Using Restaurant Technology to Stay Compliant with the Law
Recently, the UK Government released information on safe operating practices for restaurants to reopen in the UK. The 44-page document offers insight and policy suggestions to guide operators on procedures to keep a safe environment for staff and guests. There is a lot to pick through, and the information can be a little hard to follow in places. We recently sat down with industry professionals for our webinar Technology in a Time of Disruption, A Chat with Restaurant Industry Leaders, which you can watch below. In the meantime, did you know that technology offers many ideal solutions for social distancing and restaurant operations in this new world? It’s likely that you already have the tools that you need in your existing tech stack. Let’s explore using restaurant technology to stay compliant with the law.
Upon Your Guests’ Arrival
Many of the rules by the UK government pertain to front-of-house (FOH) safety, whether that’s for waitlisting, or seating your guests. Some guidelines require a business to keep 21 days’ worth of records on who has visited an establishment, to help public health officials with contact tracing. A robust guest and table management solution can store names and phone numbers of both reservations and waitlist parties, while always remaining GDPR compliant. As such, there are recommendations to introduce a queuing system to help with capacity management and social distancing practices in seating arrangements. Look for features that allow for flexibility in your front-of-house tech that not only offer built-in reservation management capabilities and that can integrate with 3rd party reservation platforms, granting expanded availability to customers.
Lending a Hand
Venues should provide guidance on social distancing, and they can do that through reservations and waitlisting, specifically through the use of SMS text. – You can program your messages to contain specific links to guidelines on venue procedures to help manage and set expectations for your guests while assuaging any of their potential concerns. Contactless dining functionality is likely already a few clicks away for your tech team, and an excellent way to minimize person-to-person contact.
Kitchen Display Systems and Social Distancing
You should ideally serve cutlery upon serving the food, not before. A rich kitchen display system can calculate the cutlery required for each order and display this information on screens for the FOH team.
Likewise, you can minimize contact between your back-of-house (BOH), FOH, and delivery partners with the right KDS. Keep in mind that with the right features, a KDS removes the need for communication between team members, instead digitally managing the kitchen and service delivery. This technology, in turn, helps reduce interaction between team members whenever possible while increasing your efficiency and quality.
Relative to that, orders should be, when possible, placed through apps that can integrate with your existing restaurant technology. You might consider agnostic hardware that allows you to pick the best-of-breed in tech across your many needs, without locking you into one catchall solution that may not be ideal. If you offer off-premise orders via your in-house team or a third-party, there are aggregators that you can use to coordinate between your FOH and BOH to ensure that orders go out quickly and without any unnecessary hand-offs.
The restaurant industry is very much a social environment, designed to bring people together. As such, it may not be easy to offer remote work to your staff, unless they work in a ghost kitchen. However, whenever possible, companies should provide remote access to work systems; this allows your administrative team remote access to management and data retrieval and analysis to help with your business needs. For multi-unit operations, there are also real-time remote monitoring applications, which allow restaurateurs to keep up with their responsibilities no matter where they are.
When possible, venues should allow staff to work further away from each other in kitchens. Fortunately, many KDS platforms enable each kitchen member to work independently with the flexibility to adapt to changing service level requirements. Through features like meal coursing and delayed routing, you can remove the need for paper tickets and mitigate additional touchpoints.
Clean, Clean, and Clean Again
It should go without saying that the constant cleaning of venues is a feature of any reopening guidelines. As such, staff may require reminders to do that. Fortunately, you can program your KDS or guest management system with ghost tickets that serve as a reminder for when and how to clean.
In fact, in most cases, those same devices can remind FOH and BOH teams to complete regularly scheduled tasks, from the washing of hands or checking the toilets to refilling sanitary soap. Many recipe viewers or KDS platforms provide the ability to show videos covering examples of new operational procedures within the individual workspace of the kitchen team as well, which also helps with any of your re-staffing needs to keep your operations consistent.
These guidelines are imperative to follow to avoid future outbreaks. While that may seem overwhelming, using restaurant technology to stay compliant with the law can help you overcome obstacles through reminders and programmable guidance. Furthermore, you can use your tech to your advantage by minimizing interpersonal contact on-site through the novel use of BOH and FOH communications and re-emerging solutions like QR codes for your menus or waitlisting. Watch our recent webinar below for a talk with restaurant industry professionals on utilizing your existing technology to overcome modern struggles.
Watch the webinar, Technology in a Time of Disruption, below!
About the Author
Nick Brown heads up Business Development for QSR Automations in the UK. Nick lives around west London (where he’s spent his life) and considers himself a bit of a foodie. When not at the latest restaurant, you can find him occasionally jogging or (more likely) binge-watching the most recent Netflix series.