Back in the 60s McDonald's did to the restaurant industry, what Henry Ford did to the automobile industry. Their "speedy system" _ a factory floor like kitchen operations heralded the rise of Fast food restaurants. It brought the speed, scalability, reliability, consistency and efficiency of an automobile factory assembly line, to McDonald's kitchen operations.
Here's a featurette about "speedy system" from the movie "The Founder", a biopic of McDonald's founders.
Getting the food in front of the customer as quickly as possible is the key ingredient of a restaurant experience. Of course quality, taste, branding, location and other factors are equally important, but lack of speed in kitchen operations cuts your legs out from under you. The speedy system is the cornerstone on which McDonald's built the world's most popular restaurant brand ever.
It's the peak business hours at your restaurant, and your staff are submerged neck-deep in orders.
Your staff rely on kitchen order tickets(KOT) printed on paper slips, to convey order items from the point of sale(POS) to the kitchen.
A waiter runs these tickets from reception to various countertops inside the kitchen like the salad station, the fry cook, the burger grill and so on. The cook clips these KOTs to some hook and starts preparing the orders.
Your kitchen already looks like a battle zone. The grill cook with gloves on his hands is struggling to manage these paper tickets and to prioritise them on a "first come first serve" basis. Amidst this chaos, a whist of wind blew away one of the paper KOTs.
Meanwhile, there are 4 completed orders sitting at the fry cook's counter, which are yet to be picked up because the waiter cannot hear him over the noise of the blender at the milkshake counter. The countertop is beginning to get cluttered. All other counters in the kitchen are getting overwhelmed similarly and delays ensue.
For online orders, the completed items are being brought back to reception where they are assembled and packaged. Once all the items in an order are ready the receptionist/operator is supposed to mark "food ready", but she's not marking them. She's swamped between printing KOTs, handling walk-in customers and dealing with dispatchers.
And here are the consequences...
By this time your walk-in customers are already getting disappointed with the service due to delays.
At least with walk-ins, you get to have an in-person interaction to ease out the customer's concerns, but online ordering is whole another ball game.
For online orders, your restaurant doesn't get paid a dime for the order cancellations unless they are marked "food ready" before the order is cancelled. Since the store manager is busy juggling between printing KOTs, handling walk-in customers and co-ordinating with waiters, she's marking food ready only for a fraction of orders that too with a lot of delays. So you're losing money.
Remember the whist of wind that blew away a paper ticket near the fry cook's counter, that item gets prepared only after the delivery boy reaches the store. The customer receives the order 30 minutes later than the delivery time promised to him.
Since the customer will blame the aggregator platform for the delay, the platform's algorithms will penalise your restaurant by reducing your visibility in searches and increasing the estimated delivery time for your restaurant. Hungry customers want to have their cravings satisfied sooner than later and will browse past your restaurant due to longer delivery estimates.
Don't forget those 4 completed orders that were sitting at the counter for a long time, because the waiter couldn't hear that they were ready, over the blender noise. Customer's who received those orders felt, the food was stale. Some customers gave your restaurant bad ratings and others demanded a refund from the aggregator platform. Again the algorithm gods on aggregator platforms penalise your restaurant and your sales start to slump.
Which of these restaurants would you prefer to order from ?
What's the root cause of this chaos and slump in your operations?
The current system of printed KOTs (kitchen order tickets) and manually moving them across the kitchen floor is archaic. It hampers your ability to grow your business and scale up your operations. It makes your kitchen floor chaotic and a perfect setup for disasters to occur.
So what's the antidote to the chaos of printed KOTs?
A Kitchen Display System!
A kitchen display system (KDS) that automatically routes the items in an order received at Point of Sale at reception (both online and in-store orders), to display screens placed at various countertops in your kitchen. It removes the need for printers to print the tickets and a waiter/server to run the tickets across your kitchen floor.
The minute an order lands in your point of sale, it's conveyed right away to the cooks in the kitchen. Similarly the minute a cook marks an order ticket complete, it's conveyed to the waiter for pickup. In the case of online orders, it even marks the order "food ready", once all the items in the corresponding order are marked complete by kitchen staff.
UrbanPiper is launching a KDS product of its own called "COOKBOOK". It works seamlessly with our "Prime" point of sale and runs on any device capable of running an Android or iOS app. Cookbook brings the power of UrbanPiper's product suite right into your kitchen operations.
Here are the benefits of UrbanPiper's CookBook KDS over the printed KOT system.
Improved staff productivity
Your chefs can view the open tickets on a digital screen, pre-sorted based on when the order was placed. When there's a timer next to each ticket, cooks are motivated to work faster. Once the item is prepared they can simply mark the ticket complete, instead of hollering at the waiter, over the cacophony of a super busy kitchen.
Boost "Mark food ready" efficiency
For online orders, once the last item in the order is marked as complete by the chef at the countertop, it automatically conveys "food ready" to the aggregator. This means you get a full/partial payout even if the order gets cancelled by the customer from this point. Also, the order gets delivered quickly to the customer and the aggregator platform algorithms improve your standing amongst the other restaurants competing with you. You also get positive reviews, left by satisfied customers.
Operational efficiency dashboard on Atlas
Benefit from economies of scale
Clubbing similar items from different orders and preparing in bulk saves a lot of time. Imagine your chefs boiling veggies individually for every order they got for a clear soup. If the chef had the information that there are 10 more orders for the same item in the queue, he would have saved so much time. CookBook does just that. Your chef can easily filter out by item and see how many quantities of an item are currently ordered and the preparation can be done accordingly.
Quality control and performance monitoring
The CookBook will be a great source for tracking the performance of every team member. The average preparation time of orders handled by each individual and a complete timeline of each order's preparation and who worked on it will help you identify bottlenecks in your kitchen operations.
Investing in a Kitchen Display system
In the case of UrbanPiper's KDS Cookbook, other than the cost of display screens for countertops, it's not a costly upgrade from your current system. Offset this cost with ink cartridges, paper rolls for printers and waiters conveying KOTs from reception to kitchen counters. Not to mention the opportunity cost of your restaurant's reputation being damaged by botched kitchen operations.
"Speedy system" required McDonald's to use custom made kitchen equipment, all the way from the grill, to the ketchup dispenser. They had to rehearse staff movements and create kitchen floor plans that reduce collisions. All of this meant a lot of upfront cost and effort, but that's what it takes for a business to stand apart from the crowd.
In an industry where everyone is so carefully reinventing themselves, it's necessary to make investments that improves your operational efficiency even marginally.
An investment into a Kitchen Display System like UrbanPiper's Cookbook, will give significant returns to your business, both by improving your customer experience and employee efficiency.