All too often, restaurants overlook the KPIs specific to kitchen workflows and behind-the-scenes efficiency. Typically, restaurants are quick to jump at using new technologies on the customer-facing side of the business – but hesitant to incorporate digital tools on the other side of the counter. That’s where TASK’s US Vice President of Business Development, Trevor Dee, says that businesses are missing huge opportunities.
Trevor explains just how important it is for businesses to take advantage of kitchen management technology alongside developments in customer service. “Technologies such as restaurant inventory management and kitchen management software are so much more than just cost-saving mechanisms. They help optimize your restaurant from the inside out, helping reduce stress and responsibility for staff while also carving out simple and effective ways to curb costs.”
To break down just how valuable management software is, and where analyzing KPIs could help improve your restaurant and boost profits, let’s look at the top pain points restaurants often feel when it comes to kitchen operations.
Substantial dependency on staff
There is an old and tired assumption that a busy kitchen is a stressful and chaotic workplace. Think of any popular TV show showing the lives of chefs and cooks, and you’ll see weary, overworked staff with not enough management support. Too many orders are coming through, there is a single chef managing too many people at once, and problems seem to crop up everywhere.
Modern automation helps reroute this problematic stereotype and provides a safer, more organized system for workers. Today, kitchen management software offers a better way to streamline operations and tasks as well as prioritize incoming orders with startling efficiency, helping relieve the weight of constant decision-making from individual cooks.
Digital management also helps predict capacity and staff requirements at any given time based on data. This helps ensure that the right amount of support is rostered at the right time.
Managing inventory and stock with guesswork
Nearly 2.5 billion tons of food is wasted every year, worth about $1 trillion worldwide. Trying to eliminate waste in commercial kitchens has long been a topic of interest – but with 72 percent of customers now reporting high levels of awareness for food waste, it’s never been more important for brands to find better solutions.
Gaps in tracking, human error, inconsistencies between staff members, and turnovers are all common causes of inventory mistakes.
“There is simply no reason that restaurants should be over-stocking or under-stocking with the technology available today,” says Trevor. “Inventory management software allows businesses to easily track their entire stock in real-time. A connected digital ecosystem means that when a customer asks for no egg on their burger at a self-order kiosk, that egg is still accounted for in the remaining stock. The accuracy is exceptional.”
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Weak performance tracking
Many restaurants, especially if they are already stretched thin without enough staff, struggle to keep up with manually measuring and comparing performance in the kitchen, at the counter, or with new sales metrics.
There are simply too many factors to consider when it comes to collecting data, and not enough administrative support to make it viable. What that means for restaurants is a lack of awareness about how they are tracking, which initiatives are working, and where changes should be implemented. There is also no way to see whether staff are performing well, and what could be improved to help them work more efficiently.
TASK’s President of North America, John Laporte, explains, “The entire industry is looking for ways to save labor and increase productivity – but that doesn’t just happen. Technology and new tools are helping tackle this problem, and there are going to be even more advances to help staff coming to us in the future.”
Overwhelming use of legacy systems
Many brands are experiencing frustration with their current digital system because it is too disjointed and clunky to use. “Restaurant legacy systems are often built with too many incompatible pieces of technology that don’t effectively talk to one another,” according to John.
The result is a complicated interface that is difficult for new staff to learn, hard to manage, and nearly impossible to integrate completely. This often leads to data silos, wasted time fixing and responding to problems, and lots of back-and-forth between multiple vendors.
Many leading restaurants are overcoming this problem by turning to single-solution technology providers and investing in a fully integrated technology stack.
Inept menu engineering
Building a streamlined, intuitive menu interface is crucial to enticing bigger orders from your customers. To figure out whether your menu is engineered effectively, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have the capability to change your menu items in real-time?
- Are you able to adjust pricing across all touchpoints simultaneously?
- Are there too few or too many items on your menu, and how are they presented?
- Is your menu interface designed to provide personalization to the customer?
Industry-leading restaurants should have menu engineering capabilities to address all these opportunities. “From how much each ingredient weighs, to how exactly long every burger takes to fry – QSRs should have their entire menu available at their fingertips and ready to change,” says Trevor.
Weak training initiatives
Without adequate kitchen management, restaurants may struggle to consistently and thoroughly train their staff for standard operating procedures (SOPs). They may not have the time or resources to follow through on their training system, or they may lack the tools to follow up on SOPs or provide feedback to improve them.
Kitchen management software helps automate the training process from start to finish, helping ensure that every new employee is given the appropriate level of support and the opportunity to provide feedback about the process. Plus, all that feedback is then tracked and accessible for future development.
Disconnected front, middle, and back offices
“Every channel and every element of your business should be interconnected. Changes in the kitchen or with stock prices should immediately influence pricing shifts or sales tactics. Listening to consumer demands should lead to active and conscious changes in your offerings and marketing,” says Trevor.
Many restaurants struggle to integrate the feedback, data, and learnings from each end of the business, causing mismanagement, slow change implementation, and lost opportunities. Connecting all your digital touchpoints, in-person transactions, your kitchen, and your business teams starts with an integrated technology stack, designed to operate seamlessly throughout your business.
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The Seven Kitchen Management Key Metrics That Restaurants Should Track
To respond to the common challenges often associated with running a busy restaurant operation, businesses should regularly and carefully track and audit these seven key metrics to decide where more support and change is needed.
- Operational efficiency – This includes data such as how much staff time has been logged, the inventory levels, business throughput, and relevant changes in costs. Putting these numbers into context will show businesses how efficient their overall operations are tracking.
- Food-service excellence – To take a closer look at how your service and food quality is holding up, businesses should compare inventory costs with item prices as well as menu changes and food wastage. Food-service excellence will indicate whether more effort needs to go into the preparation, sourcing, or delivery of orders to customers.
- Staff satisfaction – Since the Great Resignation began, this metric has become even more relevant for restaurants. Even if they are not experiencing staff shortages, businesses should keep a careful eye on rates of employee turnover, engagement levels among teams, and incoming feedback from staff members.
- Customer satisfaction – Measuring customer satisfaction can be a tricky and complex KPI to assess. Businesses can start by looking at customer retention rates, as well as loyalty sign-ups to get a better picture of how effective their service is at attracting and sticking customers.
- Process optimization – There is always room to make internal management and staff systems more efficient and easier to track. Optimization should start by looking at metrics around training initiatives, feedback from staff, and the rate of success using SOPs.
- Profitability – Businesses are often motivated to get an accurate sense of how profitable their restaurant is performing. Tracking data around margins, sales, revenue, and cost changes lays the foundation for understanding where your profitability stands.
- Service growth – An often-overlooked metric, service growth is crucial to understanding whether your new initiatives, offers, and tactics are working in your favor. Any new menu item, service, digital channel, or marketing campaign should be carefully measured and weighed against other indicators for an accurate picture of your service growth and impact.
How a Kitchen Management Platform Can Help
The best way to ensure accurate, consistent, and real-time data collection is with a fully integrated kitchen management platform. This type of software from TASK can integrate with existing restaurant systems, or become part of a single solution POS technology stack.
Kitchen management platforms are designed to:
- Track, measure, and analyze performance and operations
- Streamline reporting and reflections around customer satisfaction and service metrics
- Provide instant updates and changes for inventory and service conditions
- Support better kitchen efficiency for staff using order management tools, menu engineering, and inventory management technology
To start seeing booming profits, happier staff, and a growing loyal customer base, restaurants first need to look at how their internal operations are being managed, tracked, and consistently improved. That process starts by leveraging digital kitchen management technology to develop an ongoing, accurate image of your key metrics.