Considerations for Adopting Online Ordering at Your Hospital
It’s more important than ever to maximize sales, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. These days it’s commonplace for restaurants, cafés, and even fast food establishments to have some sort of online ordering system. Some even offer the ability for customers to place their order and expect it to be ready for pickup at the restaurant by the time they arrive.
In an ideal world, you are the manager for a foodservice department with limitless resources and you can provide a comprehensive online ordering system. Unfortunately, this may not be true in reality. Online meal ordering systems will undoubtedly be a key piece of the customer satisfaction puzzle for years to come, but they can take time and patience to get started. How can you ensure that your establishment is ready for such a system? It’s not enough to just list some offerings on a website and expect to double sales. It will take careful planning and coordination in order to have a successful online ordering business channel. Here are some things to consider when planning to use such a system.
Menu Items vs. Preparation Times
The range of menu items offered online will vary among establishments. When deciding which items to offer for online ordering, it’s important to consider the preparation time for each item. A majority of online orders in the industry are placed with the intent to pick it up as soon as possible. With that in mind, your offered items should fall within an acceptable lead time for pick up. For example, if you offer a steak cooked to order that takes 20 minutes to prepare, you have effectively pushed all of the following orders back by 20 minutes. This issue compounds itself if more customers place orders for other items with lengthy prep times. Instead, consider offering items with shorter prep times. As a result, the customers who have placed their online orders expecting immediate delivery will be happy. This will also help reduce the extra demand on the kitchen as well.
People are the most important component when planning for an online ordering system. It’s wonderful to think of the increased revenue from a new business channel. However, don’t forget that this will likely add a larger workload to your current staff. The kitchen staff will have to work harder and longer to fill orders coming from the dining room as well as the additional orders coming from the online system. Handling the online ordering system is a new process to learn and combined with the increased volume of orders, your staff might quickly become overwhelmed. Training current employees ahead of time and considering adding more staff can be a huge advantage when planning for the new system. This will ultimately help smooth out the implementation process and help prevent bottlenecks during normal operation.
Many foodservice establishments do not have a defined pickup area for orders. If your establishment is one of these, then it’s vital that you start planning for this sooner than later. Directing online order customers into an existing service line could be confusing and cause added congestion; thus ultimately ruining the experience of all the customers. Identifying the correct balance can be tricky, but one thing you can do is map out a couple possible options then have your team perform a walkthrough with the mindset of a customer in order to test their viabilities. Ask the team members what they thought of the flow once they have tested the option. Using this method might help you narrow down to the best option for the new pick up location.
Remember that you have resources available to help with tricky situations, and you should never hesitate to ask for guidance if needed.
Article by: Tom Blackmer - SuitePoint! Point-of-Sale Product Manager; Fusion, 4th Quarter, 2016