If you’re looking for ways to optimize your meal preparation and order taking, you might have heard about the Kitchen Display System. It is a solution that can revolutionize the business happening between your front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house sections. It replaces the traditional verbal and handwritten communication of orders and improves the entire restaurant operation in the process.
Errors in meal ordering and preparation are continuously costing restaurants. While this was considered a major concern before, the industry has developed different types of technologies that help enhance the current situation of every restaurant business.
This pandemic led the whole market into getting used to a fast, convenient, and accurate service. You may continue to provide them such service by learning more about the restaurant technologies available for your restaurant. And for this article, learn more about KDS and discover how much your restaurant will improve by using it.
What is a Kitchen Display System
KDS is a digital screen that shows ordering tickets by linking it to your POS system. It streamlines the ordering and meal preparation by reducing human error in order taking. You may be thinking that it doesn’t do much since you’ve trained your staff well to deal with this kind of dilemma, but a 5% human error rate can cost your restaurant $30 to $80 per order. That’s a huge loss to take the risk with.
Your back-f-the-house team will appreciate you and the process of digitizing the order preparation process.
Main parts of a KDS
Your KDS is divided into two main parts, the hardware components that serve as the main tool and the software components that serve as the fuel for your main tool.
- Back-of-the-house display screen – It is a monitor that’s large enough to display the orders for your BOH team. It must display high-quality and sharp images of the tickets to ensure that they’ll be seen clearly by your kitchen staff.
- Tablet – This tool is the extension of your POS system that your FOH staff can use in sending orders to the restaurant kitchen.
- Wall stand and mount – The advantage of placing your table and display screen on to wall mount or stand is for it to cover a larger area. Your kitchen is the busiest section of your restaurant and it might be too much for your BOH staff if they have to check on the digital order tickets to a tablet or screen that’s fixed on a countertop. It opposes your vision of an optimized and streamlined order-taking process.
- Bump bar – Your kitchen staff might be used to working with gloves and wet hands, but now that touchless and contactless equipment is being celebrated more, it is also a good choice to incorporate one for your BOH team. A kitchen bump bar serves as a keyboard that allows them to manage the digital order tickets displayed on your touchless screen.
It enables them to open, bump, and navigate digital order tickets. It is an easy-to-use tool that allows them to function more and increase their productivity.
- Kitchen printers – Even though everything’s being digitized and automated, printing physical order tickets is still a good back-up plan for restaurants. Worry not as it won’t increase manual labor on your end because kitchen printers are now programmed with a digital display that automatically prints order tickets (good for documentation and backup reports).
The features of your KDS kitchen software vary depending on what type of function you want your KDS to perform. Remember that it can do so much more than order taking and displaying your order tickets. Here are some of the most beneficial features of its software.
- Routing – It allows your kitchen staff to program menu items to specific kitchen stations such as the fryer or griller, and ensure that the ingredients are moving into the proper path.
- Customizable and purpose-built interface – Personalized your display screen on how you want your digital order tickets to be seen. Organize it better by customizing them according to color, font size, and more. Make sure that any changes made will be communicated to the whole restaurant team to avoid internal miscommunication.
- Meal movement – Pace the movement of your orders if the meals ordered by a single table takes different time to prepare and cook. This is to make sure that every food item that leaves your kitchen is fresh and of high quality.
- Order display – Displays upcoming orders and your past order tickets.
- Ingredient and recipe display – This is a helpful feature that allows your BOH team to manage every recipe they’re using in a centralized location. They can use it in training new kitchen staff and serves as a reference as needed.
- Coursing – If you’re the type of restaurant that offers set meals or different meal courses such as soup, entrees, dessert), this feature enables your FOH team to send a one order ticket that’s organized and displayed on how the food items are supposed to be served on the table.
- Online order management – Manage your online order service capacity by incorporating your online ordering software into your KDS.
- Offline management – This feature is also known as redundancy, and it serves as a backup server for your KDS should there be an issue such as power interruption. It preserves existing displayed orders while you’re trying to retrieve the whole system.
- Reporting – The biggest blessing brought by every type of restaurant solution and technology is that it improves the effectiveness and efficiency of administrative tasks. Real-time and historical reports can be produced easily with just one click. With your KDS, you can analyze the reports about inventory, ticket times, labor incompetencies, ordering trends, menu management.
Having better analysis and insight about these types of data leads you into making better and effective business decisions that will allow you to place your restaurant business into a better position.
Technical Specifications of a KDS
In the process of looking for the best KDS software for your restaurant, you must also look into the technical specifications of each KDS you encounter. Every spec of the following must be at its optimal and highest quality.
- Screen display
- IP-54 rating
- Internal power supply
- Intel processors
- Temperature range
- Cooling features
- Security features
- Memory and storage
Essential Features of a KDS
A restaurant’s back-of-the-house is not just about cooking, it is composed of different sections such as meal preparation, delivery management, storage management, waste management, and many more. These different sections have different needs and a KDS can help fulfill these needs by providing different views for your entire BOH team.
Increase the efficiency of meal preparation with the order view feature of your KDS. This feature allows you to see upcoming orders in an organized grid, depending on your desired format. Some formats are ideal for every type of restaurant business model.
If you’re a fast-casual and quick-service restaurant, grid view would be more effective for your team. If you’re operating a table-service restaurant, order views in the service area or end of the prep line will be the most useful type for you.
Discuss with your team what’s the best type of order view to adopt and monitor the progress of your kitchen operations while using it.
Mostly used by table-type or fine dining restaurants that assist and support plating times. It allows your kitchen staff to view the estimated prep plating time for every ingredient and menu item on the order ticket.
This feature of your kitchen order system creates different viewing options for individual menu items on the order ticket. This is mainly utilized for more efficient and effective routing of menu items to their specific preparation and cooking stations. This is most useful during peak and busy seasons.
This is a view type that shows your customer the real-time status of their orders. It gives them the exact location of their orders, is it being prepared? Is it already being cooked? Is it about to be served? There are several questions that your customers want to be answered, and if you’re able to provide the answers based on factual information, it can improve their dining experience with your restaurant.
Why Does Your Restaurant Kitchen Need a KDS?
The Restaurant Industry has promoted different types of solutions to every problem that is being faced by the businesses that operate under them. For KDS, discover what are its benefits and how useful it can be for your restaurant kitchen staff.
Improves service speed
Every restaurant operation must provide an efficient, accurate, and fast service to customers. Customers always crave such type of service thus the birth of fast-casual dining. Working with a KDS can help you to provide the same service as it helps to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your kitchen staff.
It displays order tickets in an easy-to-read, clear, and extensive way. Say goodbye to inaccurate orders and the additional cost that was caused by ineligible handwriting. Real-time updating features also help improve the order taking and service speed as all additional notes and changes in orders are updated in real-time.
The kitchen staff can start working on an order without waiting for the FOH staff to update them with the order. It is a great way to streamline the daily hustle-and-bustle of your restaurant operations.
Enhances waste control and inventory management
By switching to digital order tickets, all orders will be more accurate and it eliminates confusion with meal preparation. You can also connect your POS to your KDS software to enable your inventory level display on your display screen. Alerts and notifications will be sent once ingredients and food items are below their standard inventory level.
As an additional, food waste is not the only waste you’ve controlled but lesser printing or going paperless allows you to reduce the carbon footprint of your restaurant business.
Refines customer service
Customer experience and satisfaction are everything for a customer-centric business, like restaurants. By adopting a KDS for your restaurant, you’re now more capable of providing your customers an improved and refined customer service.
Being served with a wrong food item is one of the main sources of dissatisfied customers. Maintain a good relationship with your customer by providing them a fast yet accurate service. It is also important that all their follow-up changes, special requests, and additional order are well received and noted by the kitchen staff.
Increases in check-size
What comes after satisfied customers? Increase in sales. Since you now have a better capacity, order fulfillment, and meal preparation management, you’re now in better control of your restaurant business. Also, faster order processing means a higher table turnover rate, leading you to a higher number of seat diners and takeout or delivery per service.
Boosts staff morale
Your restaurant staff, both front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house team, will be in high spirit as there is a lesser mistake in communicating orders, special and additional requests. This allows them to function in harmony even though they operate in a fast-paced environment.
Overlooked orders and misinterpreted notes will be avoided as all communications are done digitally and are updated in real-time. There are KDS with features that send notifications in an SMS format that alerts your FOH staff if the orders are already prepared and ready to be served.
Monitors staff performance
With KDS, you can track and monitor your staff’s performance by looking into your fulfillment times report. KDS system helps you track the time your restaurant staff takes to fulfill an order ticket. This data helps give you a better insight on what are the menu items you need to work on, and which areas of your kitchen operations you need to improve.
Setting and using the right metrics can also help you to identify which of your kitchen staff are being more productive, and which one needs a bit more monitoring and training.
Develops online ordering process
One of the main features of KDS software is its ability to manage and handle off-premise orders smoothly. Your staff no longer have to manually input online orders from your POS because connecting your KDS to your POS system allows your KDS to display online orders directly to its screen.
Online orders will be routed directly from your online ordering system to your KDS screen display. If you’re worried about your capacity management, there are options where online orders and other off-premise orders are sent for review and approval first before they’re sent to your kitchen.
How to choose the perfect KDS?
Several factors affect your decision in choosing the perfect KDS for your restaurant business. You must be familiar with the current situation of your operations, and you understand how it can benefit from an upgrade.
It may be a costly investment upfront, but you have to consider what are its advantages in the long run. Receipt printers can end up costing you more as you need to refill them with paper every once in a while. Also, considering how it increases the table turnover rate of your restaurant allows you to boost your sales which leads to a boost in your revenue as well.
Just make sure that you won’t go overboard, it is still important that the KDS that you’ll employ will answer the current needs of your restaurant.
Your POS system serves as the center of your entire restaurant operations, and your KDS will have to depend on it to function. There are two main types of POS that restaurants are now using, the tablet system and the kiosk system. For the kiosk system, you have to input orders to your POS for them to be displayed on your KDS.
As for the tablet system, you can take orders using the tablet and it will automatically send the orders directly to the kitchen and display it on the order screen. Seeing how efficient this system is, it is getting more attention from restaurateurs compared to the kiosk system.
What works for your competition may not work for you but it won’t hurt to evaluate how a certain KDS is performing for your competitors. You and your competitors share something similar, be it your concept, business model, or target market. If they’re performing well in the market, you might want to consider checking out the upgrades that worked for them.
Identify which parts of your operations, especially your BOH and FOH sections, need improvement. Are your staff still taking orders using a notepad? How many errors are recorded with this type of order-taking process? How your FOH communicates orders to your BOH team? How effective is this communication channel?
Consult your entire staff on what are the areas that need improvement. If you need additional insight, you may survey your customers and see if they are still satisfied with the current situation of your operations.