Kitchen Automation: 5 Must-Have Modern Features


The kitchen is the heart of a restaurant. It determines the speed of service, and perhaps most importantly, has the strongest relationship with the guest experience. Over the last few years, more restaurants have made the transition from paper tickets to kitchen automation software and have seen reduced ticket times and improved their bottom line.

Kitchen automation has become increasingly important as off-premise dining and delivery demands continue to grow. In order to automate their kitchens, operators are turning to kitchen display systems. In this article, QSR Automations put together a list of future-proof kitchen automation features to keep your restaurant ahead of the curve.

1.) Integrations

First and foremost, you need a back of house solution that integrates with all the devices in your restaurant. You can’t create a well-connected restaurant with technology that doesn’t speak to one another. Modern kitchen automation includes software that connects the front- and back-of-house, as well as offers a multitude of integration options. Having kitchen automation software that has integration partners protects your investment if you ever swap software in your restaurant.

2.) Kitchen Data

Data is essential for creating a smarter, more efficient, and more profitable restaurant. Kitchen display systems are now starting to gather data from every stage of the guest’s dining journey, creating a more personalized experience from the first contact until well after their visit. In turn, operators can use this data to create marketing campaigns and identify bottlenecks. Real-time data gives operators and owners the full scope of kitchen activity so they can make critical business decisions on the fly.

Here are some of the data points you’ll see in kitchen automation systems:

Customer Experience Data

When your kitchen display system is fully integrated to your guest management system, you’ll have access to customer information to help you improve the experience and create marketing initiatives. You can access a historical guest book that offers such information as guest history, dates visited, buying and spending habits, check details, etc.

FOH and BOH Integration
When your back of house and front of house software integrate with one another, your host staff  can view order- and item-level status updates within the guest management system. Host staff will also receive real-time updates for off-premise orders, eliminating the need to bounce back and forth between the host stand and the kitchen. Kitchen staff can also view front-of-house metrics such as when a large party has been seated, how many people are waiting, etc.

Speed of Service Data

As items are bumped from one phase to the next, a report is written that states when the order started, anticipated cook time length, actual cook time length, and length of time from kitchen to customer.

Expo views in different stations

This is an easy way to identify bottlenecks in your restaurant. Use this data to view cook times that are exceeding their average benchmarks.

Real-Time Order Status

You’ll be able to segment an order’s process based on station, allowing you to diagnose pain points and obstacles. By doing this, you’ll have the ability to tweak problem areas so that efficiency isn’t jeopardized throughout the whole process.

3.) Capacity Management

With an increased demand for off-premise dining and delivery options, this feature is imperative for blending the dual streams of traffic (in-store and off-premise). A KDS with a quoting manager will pace the orders based on real-time activity in the restaurant instead of just volume of order. In turn, the off-premise diner is provided an accurate quote time, and your kitchen isn’t stressed. When traffic picks up in the kitchen, quoting to delivery partners and customers take all restaurant traffic into account. This way, guests receive their order at the expected time.

4.) Automated SMS texting

If you have a KDS with a robust quoting software, you should be able to send automated SMS texts to off-premise diners, alerting them of the exact stage of their order. For example, the Domino’s Tracker keeps customers up to date on their order’s status from when the order is prepared to when it’s on its way.

Some kitchen display software also offers SMS capability to send texts from the kitchen to the servers and bussers. This capability can also be configured to send an automatic “pop-up” alert that bumps from one kitchen station to another.

5.) Mobile capability

A number of kitchen automation systems offer a business intelligence app for restaurant owners. Through the app, operators can set alerts for when a particular metric falls below standards. For example, if an order sits in the delivery window for more than three minutes, the operator will be notified via the app. Users can also gain a quick glimpse of restaurant activity such as cook times to seating economy. 

As the industry continues to evolve, so will restaurant technology. Streamlining your restaurant with kitchen automation eliminates many of the day-to-day pressures that restaurant operators experience. Kitchen automation is the vital piece of the puzzle that will help contribute to creating a smarter, more efficient restaurant that keeps guests happy and builds loyalty.

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