Using Technology to Improve Process and Systems in Your Coffee Shop
First time cafe or coffee shop owners can sometimes feel at a loss to know how they can improve the systems and processes they use in their business – to work less hours.
Once you have optimised your processes and made your systems as efficient as humanly possible, it’s time to consider other options for making improvements.
Technology in particular has the potential to significantly improve systems and processes in a cafe. Helping to eliminate communication problems so that your team is working together harmoniously, reduce food and safety risks to protect your customers and staff; and minimise fraud to protect your income.
8 Ways Technology Can Improve Processes in Your Cafe
Here are eight ways that technology can be used in your cafe to improve your systems and processes:
1. Online and mobile ordering systems
These systems allow customers to place orders online or through a mobile app, reducing the need for customers to physically wait to place an order. This helps to provide a more relaxed experience for customers who have greater certainty that their order has been placed. It also reduces pressure on front-of-house staff cashiers so that they can focus more on customer service for dine-in customers and managing order collections with delivery couriers.
2. Point-of-sale (POS) systems
POS systems allow waiting staff to take orders that are immediately updated to the kitchen staff. Some POS systems also allow customers to place orders directly from their table. Digital ordering reduces the number of incorrectly placed orders from customer-to-waiter-to-kitchen team. Reducing waste caused by ordering errors and giving you a difficult to fraud audit trail of customer orders and purchases.
3. Kitchen display systems (KDS)
KDSs are computer systems that display orders as they are placed, allowing kitchen staff to see what needs to be prepared and in what order. They are for the kitchen staff what POS is for the waiting staff. These system improve workflow efficiency of the kitchen by keeping waiting staff from interrupting as they deliver orders. KDSs give the kitchen team more control over their own work processes.
4. Stock management systems
These systems allow cafe owners and your kitchen team to track inventory in real-time. Errors in supplier orders are quickly picked up, helping to ensure that the cafe is well-stocked. Reducing the risks of running out of essential items and ‘shrinkage’ and waste caused by over ordering and expired goods. Stock management systems prevent unnecessarily tying up money in stock on hand.
5. Equipment automation
Devices such as dish washers and microwave ovens which run until their timer switches them off are great time savers in a cafe. Any food or beverage preparation equipment that does not need a person to stand over it while it completes its function can improve your processes. From self-cleaning fridges to thermostat controlled air-conditioning, using the functionality of your cafe equipment to its highest performance without the need for a person is great for improving systems and workflow.
6. Electronic probes, gauges and measures
These devices accurately measure all manner of things in your cafe. From the temperature of food to the number of people walking in and out your cafe door. Electronic monitoring devices are useful for many different things in your business. Temperature probes reduce unnecessary checking on the state of readiness, light sensors turn off lights when they’re not needed to save on electricity, digital scales ensure that the correct quantities are used to prevent variations and waste.
7. Customer management systems
From customer databases to loyalty apps, there are many software applications that help cafe business owners to better understand and communicate with your customers. Software apps that allow cafe owners to record information about customers, email marketing messages to them, gather feedback from customers as well as analyse buying data. Providing easy ways to collect, store and review information about your customers that fit easily into the ways you provide customer service.
8. Digital promotions
Online marketing through social media is less time consuming when you use digital tools that make preparing and publishing content easier. Instead of struggling to think about what to write – use an AI (like GPT4 which can write hundreds of social posts within minutes), use a design tool to make your post look good (using canva.com that has thousands of design templates) then a scheduling tool (like hootsuite.com to pre-prepare social media posts for months ahead). Use technology to cut down the time it takes to do your own cafe business marketing.
Overall, technology can significantly improve systems and processes in a cafe. By implementing online and mobile ordering systems, using a POS system, implementing a KDS, utilising an inventory management system, implementing a CRM system, using electronic temperature probes, gathering customer feedback, utilising social media, and implementing online marketing techniques, cafe owners can improve efficiency, reduce wait times, improve customer satisfaction, and draw customers to their cafe.