We all have to eat, but whether or not we go for a ‘by the clock’ breakfast, lunch and dinner, or have a more ‘grab and go’ anytime approach, it’s important for hospitality providers to have the right foods in, at the right time, for their customers.
It’s often not that easy though. Even before Covid-19 arrived and turned the working world upside down, lunchtimes often meant employees making a mad dash to the canteen or local cafe to buy food before the lunchtime rush began. Or timing breaks around busy purchasing periods so the whole break wasn’t spent queuing. Covid-19 safety protocols remain critical, even as we look towards a way through the pandemic, systems need to be implemented that support social distancing and keep everyone both fed and safe!
Technology solutions can offer answers to many of the issues faced by workplace caterers, now, and moving forward. However, in these challenging times, it’s more important than ever that investment in systems should generate high ROI and not just short-term protection. Any such investment should help futureproof catering – delivering benefits for management, employees, and catering staff beyond Covid-19.
Integrated pre-order software is one such technology solution which can support safety and create better customer service, whilst driving improvements and efficiency in catering operations.
Here’s a quick rundown of the key attributes of pre-order technology and what to look for when selecting a pre-order app:
- Reduced queueing and faster service are perhaps the foremost benefits of pre-order. By offering the opportunity to order in advance, the order process is spread out, allowing canteens and cafes to generate two streams onsite – those who want to order on the day and those who are picking up pre-ordered meals. During Covid-19 this makes social distancing easier as the faster pre-order pickup can be separated from other till points. The benefits are ongoing though, with speedy service and less queuing helping caterers serve more people, faster, and diners spend less time waiting to order and pay for meals.
- Attractive mobile menu displays via pre-order apps help employees take their time over meal selection. As such, they can better plan their food choices over the week. Menus can be easily updated with seasonal offerings, whilst nutritional and allergen information can be clearly displayed and reviewed. Early ordering puts customers in control and customisations can be made or requested via the app. No more awkward requests orprocrastination in the cafeteria queue! Pre-order software should also be integrated with catering stock management so menu items can be marked automatically out of stock.
- Advance and cashless payments are fully supported by pre-order. The amount of cash onsite is reduced – a must for Covid-19, and important for the future. Meal collection is made faster by allowing advance payments, but a seamless flow of transactions can be generated through the set-up of contactless and mobile payments at food collection points. Discounts can be applied automatically on the app through customer accounts, so staff are guaranteed the correct meal discounts.
- The quality of customer service can be improved through greater personalisation. Pre-order can be linked to loyalty programmes and customer accounts for individuals, creating a more rewarding experience. The pre-order process can be speeded up by storing past orders and allowing customers to easily reorder their favourites.
- Pop-up food collection stations can easily be created. Offering more food pickup points during Covid-19 helps employees socially distance and, if they are working in designated bubbles or cohorts, remain within these. Renting PoS tills or card machines helps improve the flexibility and affordability of these offerings.
- Integration and simplicity is key when it comes to pre-order. Any system should be able to fully integrate with existing EPoS, payments and stock management software. Pre-order that is integrated with kitchen management systems sends pre-ordered items and meals through to kitchen video screens for preparation automatically at the right time. This helps management not only save time, but also reduces errors and ensures wastage is minimised.
- Pre-order technology can help both sustainability and the bottom line for catering businesses. A more efficient and productive kitchen can be created through the support pre-order offers by allowing more preparation and planning. Advance knowledge of a percentage of daily orders helps make ordering more accurate, thus reducing food waste.
Alongside enabling workplace catering to improve their offering and to be more prepared, pre-ordering gives more flexibility to customers, saving them precious time and supporting safety protocols. Having the opportunity to order and pay for meals in advance allows busy employees to make the most of breaks and fully enjoy their mealtimes, which can help boost morale and productivity in the workplace.