Choosing the best kitchen management software can be a real struggle. There are dozens of services out there, each claiming to be the best - but we all know there can be only one. So how should restauranteurs, business owners, and restaurant management go about shopping for the best kitchen management software system for their kitchen?
If you’re stuck asking that exact question, you’re in the right place - that’s precisely what we’re covering today. Several important factors need to be accounted for when shopping for your subsequent software integration, and not all are as cut-and-dry as “how cheap is it?”
So let’s not waste any time and instead just dive right in, shall we?
We’ll start with the simple, super basic stuff. Things like easy integration, order tracking, and menu management are pretty basic features, but there are several extra features that most restauranteurs don’t even know exist!
So let’s break down the key features you’ll want when selecting the best kitchen management software for your restaurant.
We all know that online ordering and delivery are here to stay. It was initially a trend, but the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic changed many things in the restaurant industry, and this is one of the most significant changes that’s not going anywhere.
As such, it seems pretty fair that restauranteurs that want to remain in the game will need to have a means of taking online orders and, importantly, tracking them. Knowing where your orders are and when is vital to ensuring you can maintain a happy customer base. And if you’ve already tried to dip your toes into the proverbial water of third-party delivery, you know what I’m about to say.
The term you’ve been trying to find to describe the absolute torture of running multiple tablets along with a POS is tablet hell. In short, tablet hell is “The term for the chaos that ensues when orders roll in from all three of your third-party delivery apps (each on separate tablets) alongside your own store’s regular rush. Think ‘in the weeds,’ but glowed up for the 21st century.”
A high-quality kitchen management software/middleware setup will ensure this is an issue of the past. And it ties in with our next subject - integration.
This is another vital part of selecting the best kitchen management software. Integration is the name of the game in restaurant software, specifically because there are so freakin’ many POS and third-party delivery systems out there.
From Square to Grubhub’s proprietary ordering and delivery-tracking software, it’s super important that you can integrate with them all. And importantly, it needs to be easy. Whether you’re a restaurant owner, GM, chef, or something in between, effortless integration is the name of the game here.
This may seem obvious, but it bears repeating - the more time you save when setting up secondary and tertiary parts of your business (software, paperwork, etc.), the less time you have to work on the truly crucial aspects of your business. So save yourself some time and get an effortlessly simple kitchen management software that makes your life easier.
The next most crucial bit you’ll need from the best kitchen management software is easy-to-use and straightforward KPI and statistic tracking. While this is probably old news to the restauranteurs and owners out there who’ve been in the game for a while, the industry is chock-full of new blood in the field, and it’s only fair that we tell them the secrets, too.
For the uninformed, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are one of the most important indicators of your business’s health. With a high-quality kitchen management system, the days of painstakingly taking handwritten notes in a dimly-lit office are over. A genuinely intuitive kitchen management software system will track each of the most crucial performance indicators in your business.
While the linked article above will break this all down in (perhaps too much) detail, here are a few KPIs that most high-end kitchen management software systems will track:
There are far too many other KPIs to track, but each of these is excellent to keep an eye out for when window shopping. If you find a restaurant middleware or management software system that doesn’t track these (and more) - run.
Next up is the lifeblood of every restaurant - the food. Your menus and recipes are what keep the foot traffic coming, the doors open, and (occasionally) the Back of House in chaos. If you want to avoid that chaos, though, there’s an easy solution often left at the wayside - keep them all in a centralized place.
This is often done in the old-school three-ring binder method, but it’s the 21st-century, babe - it’s time to upgrade.
By upgrade, I think you know what I mean - it’s time to digitize that menu. We’ve already covered the importance of online ordering, and having an online menu is the first and (realistically) most crucial part of kicking off that process. A high-quality kitchen management software system will allow you a single place to adjust and tweak your menus as needed and will let you do it to all of your menus. Yes, that means you’ll be able to change your restaurant’s in-house menu alongside the GrubHub, DoorDash, and other third-party services’ menus, too!
Having easy access to your menu is essential for more than you think. It affects your ability to order your inventory correctly, when/how much labor you schedule to prepare the menu each day, and generally informs every aspect of your restaurant. After all, without a menu, you wouldn’t have a restaurant, would you?
So why would you pick a kitchen management system that does anything other than making your menu effortless to monitor and tweak as needed?
Modularity is another crucial part of picking the right kitchen management software. Being able to pick and choose which tools you need and when allows a few essential things to happen:
This is one of the more obvious bits of a modular kitchen management software system. With one-stop-shop systems, you’re stuck (generally, not always) with a single “tier” of service. This means you pay a single flat rate and get access to a swathe of features, which for some businesses is ideal - but not for all.
If you’re just getting going, or, for example, you run a food truck or ghost kitchen, it’s likely that you’re paying for features you simply don’t need. And there’s no sense in wasting money on features you’ll never use, is there?
This is where modularity comes into play. Services like Cuboh offer tiered pricing, allowing you to pick and choose what you need for your business. If you’re not making $30k+ per month in online ordering revenue, you don’t need the top-notch services Cuboh offers. And, because we’ve been in your shoes, we won’t press it. We let you pick and choose what serves you the best - as it should be.
On that same note, if you’re slowly growing in popularity, you’ll eventually reach a point where you do need all of those extra features. And if you’re trying to get into the online ordering game, you’ll likely see a pretty quick boost in revenue. We want you to be prepared for that, which is (once again) why we don’t have a “one-size-fits-all” service.
If your business starts to pick up seemingly out of nowhere, you don’t want the bottleneck to be your software. So opt for a system that grows with your business rather than one that tells you what you need; that’s not cool.
And finally, using a modular kitchen management software system allows you to see how your business improves over time. You’ll begin with the bare minimum setup (more likely than not), and as time goes on, you’ll find that now you need KPI tracking or more flexibility with your online menu.
If you opted for a “one-size-fits-all system,” you’d be out of luck - but with modular systems, you can physically see as your business grows and more features are added. It’s both incredibly satisfying and makes it much easier to get a visual read on your business’s health.
Old-school owners and chefs often forget that many tasks previously relegated to management can now be left to your kitchen software. Things like managing cleaning tasks, staying on top of food safety and temperature checks, and transparent processes for emergency situations (such as a kitchen fire) can now be managed from one place.
Gone are the days of rattling off tasks to the brigade, expecting a “heard, chef” followed by the sudden milling about of multiple chefs. Nowadays, they can each check in on your seamlessly integrated kitchen management software and find what needs to be done.
This frees up management and ownership to deal with more important tasks and allows the Back of House to be a bit more independent - which is (almost) always a good thing.
It’s no secret that kitchens take all sorts. Some of the brightest men and women I’ve ever met were lowly line cooks - but unfortunately, that’s an exception rather than the rule. As such, it’s absolutely crucial that any kitchen management software you get is incredibly easy to use. While you may be able to understand it, and your GM may be able to figure it out, if you want it to do its job to the fullest extent, the system needs to be easy for everyone to understand.
It’s the same idea as shopping for a POS. Sure, some POS systems are incredibly user-friendly, but others are so convoluted it’s apparent that the people who made them have never worked in the service industry. So while you can absolutely take the time to train and teach each crew member to understand your system, it’s always better to have one that’s built from the ground up to be super simple to use.
It’s also worth remembering that training can get expensive, and every second you spend teaching your employees to use this new system is time that could’ve been used to prep food, clean the lobby, or deep clean the walk-in.
In short, the truth of the situation is that idiot-proof (read, intuitively designed and streamlined) kitchen management software actively saves you money in the long run.
All in all, selecting the best kitchen management software for your business is no simple task. You need to keep a multitude of factors in mind, from how easy it is to scale the software with your company to secondary features like KPI and statistic tracking. Each of these will inform you as to your business’s health and allow you to make tweaks as needed to keep the ship in tip-top shape.
Ultimately, when shopping for new software integration, look for ease of use, effortless integration, menu/online order tracking and management, task management, and KPI/statistic tracking features. Luckily for you, Cuboh offers all of this and more, alongside excellent customer service, dedicated support, and realistic pricing directly tied to the size of your business. So stop looking and book a demo today - I promise you won’t regret it.