COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the hospitality sector. As a result, restaurant managers are paying greater attention to food order management.
Restaurant managers who are already using food order management systems need a clear idea of what works, what doesn’t, and what they need to improve. And managers without these systems are likely in a rush to find the platform that best fits their needs.
In this post, we’ll look at how food order management works as well as some important things to consider when you’re deciding what might be best for your restaurant.
What is food order management, and how does it work?
Food order management allows restaurants to provide takeout orders or delivery to patrons. Because of COVID-19, food order management has become even more important. With dining rooms closed, takeout and delivery services have become lifelines for many restaurants.
There are two basic types of food order management systems: point-of-sale (POS) systems and outsourced systems.
POS systems frequently have the capability to handle food order management in house. When a customer calls a restaurant with a delivery or takeout order, the information is collected in the POS food order management tool. The food order management system provides questions for the customer, provides details to the restaurant staff, and alerts staff when orders are ready to be picked up or delivered.
These systems can collect takeout orders online and ask questions based on prompts. You can also customize them. In terms of cost, you pay an upfront fee for food order management with a POS.
Outsourced systems like ChowNow, Grubhub, and Uber Eats don’t “live” on a restaurant’s website; instead, patrons might go to the Grubhub site, for example, and place an order that Grubhub then sends to the restaurant. The outsourced company picks up the order and delivers it to the patron.
With this approach to food order management, you pay the outsourced companies a percentage of the total bill in order to use their site, deliver food to your customers, and market on your restaurant’s behalf.
Food order management with JotForm allows you to customize your own system so that you can offer various options for your customers — from curbside pickup and to-go orders to delivery. If you don’t want to use a restaurant ordering app — or if other options seem overpriced — JotForm’s custom online forms can collect food orders and payments all at once — with no extra transaction fees.
Food order management systems — things to consider
Here are a few things to think about when you’re considering food order management systems.
Food order management systems can simplify the whole process
Any automated method that collects orders online and automatically sends them to the kitchen for preparation makes things easier for restaurant staff.
Instead of dealing with phones ringing off the hook, online systems give you a lot of freedom. They require no phone time for staff, can accept multiple orders simultaneously, and leave less room for error. They’re also easier for your customers, who can order at their convenience.
Food order management provides another revenue channel
Even if a dining room is at 100-percent capacity, food order management allows you to provide takeout services as well.
Well-known restaurants likely don’t need expensive food order management systems
If your restaurant is often packed, you probably don’t need to outsource your food order management. You don’t need to pay another company a percentage of your sales to market your restaurant. In this case, a solution like JotForm might be exactly what you need.
Consider the costs, and do your research before outsourcing
According to James Rinker, senior consultant at National Restaurant Consultants, it’s most important to consider what your restaurant needs for food order management and then do your research to find a system that does exactly that.
“I constantly look at sales versus the cost and benefits of food order management systems,” Rinker says. “It can be surprisingly expensive — anywhere from 5 percent to 25 percent of sales.”
Restaurants have notoriously low operating margins compared to other businesses, so spending money on an outsourced or POS food order management system isn’t something all restaurants can or should do.
Don’t sign onto one system without looking at all of the options available at varying price points. If you can find an inexpensive food order management tool that provides the customization and reliability your restaurant needs, that’s ideal.
Will the takeout and delivery boom continue to grow?
Takeout and delivery services have created a cushion for restaurants across the board — even those that previously didn’t offer takeout have pivoted to this method in order to keep their kitchens open. But will it continue?
According to Rinker, the future looks favorable. “I think the takeout and delivery trend we’re seeing will continue to be hugely popular in the short term and will likely continue.”
And while Rinker notes that some restaurants may be unable to offer their entire menu for takeout, they can and should offer a limited menu of food items that travel well.
“Now is the opportunity to boost your takeout abilities and profitability,” Rinker says. “Takeout and delivery are not quite as profitable as in-restaurant dining, but when priced right, they are profitable.”