Creating a great experience for restaurant guests and operating efficiently means keeping the front of house and back of house in sync. But that can be a challenge for any restaurant–whether large or small.
The front-of-house staff are out there dealing with the customers. They’re the face of the operation, and if a customer is kept waiting, a menu item is unexpectedly out of stock, or the food is simply not up to a customer’s tastes, they’re the ones who have to toggle between server and customer support. They’re the ones who have to serve up good food and a good experience while dealing with customer complaints–often at the same time.
Meanwhile, a restaurant’s back of house is inevitably a high-stress environment. They’re responsible for creating the food your guests will love under intense time pressure, and with little ability to talk to the customers themselves. They usually see the rush coming in and know when they’re about to get slammed. And, they understandably get frustrated if servers promise something the kitchen can’t deliver–whether that’s an impossible turnaround time, a menu item that’s already sold out, or an unworkable modification request.
Ultimately, communication is the key to ensuring that front of house and back of house staff work together smoothly. Business owners and managers set the tone, and things like “family meal” can help build relationships—and provide a venue for timely announcements about what to expect from a busy shift.
Tech tools can also help, by streamlining your restaurant’s operations so that all staff can focus more on communication and teamwork. Here are 4 types of apps that can make your restaurant’s kitchen run more smoothly:
Kitchen display apps help streamline communication between the front of house and the kitchen. Typically, these apps allow servers to key in orders, which are then automatically displayed back in the kitchen. That way, all staff can see how many orders are coming in—kitchen staff will know in real time when a rush begins, and servers can see a long queue of orders and help adjust customer expectations (and push appetizers) in advance. These apps also make it easy to see how long individual customers have been waiting for their food, so staff can work together to minimize wait times and address potential problems. Apps like ChefTab KDS Interface, Kitchen Display App, Spice App KDS, Applova Simple Kitchen Display System, and Zen KDS all display orders as they come in and help staff stay on top of a dinner rush. And if you’re taking online orders, an app like Menufy can help you manage those orders directly in your POS system.
Nothing can screw up a dinner rush faster than an unexpected staffing issue—on either side of the front-of-house/back-of-house divide. A scheduling app can help streamline the process of ensuring you’ve got the team you need for every shift. The Time Clock app by Homebase not only streamlines scheduling, but automatically reminds employees about their shifts, tracks their hours, and integrates directly with payroll. 7Shifts offers integrated chat tools to help you manage shift change and time off requests. Streamlining scheduling and staff communication will free your managers up to focus on making sure each shift runs smoothly, instead of getting tied up making calls and juggling last-minute employee requests. You can also consider a tip management app like TipHaus, which can help you automate tip pooling to keep things fair for both front and back of house staff.
You can’t completely guarantee that you’ll never run out of your most popular dish on a busy night. But you can manage your inventory in a way that makes that stressful scenario much less likely. A good inventory management app can help you get a bird’s-eye view of everything in your kitchen, automatically alert you when it’s time to reorder key ingredients, and help you track costs ingredient by ingredient and menu item by menu item. With inflation still on the rise, inventory management is also crucial to keeping your costs under control and protecting your profit margin. Try an app like Restaurant 365, MarketMan, or SimpleOrder to stay on top of what’s in your walk-in.
Managing back of house operations well is critical, but don’t neglect the front of house, either. Do everything you can to streamline and automate as much of the customer management as possible, so your front of house staff can focus on adding the personal touches that keep customers happy while they wait. Apps like SeatOn or Waitlist Me, for example, can manage reservations and wait lists, helping your host and servers give customers accurate wait times. Clover Dining or Clavo Tables can help you manage your floor plan, assign sections or tables to specific servers, and split checks easily. And, Clover Scan to Order and Scan to Pay, free with Clover’s dining plans, offer guests more control over when and how they order and pay, while helping short-staffed restaurants keep operations flowing.
Look for apps that will help take tasks off your staff’s to-do lists. The more your basic operations run smoothly and even automatically, the more your front of house and back of house staff can focus on doing what they do best: delighting your customers with memorable meals.
Be sure to peruse Clover App Market for even more apps designed to keep restaurants operation smoothly.