Series Part III: Digital signage software beyond the order counter
By Stuart Armstrong/ ComQi Group President
For many working in food service today, their work is strictly a "job," not a career. That fact is proven in the industry's employee turnover rates alone, with a typical fast-food restaurant fully replacing its entire staff of employees annually. Among the many problems this creates, one of the most significant when it comes to safety and communication involves the ongoing need to get critical messages in front of staff members as they cycle in throughout the days, weeks and months.
This is an area that's often overlooked when food service companies start down the path toward converting their stores' visual communications to digital formats. By installing screens in the so-called "back of house," some very real pain points revolving around a constantly changing and mobile workforce whose members have little time to devote to formal training.
In this respect, digital can be a crucial member of the team when it comes to accomplishing four important jobs that are critical to your business, albeit out of yours customers' view. These include:
1. Enhanced equipment and safety training: Kitchens are full of ovens, dryers, sharp utensils and slippery surfaces. Digital screens can powerfully reinforce workplace safety while promoting food safety and reducing operators' liability risks and employees' lost workdays.
2. Improved employee product knowledge and customer service:Operators in the hyper-competitive restaurant business thrive or suffer based on their customer service and engagement quality. Digital is custom-made to keep everyone on the same page every day, while also very effectively demonstrating best practices for engaging customers, speaking effectively and staying up-to-date on promotions and LTOs.
3. Communicating with deskless workers from headquarters and elsewhere:Typically, restaurant staff aren't issued desktop PCs, mobile devices or email addresses, making employee-accessible digital screens the most effective method for everything from information about wages and pay, to motivational messaging as employees move though their days.
4. Constant, objective performance measurement:Screens tied to management systems can provide real-time displays of each team's key metrics involving everything from in-store service and drive-through ordering times, to delivery and even customer feedback. Today, old-school LED readouts are replaced by dynamic charting displays and other visual cues to show teams how they are performing right as they go through their days.
The bottom line on software and digital signs
When implemented thoughtfully and well, the kind of effective back-of-house communications that digital can provide raises the likelihood that turnover rates will slow, as has been proven by reams of research showing employees are happier when they know what's going on and whether their work is noticed and appreciated.
Additionally, digital signage provides smart, interactive ways for engaging customers in meaningful ways, like interactive screens for ordering, paying, avoiding lines and even interaction for customers who seek that on some days. This is a fast, accurate option with customization features, too, that can ease operations for managers, streamline payments and reduce waste.
"When we work with customers, we're always looking to apply tools that are going to make the visitor experience better in some way," said Ifhar. "The user experience has to be easy and intuitive, and the real work is behind the screen, integrating with the point of sales system efficiently and accurately."
In this respect, ordering screens lead double lives when designed properly since they don't sit idle when not in use, but continue to show "attract" content to engage customers, communicate promotions and other offers, and help operators communicate with diners. Digital makes sense and saves cents in that way, not to mention helping operators stay within the rules of a game that seems to be constantly changing.