You don’t have to be a quick service restaurant or have a huge kitchen to gain big value from kitchen display systems.
In fact, restaurants of all shapes and sizes can benefit from the operational advantages that touchscreen kitchen display systems offer.
Here are the six biggest benefits of using restaurant kitchen order systems (also known as a KDS, or kitchen display system).
1. Accurately Track Fulfillment Times
KDS screens will track the time it takes your kitchen staff to fulfill each ticket.
If you have a POS system that offers kitchen reports (pictured below), you will be able to gain a tremendous amount of insight into which areas you should focus on to streamline processes and further improve kitchen operations.
Kitchen reports can show you a wide array of metrics, including average fulfillment time by day of the week and time of day. With this information, you can easily identify your most efficient kitchen staff members, those who may benefit additional training, and rush hours that may require additional hands on deck.
2. Simplify the Cooking Process
Most chefs would rather know they have to prep 42 wings total than seven orders of six wings. Your kitchen staff shouldn't be wasting time on mental math and potentially making costly errors, they should be cooking delicious meals and delighting your guests.
Some kitchen display systems have an "all day" display so rather than having to read between the lines, cooks know exactly how many patties need to be on the grill, how many orders of fries need to be in the fryers, and how many cheese pizzas should be in the oven.
Paper tickets can lead to confusion for chefs, unlike with restaurant kitchen order systems where assignments and responsibilities are clearly laid out. With paper tickets, it's easy for two cooks to see an order of grilled chicken being prepped, and each think it's for the caesar salad they were working on. This solves the "who's chicken is it?" confusion and gets guests the right order, faster.
3. Improve Your Kitchen Efficiency
Some kitchen display systems, like the one pictured below, allow tickets to be routed directly to specific kitchen screens and prep stations. You can even color code tickets so they change colors when they are not fulfilled within a designated amount of time, keeping your turn time fast and your team accountable.
One restaurant we spoke with claimed a kitchen display system doubled their sales thanks to kitchen efficiency.
This feature helps your kitchen staff easily keep track of the different tickets they need to address and prioritize accordingly. This added efficiency kitchen display screens offer increases the number of tickets each chef can fulfill in a given time period, which in turn cuts down on your restaurant's labor costs.
4. Streamline FOH and BOH Workflows
If the kitchen display system is used in a full service environment and your POS vendor also offers handheld tablets, your servers can get instant notifications on their tablet's interface when tickets are marked as fulfilled on the KDS.
No handhelds? No problem. Some KDS options will send text messages to servers when food is in the window in an FSR, or to customers in a QSR.
Instant alerts to servers or customers streamlines operations and ensures that your guests receive their food as soon as it is ready so dishes are never delivered cold.
5. Reduced Waste
An auxiliary benefit of having restaurant kitchen order systems is that they help to reduce food waste in your restaurant. By eliminating paper tickets altogether, you cut back drastically on your paper roll costs.
This also has a huge positive impact on the environment. Toast estimates 2,500 trees were saved in 2017 thanks to restaurants using a KDS in the BOH.
In addition to cutting down on wasted paper, by helping your restaurant operations be more focused and efficient, kitchen display systems can also help to cut down on food wasted as a result of mis-communication between the front and back of house.
6. Integrated Online Ordering Process
Orders from restaurant online ordering systems can be routed directly to kitchen display screens without requiring a staff member to manually re-enter the order into the POS system.
If you prefer to have online orders approved before they are fired to the kitchen, some POS systems will allow you to set permissions so a manager must approve all online orders or cash-only orders before they are fired.
This way, online orders are now fully integrated into your operations and don’t require extra manual effort from your staff to be completed.
How Does a KDS Improve Your Operations?
Share your experiences below, especially if you've added a kitchen display system in the past few years.
Have you seen increased productivity, streamlined workflows, and better processes overall?
Do you have any stories about how the kitchen display system streamlined front of house and back of house operations? (Really, it's a "one-house" system now.)
This post was initially published in March 2016 and has been updated by AJ Beltis with new and accurate information.