Whether we’re food-trucking around beautiful Ontario wine country onboard El Gastrónomo Vagabundo, or dishing up fried chicken and waffles from our pop-up kitchen at Niagara Oast House Brewers, our goal is to always keep guests entertained, well-fed and ready to return.
When more and more people started hearing about us, we felt the heat from customers who waited in our lines longer than it took to eat their meals. Customers took to social media, sharing photos of the dozens of hungry guests lined up. And we took their experiences to heart.
Over the years, we’ve streamlined menus, added staff and tweaked our service models in an effort to determine what works to keep the lines moving and our customers happy. One of the most effective steps we’ve taken is implementing technologies to help improve lineups, track food sales and ultimately make better business decisions.
The Need for Speed
Food trucks, pop-ups and other quick-service-restaurant (QSR) models rely not just on their speed of service, but on the quality of speedy service. Delaget reports customers are highly satisfied with a wait time less than three minutes in QSR environments. But satisfaction exponentially decreases for each minute beyond six minutes.
With today’s easy access to social media, online review sites and food blogs, a dissatisfied customer can spread the word faster than ever before. When each element of service is open to feedback on a global scale, QSR environments must find a balance between speed, quality of service and product delivery.
Mobile POS systems weren’t widely used when we opened our truck in 2010. We wrote individual orders by hand, tracked daily sales by hand and reconciled deposits by hand. We scheduled staff with text messages and tracked hours on timesheets.
After spending long days in the hot kitchen of our truck, and then cleaning, ordering ingredients and prepping the next day’s menu, crunching the numbers was the last thing we wanted to do.
Implementing POS software into our operations has allowed us to take orders, track sales, plan menus based on top-selling items, schedule and track staff hours, and reconcile everything at the end of the day. When we finally got a POS system, we were able to work smarter, not harder, and focus on delivering a quality product—and experience—to our customers.
QuickBooks Point of Sale helps QSR businesses handle a large number of customers, all while monitoring best-selling items, peak sales periods and different purchasing behaviors across venues and audiences. We can compare one food truck event to another in terms of sales, staff requirements, top-selling items and more. Staff hours are easily tracked, and integration with QuickBooks accounting software makes for easy record-keeping and transaction reconciliation, eliminating needless headaches.
For a guide to selecting the right POS system for your restaurant, click here.
In addition to POS software, technologies like radio-frequency (RF) systems can help manage large crowds in a QSR environment. RF communication happens from the kitchen to the serving staff via wearable buzzers, and it can be used to notify waiting customers when their food is ready.
Emerging technologies incorporate radio-frequency identification (RFID); when guests place their order, their location and order time can be tagged, allowing them to be easily found by servers in a large crowd. We’re seeing more of these kinds of technologies used at large food-truck rallies and events, where a group divides and orders from different trucks, and then reconvenes to share and compare.
Speed and quality are never mutually exclusive characteristics of QSR services, and technology is available to help optimize both. By embracing technology and having a good grasp of business operations, owners and operators will have the confidence and freedom to focus on what they love: serving up amazing food and making customers happy.
To learn more about how your restaurant can better utilize tech, see our article on the do’s, don’ts and maybes of restaurant technology.