Technology is infiltrating almost every component of consumers’ daily lives. Almost one in three Americans owns a tablet and most consumers use their cell phones for searching, shopping, and comparing prices. Quick service restaurants (QSR) have been at the forefront for integrating technology into the service exchange with digital menu boards, kiosks, iPads at tables, and other innovative technologies to engage the customer. Many brands are expanding technology usage even further to employ technologies to use in the kitchen and at the counter to create more efficient operations, increase profits, and further improve the customer experience.
One example of incorporating technology in the restaurant kitchen involves Taco Bueno. Taco Bueno added tablets to its kitchens to include checklists to prepare for rushes and to also push recipes to its line cooks. This keeps chefs from having to memorize recipes and food preparation policies. In addition, the applications on the tablets include videos to be used by kitchen staff to ensure that all food is prepared in a consistent manner across restaurants.
Another QSR chain, Fresh to Order, uses tablets for kitchen display systems as well. Fresh to Order hosts a private intranet on its tablets with recipes, manuals, and specifications for every kitchen, providing instant access for staff. Fresh to Order also uses online ordering at its POS systems to enable guests to order and pay online, offering a seamless to-go order process.
McAlister’s Deli recently experimented with a table-tracking system that allows food runners to know where every guest is seated. This system is meant to replace the antiquated table tent system. The system now uses an RFID system. Every table has a reader under the table. Customers are given a coaster when they are seated. When the customer’s food is ready, the food runner can see exactly where he or she is sitting. This system also helps managers at McAlister’s measure the time it takes for the customer to place the order and receive his/her food.
Integrating more technology, especially tablet based technologies, helps QSR chains increase the flexibility of the ordering process and ensures that customer orders are more accurate and delivered in a more timely fashion.
How are QSR restaurants using technology, specifically tablets, to improve operations?
SOURCE: Keith Loria, QSR Magazine, July, 2013