An off-premise dining strategy is crucial to a modern restaurant's success. Multiple studies continually prove that as these options increase, more and more guests will order their food from an off-premise location for delivery or pickup than dine in-house. It affords them convenience, and the opportunity to place an order without leaving the house—much needed for their unpredictable schedules. The trend will only continue across all restaurant sectors as well.
To capitalize on this drift in consumer behavior, restaurant operators should turn to their technology, and its automated capability, to handle the alternating streams of traffic. While it can be tempting to consider the point-of-sale system as your "first line" in an off-premise strategy, your kitchen display system will be a much better fit in routing those orders.
Why? Though your POS may seem like the device in your restaurant that kick-starts the order process in your restaurant, a POS-generated pickup quote is only so accurate. In other words, the POS cannot actually "detect" the current workload in the kitchen, and will create order quotes based on predetermined parameters—not real-time activity. Subsequently, these ambiguous quote times can create bottlenecks in your workflow, especially when your in-house action ramps up. If your POS is quoting off-premise dining customers a pre-established quote time of 15 minutes, and suddenly your dine-in traffic explodes, you find yourself scrambling to stay true to that quote time.
Alternatively, consider the way your back-of-house technology works. A KDS with dynamic quoting features can "read" the workload of the kitchen (based on order volume) and, when integrated with your POS will generate pickup times to reflect that. If your kitchen is busy, it "pads" off-premise orders to account for the rush, without diminishing this guest's experience in a process known as “order throttling.” Off-premise guests receive a time to pick up their order, reflective of the kitchen workload, while in-house operations carry on as usual. In other words, the KDS takes a "reading" of the kitchen before communicating with the POS, which in turn creates an accurate quote for the off-premise customer. Since the kitchen "knows," to granular detail, when to course these orders (led by automation!), guests receive their entrees hot and fresh. Guest satisfaction improves, both on and off-premise.
Consider also the power of integration between a KDS and your front of house solution. The KDS provides the host with real-time order updates on carryout tickets, allowing them to stay up front to greet guests instead of running back and forth to check if and when orders are ready. The automation removes the guesswork, and your workflow stays on track.
That's not to mention the efficiency gains as well. When you're running a fully connected kitchen, one with integrated technology on every front (BOH, FOH, POS), you virtually optimize every single order to the minute-by-minute factors going on in your restaurant at that time. Your technology picks up on any changes in that kitchen dynamic, at the moment, and updates all quoting and coursing in conjunction.
Ultimately, by anchoring your off-premise efforts to a KDS and it's smart capabilities, you will cut ticket times, seamlessly manage your traffic and bring more profit and guest satisfaction to your operation. That's a smart restaurant.
Lee Leet is the founder, president, and CEO of QSR Automations, a leader in restaurant technology. Since 1996, Leet has driven QSR’s strategy and growth, creating industry solutions and advancing the original company mission of restaurant innovation and empowerment. Under Leet’s leadership, QSR has created ConnectSmart Kitchen, a kitchen automation solution, and DineTime, a guest management platform, to help restaurants efficiently manage their resources, time, staff, and the dining experience. Prior to his role at QSR, Leet served in engineering consulting roles for KFC, successfully leading the team that converted the company’s back-of-house application.