For Fast Food Outlets / Take-Aways, the prime objectives are to provide more customers with freshly prepared meals of their choice in the shortest time, utilising minimum resources as economically as possible. The end result must be satisfied customers who will return and, hopefully, recommend the restaurant to other potential customers, plus of course a healthy profit from the operation.
There are many other considerations depending on the type of operation, for example a healthy diet may be a consideration for a school/college cafeteria.
In every case, there are certain scenarios which will result in customer dissatisfaction, and eventual decline of the business. Amongst these must be numbered:-
Lengthy queuing times. No customer likes to wait either to place an order or to be served.
Stale food. If the food has been standing around for a long time, no customer will be pleased to eat it.
Poor choice. Can the restaurant provide the meals the customer expects to be available?
Over pricing. Is the value for money equation correct?
You can probably add quite a few of your own points to this list, but here we will only consider how CATERMAN assists in solving these four.
If customers simply turn up and place their order for immediate service, there is little that can be done other than make as many staff and resources available as economically feasible at the busiest times. If you pre-empt your busiest times by preparing meals in advance, some of it will be stale by the time you sell it. Customers asking for unusual choices will not have been catered for. If fewer customers turn up than expected, the food is wasted, which has to be paid for, and affects problem 4. Conversely, if more turn up, you are back to problem number 1.
The only alternative is to encourage ordering in advance. Consequently, many outlets provide a telephone ordering service, which in itself creates problems such as tying up staff resources answering the phone, customer loss when the phone is engaged for long periods, mistakes made in taking a verbal order over the phone (what was ordered, when for, and address if to be delivered).
CATERMAN provides several mechanisms for ordering in advance.
First is the internet ordering facility, unusual in that it requires customers to use a mobile phone to set up their account, and the phone is needed to subsequently access that internet account, thereby avoiding rogue ordering from non-customers. Of course, accounts can also be set up by you in the normal manner, but letting customers create their own accounts saves a lot of work. The internet facility is encrypted to banking standards. Account holders can pay cash, or add cash onto the account, or credit/debit cards, in any combination subject to your control. Vouchers can be generated by CATERMAN for promotions or simply sold as meal tickets, in the form of mobile phone top up cards, or even tickets printed by a receipt machine (car park machines are ideal). Vouchers can be added to an account either via the internet or in payment at your CATERMAN EPOS (a standard PC, but preferably something like a HP Touchsmart). The order can stipulate a time/date for pick up (or delivery if the account holder's post code is in your list of delivery post codes with associated time for delivery and cost).
Second is the facility for mobile phone SMS text ordering. The customer simply sends a text to your CATERMAN number with a list of recipe identifiers. In the simplest form, an order is generated for pick up as soon as possible, but the text can include a request for delivery if the account holder's postcode is one you have elected to deliver to. The text can include a time for pick up or delivery, and if necessary a date if not today for any date in the future as far ahead as you have elected to allow. The order is texted back to the customer with prices. If the customer is unhappy with the order, it can be cancelled by simply returning the text confirmation.
Third is a planned callflow service where the customer answers vocal questions by entering specific phone keys. This service is not yet available, and no definite commitment is given that the service will be available.
All of these mechanisms result in an order being entered into CATERMAN, and being shown on the pending orders screens. Optionally, at no extra charge, any standard PC can be set to receive new order notifications with an audio warning of new order arrival and the order being displayed on the screen for printing if required. This PC need not be logged in to CATERMAN. Think of it as a kitchen printer.
So, here are several possible scenarios for your outlet operation:-
a) Your customer is at home, in one of your delivery post code areas. He logs into his account with you, and selects the items he wants, decides to pay cash on delivery, and commits the order for delivery in two hours time at 9.00pm. At your outlet, an audio warning sounds (optionally) and the order appears on the PC containing the items ordered, the time to be delivered, the time the order must be ready (to allow for delivery time), the cost of the order plus the cost of delivery, the name, house name/number and post code of the customer, and his email and telephone number should you wish to contact him for any reason.
b) Your customer decides he wants to pick up an order in one hour's time. He places the order as above (remember, internet orders are typically 20% more value than phone orders according to press articles), he arrives at the outlet at the appointed time, provides identification (if you don't know him) and his order number, pays for it unless he has prepaid via his account, collects the order which is freshly prepared ready for him, and departs.
c) Your customer is out for the evening with a companion. He decides to pick up a meal on the way home at 9:00pm. He composes a text message containing the item numbers he requires and the time of pick up (this takes an average teenage text user less than a minute) and sends it. He arrives at your outlet 9:00pm, pops in and picks up his order, and is on his way at 9:01pm or very shortly after.
d) Your customer arrives at your cafeteria, takes a seat, studies the menu, texts his selection, and shortly afterwards his order is announced as ready for collection, he walks to the counter and picks it up. Of course, he could have pre-ordered and saved waiting time.
There is a lot more to CATERMAN than the above, as you will see from the information on this website.
Why not try it for yourself, and pretend you are a customer of GreenFrog Chinese Restaurant and Take-Away There is a menu showing opening times (remember, although you can order 24 by 7, you can only order for pick up during opening times, and for delivery if you have a postcode starting BG when you must allow for delivery time as well). Please do not pay any money on to your (fictitious) account! No order will actually be fulfilled!