Off-Premise Dining: A Data-Powered Approach

Off-premise dining and delivery are only becoming more popular options in today’s restaurant climate. To stay viable (and profitable), restaurants need to establish an off-premise dining strategy for their operation.¬† To most efficiently enact an off-premise dining strategy in your restaurant (and believe us, you can!), it helps to have an understanding of the various streams of data it generates, and how these relate to off-premise dining in the first place. You needn’t be a data expert at all. We’re going to look at three areas: front-of-house data; back-of-house data; and your operations data as well as how you can put them to work in your strategy.

Front-of-House Data – Managing Traffic (and Guest Expectations)

Front-of-House data relates directly to your guest management efforts, stats like the number of guests served, their average wait times and table turn times. The device you use at your front-of-house should store this data, and from it, you can get a real read on your actual guest management performance. You can look at how well you’re utilizing your seating efficiency on higher-traffic days and get a basic feel for your waitlist workflow.

Understand that in creating an off-premise dining strategy, you’ll be processing orders coming in from off-site as well as those from walk-in traffic, an increase overall. To keep things running smoothly, consider the benefits of an integrated restaurant, i.e., a setup where your front and back-of-house devices can communicate with one another. This kind of integration gives those in the kitchen a window into how things are going out on the floor.

Furthermore, you want to make sure you’ve got a KDS (yes, that is technically back-of-house but hear us out) which can “throttle” orders. What this means is that it blends the various streams of traffic coming in, from off-premise and on-site via your POS, and utilizing dynamic quoting software, can inflate or deflate pickup times by kitchen bandwidth. Essentially, it means if your kitchen is busy, a quote time is expanded to allow more time for the order, without diminishing the customer’s experience (it tells them when to get their food, no waiting required), or impeding your in-house flow. Overall, you want to keep an eye on areas where your front-of-house becomes busier and look for the technology which can adapt when it becomes more frenzied.

Back-of-House Data РOrder Tracking  Step by Step

When we talk about back-of-house data, we mean your kitchen performance, AKA your speed of service data. This data includes the number of entrees your process in one night, how long it takes an order to move from one stage to the next as well as your historical averages. Regarding kitchen technology, a good Kitchen Display System will track this speed of service data for you. By monitoring the step-by-step process of an order (how long it takes to cook, how long it stays in the delivery window, etc.) via speed of service reports you can get an insight into how well your kitchen is running, as well as set goals with your staff. For example, an operator may wish to set a threshold that no entree stays in the delivery window for longer than two minutes. Through the KDS, they can track how well they’re maintaining that goal, as well as identify labor inefficiencies or bottlenecks at points where they go over the threshold.

This back-of-house data relates to an off-premise dining strategy too. Think about how many restaurants have utilized order-tracking to loop guests into the process, literally letting them know at which stage their food is. Depending on your technology, an outbound SMS text system or app widget can let guests know, to the most granular detail, where their food is. Ultimately, when you’re tracking this back of house data, you can (should!) turn it outward to create a well-connected off-premise dining and delivery system as well.

Operations Data – Setting It All Up

Finally, your operations data relates to the finite resources available in your restaurant. This data includes your food inventory, your finances, and your staffing allocation. When creating any off-premise dining situation in your restaurant, it’s crucial to know what resources you have to work with at hand. Do you want to create a delivery system? Do you have the staffing bandwidth to handle it in-house or would you prefer to outsource it?

Understand that an off-premise dining strategy may require some up-front costs and more staffing. Take a thorough stock of these nuts and bolts factors in your restaurant before moving forward.

When done correctly, adding off-premise dining to your restaurant’s arsenal will create more business and an enhanced guest experience overall. With just a basic understanding of restaurant data, as well as some automated solutions to help you access it, you can ensure the off-premise implementation process is smooth as possible.