According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Mid-Year Update, three out of four operators say staffing is their toughest challenge. Simply put, everyone in the restaurant is doing more, and that can make retention even harder.
Couple that with the ongoing trend of takeout and off-premise dining preferences. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, there was an increase in off-premise dining for all three dayparts, and according to the NRA, the industry will continue with a greater emphasis on off-premise business. This type of service will be supported by technology, digital transactions, enhanced takeout and delivery services, and an emphasis on ghost kitchens.
For employees in the front of the house, it means they’re doing a lot more than just seating guests and passing out menus. It’s also where food pick-up cabinet technology like PUC can help with three important functions.
As many restaurants have experienced in the great pivot to takeout and delivery services, organization can be the biggest difference between sending out the right order and sending out the wrong one. And sending out the right order versus the wrong one can be the difference between customer retention and a bad review.
Organization is key, and it ultimately falls on staff to ensure. When bags pile up on the counter or are picked through on a rack, not only can it jeopardize quality or inconsistency, it can also even lead to unsafe situations. That’s why it’s important to develop processes and systems that utilize innovative solutions to make sure orders are standardized.
Another issue the front-of-the-house faces is payment. In restaurants that operate both dining room service and a robust takeout business, this can be problematic as host and hostess stands are overwhelmed with both receiving payment and proving takeout orders while also dealing with parties waiting for tables or confirming reservations.
Even though we’re not in the throes of the pandemic as we were a year or so ago, crowded spaces can still be unchartered territory for many customers and staff, so creating the ability to take payment using technology can help elevate a lot of unwanted waiting in the front of the house.
Once an order is received, processed, organized, and hopefully paid for via technology and online payment options, the final step is the pick-up itself. This is where customers can also create the most chaos as they rummage through bags looking for tags with a familiar name. Hands touch the wrong orders. People pick up the wrong dinners.
In many cases, orders might be ready well before the customer even arrives. This means quality is deteriorating by the minute as lunch sits on the shelf. The other scenario is that it isn’t ready, and the customer will stand around crowding the entryway. Either way, this creates chaos for front-of-the-house staff, but with the right technology, food can be stored at proper holding temperatures without the need to overwhelm staff.
Control Takeout Touchpoints with PUC
There’s one simple solution that can help restaurants control touchpoints with customers while making things easier on staff. The Pick-Up Cabinet from Carter-Hoffmann allows operators to utilize technology to provide a seamless, touch-free takeout service that reflects the attention to detail that off-premise dining deserves.
It all starts with organization. The PUC cabinet allows for loading from multiple sides so that staff can be as efficient as possible and not interfere with customers picking up their food on the other side. Orders can be arranged in their own unique space, eliminating any confusion. PUC also allows for payment to take place before the customer arrives. This places all the focus of that final touchpoint on just the pick-up. And pick-up is when the magic really happens. Using a mobile device, a customer doesn’t need to touch anything. Just open the unique cabinet, grab dinner, and go.