Order accuracy can cause many problems for restaurants. There’s the time and expense of discarding improperly prepared items and providing replacements to customers free of charge. There’s also the potential for lost business when customers question servers’ competency to take orders and kitchen staffs’ ability to properly fill them. Not to mention, pressure to correct mistakes can cause disruption in the kitchen. Fortunately, there are ways to increase order accuracy and prevent these issues. Consider these three ideas:
1. Require staff to repeat customers’ orders.
This seems like a no-brainer; however, not every restaurant has this policy. Whether you operate a restaurant that offers table or counter service, instruct servers and counter attendants to automatically repeat orders back to guests for verification. If your restaurant accepts telephone orders for pickup or delivery, train the individuals who take these orders to do the same. This simple solution allows the guest to confirm that the order is correct before it’s sent to the kitchen.
2. Simplify your menu and limit substitutions.
Menus with cute, quirky dish names; long lists of meal options; and very minimal descriptions of individual items can confuse customers, interfering with order accuracy. For maximum clarity — and minimal mistakes — pare down menus. Give dishes simpler names and include a description of exactly what is included. The more straightforward your menu, the easier it will be for customers to understand and the greater the likelihood servers will remember orders correctly.
Similarly, while allowing some substitutions is fine, moderation is key to order accuracy. Your kitchen staff is likely to make mistakes when handling six different ingredient substitutions for one dish, requested by customers at multiple tables.
3. Implement a mobile point of sale (POS) solution for tableside ordering.
A lapse in time from when an order is taken to when it’s transmitted to the kitchen can negatively impact order accuracy. There can be as much as a 10-minute time period between order-taking and the moment servers enter orders into a central terminal or walk them to the kitchen. Interruptions during that time only increase the potential for order input errors.
A mobile POS solution eliminates this problem. With mobile POS, the order is entered tableside, as soon as it’s given to the server. Also, if a customer changes his or her mind, the information can be transmitted immediately to the kitchen.
In addition, if a customer has a question about the ingredients in a particular menu item, the server can find the answer by looking it up on the mobile device to provide the most granular order accuracy. This ensures that the kitchen staff will be informed up front that they need to omit an ingredient that the customer dislikes or cannot consume because of allergies.
Mobile POS solutions integrated with a kitchen display system (KDS) or printed out using a kitchen printer make the process even more efficient — kitchen staff can easily read orders and won’t make mistakes associated with trying to interpret handwritten order tickets.
Offering the right menu items is only part of the battle when it comes to minimizing ingredient waste and ensuring customer satisfaction. Order accuracy plays an equally important role in operating a successful, profitable business.