing ingredients, the restaurant loses money and customer goodwill.
Automated inventory management tracks items received and sales analytics over time. By applying data solutions to your restaurant’s trends, these commercial kitchen technology solutions help you determine when it’s time to reorder various ingredients and supplies and prompt you to do so. These solutions also help prevent food waste by helping restaurants better track inventory levels of perishable items so they can be used before they spoil, ultimately saving money.
Customers are increasingly comfortable with self-serve stations, tabletop devices and apps when ordering and paying for food, Levine says. On-site orders may be placed through a kiosk or table tablet that also acts as a payment terminal. Order accuracy is improved, and the need to print menus is eliminated.
Device-powered ordering and payment are becoming more popular with customers who crave convenience, Levine says. A December 2018 report on Forbes.com reports on the rise of “ghost restaurants” that operate with a kitchen and delivery service. They order the food through an app like Seamless or Grubhub, and it’s delivered — no retail location required. Even fine dining restaurants are expanding their takeout business by partnering with delivery services like Uber Eats.
“Smart equipment” is increasingly important in commercial kitchen technology and can vastly improve food quality and safety while reducing waste. Cooktop, refrigeration and other sensors can ensure that food is being stored and cooked at proper temperatures. If the temperature is insufficient, an app can notify managers or kitchen staff that the temperature needs to be adjusted or a repair needs to be made.
Exceptional guest experiences require good communication, especially between the front and back of the house, Levine says. And commercial kitchen technology tools can help. A robust point-of-sale (POS) system is the backbone of any restaurant’s communication. The 2018 Restaurant Technology Study found that the top three must-haves in a POS system include customer relationship management (CRM) and loyalty program management, loss prevention and mobile payment options, which are increasing in popularity.
The kitchen staff needs to do more than just cooking and commercial kitchen deep cleaning. They need to communicate with servers and managers if issues arise, such as delays and out-of-stock menu items, so they may manage customer expectations. Headsets and ear pieces can facilitate this communication. If the restaurant has a drive-through option, high-quality drive-thru headsets should also be a priority to improve customer experience.
Learn more about 3M Drive-Thru Solutions, including durable headsets, communications accessories and components, depot repair, and our national service network.
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