Can I Take Your Order?

So you have decided to open your very own quick-service restaurant (QSR)?  Or, you have decided to rethink the way you are currently doing things.  Well, besides the no-brainers like your menu offerings, staff, interior design and all the red tape you need to rip down before opening, I would recommend that you put some thought in to how you make people order.  The operative word in QSR is quick and choosing the right approach for your restaurant can and will go a long way in determining your overall turnaround time, customer satisfaction and profitability.  Each style has its own unique advantages for a given environment, so… choose wisely!

Straight lines from multiple points-of-sale (POS)  

McDonalds and Burger King immediately come to mind when thinking about this particular approach.  Typically there are 2-5 registers that are dispersed along the counter that lines form in front of.  Orders are placed, money exchanged, and then it is on to the next person.  This is the quickest way to have people move “through the till,” however it has to make business sense to invest in the additional equipment and manpower to man the registers.  Put another way, you need to do high volume.

When to use this method: Narrow ordering area, room for 2+ POS (aka registers), and enough depth for queuing customers

Using stanchions

When there is less room in front of the counter, using stanchions can be very helpful.  In doing so you are able to “herd” people up to the counter, which limits the chaos and potential confusion of “who is next.”  It provides ample time for people to choose what they want, and all but eliminates the opportunity for anxiety that could arise if they didn’t know how or what to order.  Additionally, directing customers in this fashion opens up other advertising zones.  With every turn, a banner, floor stand or other signage should be pointing in their face, promoting limited time offers and specials.

When to use this method: High volume, narrow ordering area, shallow customer queuing depth

Over the counter – wait & pay   

Delis, bagel stores and quick-service Chinese restaurants are notorious for using this option; and what do they all have in common?  They have display cases.  Generally speaking, people look at what they want to order and deliver that message to someone waiting on the flip-side of the counter.  From there, it is a waiting game for your meal and then they proceed to checkout.  Although very beneficial, there is no denying that display cases slow down the ordering process.  It goes without saying that queuing people up would be a huge detriment to getting people in, fed, and out.  Not to mention that it would create panic (although minor) for a lot of people who step up to a display case with a line of people behind them.  They would feel pressured to place an order quickly.  Simply put, if you have a display case, don’t line people up!

When to use this method: When you have display cases

Select & move along

Subway, Chipotle, and a recent client of ours, Blacklime, are examples of this ordering technique.  In fact, this theme is becoming more and more popular.  If this so happens to be the path you would like to take, there are four important factors to keep in mind.  They are as follows:

  1. You have to have the particular ordering methodology.  What that looks like is a step-by-step ordering process.  For example, “pick your bread, pick your starch, pick your veggies, etc.”
  2. You need to have display cases.  This coincides with the ordering methodology.  As you select, you are being moved down the line with your requests being applied to your meal.
  3. The food has to be prepared.  Sandwiches, burritos, falafels, or whatever, have to be “built” in real-time.  There is no time to wait for something to cook because a bottleneck in production would form quickly, irritating everybody involved.
  4. More than one employee is necessary to work the line efficiently.  Other than the REALLY slow periods of the day, you must be willing to dedicate at least two people to the line.  During peak times, you’d be best served by having multiple people spread throughout the display cases to work as a factory line.

When to use this method: When using the appropriate ordering method, a long counter, and display cases

To Summarize:

  • Taking control of how you make people order at your restaurant can have a big impact on your business
  • Every approach carries with it its own list of benefits
  • Factors such as display cases, volume, counter space, and ordering method are key when decided which would work best
  • Satisfied customers, increased profitability, optimal use of space and quicker turnaround times are some of the results you can achieve if you take the right route

Want to discuss your location in detail?  Need some further explanation?  Give me a call today at 888-235-2579!