October 23, 2020
Is it time to change your operations? 
Is it time to change your operations? 

If you want to be successful in this new, socially distant and digital world, it might be time to change your operations.  

With the adoption of online ordering technology – either for ordering ahead collection and delivery, or on-site ordering and payment, comes a need to adapt your preparation space, update staff roles and training and rearrange on-site layout to optimize traffic flow. 

One of the great benefits of online ordering is that it leads to a growth in revenue with an expanded customer base as well as a larger spend per customer. While an increase in sales is great, you’ll need to consider how you are going to manage this while keeping customer interactions streamlined.  

If you’re going to offer an order ahead for collection service, for example, points you should consider include: Should you create a separate area for mobile/online collection? What will this look like, can it be shelves or does the food need heating or cooling? Do you need a separate area of the kitchen be dedicated to prepping and packaging pre-orders? Depending on order volume, tracking and managing customer communication of pre-orders can itself be a material operational adjustment that needs to be thoroughly planned. Who is going to do this?  

To help plan your operations update, here are five areas we suggest you review: 

Staff numbers  

Keep a close eye on staffing to make sure that your employees can handle any extra workload that might arise out of taking online orders. Depending on your business, you might need to assign extra staff members to preparation during busy periods.  

Whether you’ve added order ahead, order-to-table or both, staff training is critical. Your staff remain the face and voice of the operation and will be both preparing the food and continuing to interact with customers who place digital orders. 

Delivery/Collection zones  

If serving food for takeout, clear an area behind the counter currently occupied by non-essential equipment to create a dedicated staging area for packaging delivery orders.  

Alternatively, this can be managed in the kitchen. You might even want to create a ‘ordering command center’ during busy delivery times. Here, a dedicated person can manage the computers and tablets intercepting orders and entering them into the restaurant’s POS system (if it isn’t already integrated).  

If you’re offering an on-site ordering experience, should the customer collect their prepared food from a counter to prevent any staff interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic? Alternatively, can staff continue to deliver food to the table while observing social distancing?  

Test your service in real-time, internally.  

Dummy-runs help you and the wider staff understand the various elements of the digital service 

Test runs identify the weak areas in your digital operation so you can iron out issues in advance of any public launch. At this stage, you should involve employees and get their fresh perspective of the platform – this can provide you with a fresh viewpoint. You can expect the most authentic feedback from your employees, this, in turn, can foster good relations between management and employees. 

Layout  

With an increase in digital orders, your point-of-sale layout may need to be adjusted. For a bar or cafe, this might require having a dedicated collection area. In a restaurant, it could mean less tables and larger pick-up areas – something that fits neatly in this current world of social distancing.  

For particularly busy restaurants, forecourts or fast-food venues, it could mean aligning kitchen equipment differently and creating digital ordering parking spaces to ensure customers can get in and out, as quickly as possible.  

Customer prioritization  

Proper wait list management is essential for reducing walkaways. Because loyal customers bring in most of your business, it’s important to prioritize these customers by minimizing their wait times and engaging them while they wait – whether they’ve ordered in a traditional manner or through your digital service. 

No customer wants to feel demoted because they haven’t ordered through an online system. Proper wait list management will ease congestion, keep traffic flowing smoothly in and out of your business, and most importantly, add more revenue to your bottom line. You might want to limit the number of digital orders that can be taken for each collection time slot to keep in-store traffic flowing. 

In changing your operations, there will be other points to consider, including signage and communication, however the above points form a strong base from which to build operations that enable your business to operate smoothly in this digital – and socially distant age. 

Contact us if you’re interested online ordering technology and how it can enhance your business operations.  

Felicity Williamson

Marketing Executive