Using Your POS System to Promote Kitchen Efficiency

POS systems have morphed from simple electronic cash registers to point-of-sale systems that process orders quickly to technology marvels that track inventory, labor demands, and customer preferences. Two of the top features that restaurateurs look for in a POS system are inventory control and the depth of reporting. It is this reporting that can actually help maximize the efficiency in your kitchen.


Average Fulfillment Time

This is one of the most important metrics as it gives you a clear picture of how much time it’s taking for your customers to be served after placing their order. Making sure that you have sufficient staff on hand to prepare orders not only ensures happy guests, but also an increase in turnovers that adds nicely to your bottom line. Of course, time varies dramatically depending on the type of establishment such as fast casual or full service.

Average fulfillment times are displayed every hour, which gives you a clear picture of any problem areas. For instance, you notice that it’s taking twice as long to fulfill orders during the 7pm rush. This gives you the opportunity to take stock of your kitchen staff at this time and determine if another pair of hands can speed up food preparation or if a particular staff member may require additional training…or more caffeine.

Take note of what expeditors or BOH managers are on duty to see if there is a pattern. If you find a certain staff member is in charge when fulfillment times are lagging, it’s time to train them in the art of “jumping in where needed”—one of the essential skills in any restaurant.

Some POS systems allow you to color code tickets in order to draw attention to orders that are taking too long to fill. For instance, if an order is not fulfilled within a specified amount of time it then turns red, directing your staff to the importance of making this ticket a priority. This keeps a busy kitchen from losing track and getting distracted.


Fulfillment Times by Prep Station

If you want to get a little more in-depth in regards to fulfillment times, take a look at the report that identifies how long the orders are taking at each of your prep stations. If it’s apparent that one of your dishes takes longer than most to prepare, be sure to make note of that on your menu or ask your servers to relay that information when someone orders that particular item. It’s much better to have a knowledgeable customer prepared to wait a bit longer for your delectable paella than sit at the table impatiently drumming their fingers and berating your server.

You can also configure prep times so that individual items are fired to the kitchen based on the time they take to prepare. This ensures that meals come out fresh, at the correct temperature for each item, and that all members of a party are served at the same time. In some POS systems, this is defined as “coursing.” It enables a server to put an entire order in the system at one time, and then let the system dictate when the order is delivered to the different prep stations. This approach leads to less “forgotten” items and expeditors rushing to the kitchen with a priority order.


Inventory Control

Using your POS system to help you control inventory helps control waste and ensures you have efficient items on hand to fulfill orders. Best practices suggests that controlling your inventory is one of the most important things you can do for both efficiency and profitability. If you make no other changes, controlling this aspect of your business can boost your profits by an estimated 50 percent.

Using a POS system for inventory control means that your stock is updated with every sale. When a certain item is getting low, some systems will warn the BOH who can then take the necessary steps to remove it from the menu or alter the recipe a bit. Knowing every ingredient that goes into a dish ensures food costs and prices are in line.

As many of you know, syncing your FOH and BOH is one of the key elements to a restaurant’s success. Improving workflow through the use of your POS system can help transform a chaotic kitchen into a smooth operation.



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