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How Can Commercial Kitchens Better Cater to Rising Consumer Demands

graphic of person selecting food on a mobile app

The nation is in the thralls of a fast food revolution; there more types of cuisine available then ever before and the likes of Uber Eats and Deliveroo mean that we can now get a wider choice of dishes delivered directly to our front door.

High street restaurants are under pressure and yet the takeaway and delivery giants are booming. Efficiency and convenience is more important than ever, but such demands can be difficult to meet when food needs to be prepared and served quickly, tables cleaned and reset, and customers provided with a service worth paying extra for. In fact, according to the Institute of Customer Service, 60% of UK consumers will not accept low service levels in exchange for a lower priced product, but prefer a balance of price and service.

David Khanna, our Operations Director here at Arolite, provides his take on how commercial kitchens can make use of technology and data to support them in their quest to meet the ever changing and growing demands of today’s consumers.

Incorporate Data into Your Commercial Catering Management

With improvements in technology in most areas of a commercial kitchen, catering managers suddenly have access to incredibly useful data. With the right technology and knowhow, you can analyse the information being gathered from your kitchens into how and when the equipment is being used and maintained and how this information might be utilised to improve operational efficiencies and bottom line results.

When interpreted correctly, equipment data can help cut down on some of the more tedious, manual tasks, and guesswork – making your operations much more efficiently.

 Making informed decisions about how to optimise your assets

If your current equipment is in a poor state and not optimised for your business’s needs, then you face an uphill struggle of downtime and obsolescence. The best case scenario is that your service is slow or there are holes in your offering, worst case scenario is that obsolete, outdated or poorly maintained assets could be the cause of a kitchen disaster – potentially putting the viability of your business at risk whilst perhaps affecting the wellbeing of your staff and customers. In many cases, ignorance is just not worth the risk.

You’ve got the data, so before upgrading or replacing any equipment, you need to properly identify what you have in your estate. Informed, qualified decisions cannot be made until all assets are accounted for and assessed. Asset tagging can be a huge timesaver in helping keep an up to date inventory of your estate. Each piece of equipment should have a unique asset ID reference that catering or bar staff can refer to when reporting a fault. This makes it much quicker and easier to identify faulty equipment and doesn’t rely on on-site staff having an in-depth understanding of the asset.

By keeping a database of asset ID’s and their issues or servicing needs over time, you’ll have a much better idea of where you’re already gaining maximum efficiency and where you have scope to improve or replace assets with better performing equipment. This will have positive implications across the business, resulting in a more complete and efficient offering for the customer.

Use technology to identify better use of space 

A common problem with commercial kitchens or catering facilities is the lack of space. Many simply aren’t big enough to cope with a high number of orders and quick turnarounds required, unlike fast food outlets. With space at a premium, restaurants and commercial kitchens have to work with what they’ve got and must now look at how they can optimise the customer experience, encouraging repeat business and an increase in spending.

Thankfully, implementing new technologies and innovations can help catering facilities make the best use of their available space.

Nowadays, more and more pieces of catering equipment combine the different functions of multiple units into one, so kitchens can utilise different cooking methods simultaneously and dramatically speed up cooking times. The latest innovation from Cibo is a good example of this, it’s new combi oven features three different heat sources and a range of cooking programmes to cook freshly prepared meals in only 2-3 minutes.

Reducing the amount of equipment your facilities need helps to alleviate the pressure to use up additional floor space, meaning you can accomplish just as much in a smaller area without any decrease in quality or offering.

Convenience and speed are key in the age of instant gratification, so if your equipment is helping meet these types of demands, you’ll find customers coming back for more.

Adjust and Adapt to Customer Needs

Convenience is what keeps customers coming back time and time again. It is inevitable that every business, no matter its product or service, will need to work on providing real speed and convenience whether it’s to the public or other companies. It’s not enough any more to simply solve a problem or fulfil a need, you have to do it better and faster than anyone else and be there for your audience, wherever they may be either in the real world or online.

But how can commercial catering facilities fulfil a promise of fast service if there isn’t an awareness of what assets are on-site, what their capabilities and weaknesses are, or how much they’re used? How can you optimise your space or improve efficiencies? You can’t. Data and a firm grasp of emerging technologies will help keep you ahead of the game and give you the answers you need to improve efficiencies and, ultimately, save money.

‘Connected’ kitchens are no longer part of a sci-fi future, they’re here and with them comes the streamlining or elimination of time-sapping tasks. Keeping a finger on the pulse of innovation is more important than ever before. Not every kitchen needs to look like the inside of a space ship, but knowing what’s out there and understanding when you’ve pushed your equipment to its limits is still important.

Effective equipment maintenance, support and asset tagging don’t need to cost the earth. Find out about how we help support commercial catering facilities and kitchens around the country with equipment management needs.