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When handwritten orders on paper tickets are misread, errors are inevitable.

How Going Paperless Improves Restaurant Kitchen Management

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A KDS simplifies and optimizes communication between front- and back-of-house staff
By Pascal Nicholas February 2019 Expert Insights

Staying competitive in the restaurant industry requires near constant innovation. Restaurant owners and operators have felt mounting pressure to reduce costs, increase profits, and optimize workflow.

Fortunately, restaurant technology keeps up with the demand for innovative, convenient solutions that pave the way for restaurant operators to grow their business. This constant drive for innovation allows restaurants to implement better, more reliable solutions than ever before. One major technology solution that has captured the interest of restaurant owners across the board is the kitchen display system (KDS).

A KDS simplifies and optimizes communication between front- and back-of-house staff. It is responsible for sending orders to the correct food prep stations, and alerting the kitchen staff when orders are taking too long. It also allows kitchen staff to see how many of each dish needs to be made and improves efficiency by empowering staff to make the same dishes all at one time, rather than printed-ticket by printed-ticket. The KDS has proven itself to be a valuable asset time and time again, and the benefits of shifting to a paperless system are numerous:

It eliminates the middle man

The primary purpose of a KDS is to send orders directly to the kitchen, but many restaurant owners overlook the importance of this simple act. Handwritten orders have a way of getting lost, not making it to the correct prep station, and causing errors from illegible handwriting.

Advanced technology gives the kitchen staff the power to easily prioritize and organize.

Paper tickets make it difficult for the kitchen to accomplish this, which ends up causing staff to fulfill orders in a disorganized fashion. The KDS, however, displays every incoming order clearly and in the correct priority. If orders need to be changed after being sent, front of house staff can edit orders and include additional instructions if needed. This ensures that information is communicated effectively to the correct station and everyone is on the same page.

A KDS helps streamline prep stations

Even if the kitchen staff is organized, it takes time to determine what orders take longer to fulfill and need to be bumped to a higher priority, and additional time to communicate that information to everyone in the kitchen.  In a busy restaurant environment, this can cause significant chaos and confusion, especially when it comes to larger, more complicated orders.

A KDS, however, can easily organize incoming orders by priority and send them to the correct prep stations. All of the information for every order is clearly displayed, so staff knows what to start preparing and if any orders need to be modified.

When serving customers in a busy restaurant, especially when large parties are being served, it’s important to ensure the orders timed appropriately, so that food doesn’t get over or under cooked. It’s critical to ensure all guests receive fresh orders that haven’t been sitting around getting cold while their companions’ food is being prepared. Having an organized system that can streamline the process helps ensure every guest has the correct order, prepared to their liking, in a timely manner.

A KDS tracks order fulfillment times

Paper tickets make it virtually impossible to accurately estimate the time it takes to fulfill orders. The lack of available information makes it difficult to streamline restaurant operations and determine whether the kitchen staff is hitting the right benchmarks. In a fast-paced environment like a quick-service restaurant, this can be detrimental to the bottom line.

Having a reliable way to track order fulfillment times goes beyond seeing whether the staff is hitting the right benchmarks. It allows managers to identify any bottlenecks. Whether the problem is a few specific orders that are taking more time than previously estimated, or newer staff members that are slowing things down, gaining visibility into these areas of business allows owners and managers to see where the problems are so that they can be fixed.

A KDS may also send customers a test message when their order is marked as ready for pickup. Increasing kitchen to customer transparency and improving the customer experience. 

It reduces food and paper waste

A KDS is excellent in its ability to reduce paper waste, but this technology is surprisingly adept at reducing food waste too. In busy quick-serve restaurants, front-of-house staff members tend to scribble orders and use shorthand so they can quickly move onto the next customer. While effective at saving time, this can actually cause errors when the kitchen staff receives the ticket, only to find it filled with illegible chicken scratch.

When handwritten orders on paper tickets are misread, errors are inevitable. If this happens with any frequency, it results in large amounts of wasted food. Food waste is one of the major adversaries restaurant owners have to battle, and reducing food waste is easier said than done. It’s possible with a great inventory system, but that’s only half the battle. Reducing food waste also means reducing the errors that can cause food to be wasted. A KDS is remarkably efficient at reducing these errors, with the added benefit of saving time.

Restaurant Kitchen Management

Managing a restaurant kitchen is a multi-faceted, complex task. It requires constant dedication and advanced problem-solving skills. While many struggle to balance tasks while growing business, the most experienced restaurant owners understand that the help provided by restaurant technology is invaluable. It’s impossible to stay successful using outdated methods when the competition is leveraging advanced technology to optimize workflow. Success is found when management is informed, staff is organized, and operations are streamlined. A KDS achieves all three with ease.

Pascal Nicholas created SalesVu after he acquired an Italian restaurant in Austin and could not find a solution that would allow him to manage the business remotely and generate more sales. Being a software engineer at heart, Pascal set on mission to create a revolutionary payment solution that would include remote management and revenue generation capabilities. Prior to founding SalesVu, Pascal worked at Dell as a product manager for a $100M software suite, traveling to large corporate customers and presenting at industry trade shows. Pascal has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and speaks both French and Spanish fluently