Holiday Rush in the Age of the Pandemic
This will be an unprecedented holiday season as restaurateurs face incredible challenges. With coronavirus cases surging and the onset of cold weather minimizing outdoor seating options, the CDC has issued warnings to avoid large gatherings, in public and private. The holidays are big business in the restaurant industry, and with margins tight, restaurateurs need to get the word out on their deals while planning for safety. As we head into the season, these restaurateurs can learn from past mistakes and prepare for an upcoming holiday rush, unlike any in recent memory.
To bring this to life, let’s illustrate some examples. The Smith family has agreed to a small, socially distant gathering. The family chose a location with proper ventilation and enough space for everyone to spread out safely. While the coronavirus isn’t believed to spread through food or via surfaces, they choose to minimize their possibility of cross-contamination by ordering from their favorite restaurant. This frees everyone up to focus on their limited time together without fussing over meal prep.
Placing the Order
To beat the holiday rush, they decide to place the order via the restaurant’s website. The website provides payment options, which allows family representative John Smith to pay in advance. With the payment received, the site will confirm a pickup time, which is calculated through your integrated restaurant tech stack—more on that in a moment.
When submitted, the order routes through their platform starting at their POS. From there, it goes to the kitchen display system (KDS), which will hold the order until it’s ready for preparation, which includes all the necessary lead time to get it ready. From an operational perspective, this allows restaurant owners and managers to assess their potential needs in advance, giving them a lead on day-of prep.
The Big Day
With the Smith order placed, the family settles in for their time together. At the restaurant, the manager has prepared for the holiday rush. They’ve staffed according to need based on both external factors and data analytics. That same data informs the KDS of how many orders are coming in already and is useful in establishing best bin management practices.
With the restaurant getting pre-holiday and day-of orders, managing incoming traffic is critical to avoiding preventable bottlenecks. With capacity management, your KDS uses real-time order tracking data to prevent your operation from being overwhelmed. The Smith family plan to eat a little earlier, so their order is scheduled for completion at 4 pm. The system will take the existing orders and what’s coming in and account for everything — including prep times.
While restaurateurs can account for previous years’ traffic, 2020 has taught us all that you never know what’s coming next. Capacity management helps you plan for the unexpected, holiday rush, or otherwise.
Once the order is completed, it goes to the expo station, prepared for transport. There, the restaurant staff uses a sticky printer to label each item accordingly. After labeling everything, they use their KDS’ tag-on-touch feature to mark off items as complete. This final step in the back-of-house process allows for expanded quality control to ensure that every item is in place and ready for hand-off to the guest.
Where Is Your Ordering Going?
It’s 4 pm. The Smith family order is prepared and ready to send out on time. Where’s the order going? Is it a delivery, takeout, or curbside order? Do you have a delivery driver on staff, or is the order going out through one of many third-party delivery services? A robust KDS can integrate with front-of-house tech like a restaurant management platform, which can aggregate orders by destination.
In this case, the order is a curbside pickup; John Smith will alert the restaurant as he arrives that he’s on-premise. Once there, someone on staff will take the order out. Let’s look at how that might go.
Upon arrival, John sends a guest-initiated message to the restaurant through an SMS text. Fortunately, the restaurant utilizes contactless tech, minimizing interpersonal contact and the potential for viral transmission. In his text, he can inform the restaurant where he is parked, along with a brief description of his car. A food runner locates the order after the restaurant is contacted and quickly locates the car for the hand-off. Because the order was pre-paid, the carrier hands off a receipt, and the transaction is complete.
Holiday Rush Concluded
There is evidence that consumers want to dine in and get out of their house, but safety still comes first. Social distancing measures have led to an increase in curbside pickup, providing guests the restaurant experience and their vehicles’ safety. In the above example, the Smith family found a solution to a no-fuss, socially distanced celebration. Through smart integrated tech, the restaurant delivered on that promise even throughout the holiday rush, sacrificing neither quality nor their output. Are you that restaurateur?
Looking for resources to prepare for the upcoming holiday rush? We’ve got you covered with our handy guide to avoid getting overwhelmed on the big day.
About the Author
Syd is a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot. At home, like the rest of the world right now, he’s finding time to play with the kids and create art.