As more venues embrace mobile ordering this year, operators are increasingly noticing the importance of operations in a successful rollout. Having an easy-to-use platform is only half the battle won, ultimately it comes down to the execution.
Our team has 6+ years of experience working with hundreds of venues nationwide to tailor a rollout strategy with them. Throughout the process, we have observed some common best practices and potential pitfalls before a venue officially launches mobile ordering. Therefore we have compiled this operational checklist for you to set the right expectations and prepare accordingly before the first rollout.
1. Set the right expectations
More often than not, a less-than-ideal initial rollout can be attributed to misaligned expectations around what it takes to fulfill an order and how many orders you might see. There are a few numbers you want to have a rough estimate of, even if you don’t have the exact answers.
- Attendance expectations
Do you expect to see 200 people showing up or 800? From there you can gauge how many orders you’re likely to receive and staff accordingly.
- What’s your average order fulfillment time now without mobile ordering?
While mobile ordering over time can effectively speed up foodservice operations (sometimes reducing the overall fulfillment time by 75% at our partner venues!), you want to take it slow in the beginning. If it takes you on average 5 minutes to complete an order, you might not want to open yourself up to 50 orders over a 30-minute period. Be conservative with your estimate in the beginning, and you will speed up over time.
If at any point your kitchen is overwhelmed with orders, you can turn off the store to pause incoming orders. With FanFood, you also have the capability to set a maximum order number cap within certain time intervals. All these are to mitigate the risk of leaving your customers hungry and hanging.
2. Don’t use delivery as the only option for people to receive their orders
While we all love the convenience of having our food brought to us, we don’t really advise that being the only way to get orders. This is because you always run into the risks of having more orders than your runners can deliver, resulting in customer frustration. On the other hand, if you have express pickup available, those who don’t mind a quick run can always choose to grab their food themselves, rather than having to wait around for a runner to come by.
- How long does it take for the runner to reach the farthest seat in the venues?
It’s easy to be overly ambitious about how quickly you can deliver an order. But the truth of the matter is, on the event day itself, the runner will likely be assigned orders leading them to opposite ends of the venue, while often having to struggle through a crowded concourse. This will greatly prolong the delivery time.
We recommend that you time how long it takes for a runner to walk over to the farthest seat in the venue, and try to be as conservative about the estimated delivery time as possible.
- Always over staff your first event
We’ll break down the staffing composition later in this blog, but as a rule of thumb, you want to over staff the first event when you roll out mobile ordering. Don’t worry, very likely you won’t be needing more staff in subsequent events, but you want to be careful in the beginning to account for unexpected scenarios.
3. Set up multiple pickup lanes
Unless you only have a small concession stand with very light turnout, as much as possible you want to have multiple pickup lanes or pickup locations to speed up the process. In addition, this helps you disperse the crowd and comply with social distancing. People can select the pickup lane or location nearest to them when placing the order, and the more orders you can get out to the customers means the more room your team has for incoming orders.
4. Assign clear roles for everyone on the team
While mobile ordering can technically remove the need for a cashier, you might need to assign your team new roles to adapt to the new operational model.
- Manager Portal operator
This person is basically the quarterback of your entire operation. They’re in charge of running the Manager Portal and managing the order progress within the system. This includes clicking on the “Grab”, “Complete Order” and “Mark as Done” buttons as the order is being fulfilled. These button clicks will also send real-time order status updates to customers on their phone.
When necessary, this operator will also take other actions such as marking an item as out of stock, change the pricing of the items, respond to support chats, refund orders and send push notifications.
- Order communication between the Manager Portal and kitchen
We’ll elaborate on this role later in this blog. Basically you want someone to ensure the accurate communication of order details to the kitchen as they show up within the Manager Portal. This role, however, can also be replaced by an automatic printer when you sign up with FanFood.
- Runner / Server
If you choose to offer delivery to seat, table or suite, make sure you have enough runners to cover every section of the venue where you roll out delivery services, and keep the average delivery time under a certain threshold. Even if you don’t offer delivery, but want to set up remote pickup locations, you also want to assign someone to drop off orders at those locations.
- Hot food fulfillment
Hot food and main course such as burgers and hot dogs typically take the longest to prepare, and you probably want to have one or multiple people focused on fulfilling those orders.
- Cold food and snack fulfillment
This includes already prepared food like popcorn, candies, drinks, pre-packaged salads and more. It typically takes just minutes to assemble orders like these, and you want to get these orders ready to go as fast as possible.
5. Ensure effective order communication between the Manager Portal and the kitchen
Inaccurate or slow communication of orders can often lead to slower or even the breakdown of operations, which could lead to customer frustration. There are several ways to pull that off, depending on your budget level.
- Automatic receipt printer
You can put the printer in the kitchen, and whenever an order comes in, the printer will automatically print out the full order details together with any special instructions requested by the customer. You can also staple that print-out with the bag once the food is ready, to minimize mistakes when handing out orders.
If you use a mobile ordering platform like FanFood, we can provide an automatic printer already integrated with the platform.
- Kitchen display system (KDS)
A KDS is basically a screen that displays order information in the kitchen. You can either get a high quality digital board, or simply use another tablet and pull up the FanFood Manager Portal to see all the orders.
- Someone relaying orders manually
If you have a small operation and plenty of staff to spare, you can always have someone dedicated to shouting orders from the Manager Portal to the kitchen, or writing them down on a piece of paper and passing it to the kitchen. This is probably not the most ideal solution, but hey — it gets the job done.
6. Use pre-ordering to dissipate peak hour traffic
One big strength of mobile ordering is flexibility. You can turn on your store even before the event and start accepting orders before the event starts. This not only helps you better anticipate inventory needs, but also have some orders prepared and ready to go once gates open.
You can incentivize people to schedule orders ahead of time by offering special discounts for just pre-orders, or have exclusive menu items that are only available if you order ahead of time. This trick is especially useful for venues anticipating a larger turnout and a very busy event.
7. Set aside time for training and testing the system
Nothing compares to actually using the system and trialing it before the official rollout. While we understand that as you approach re-opening, you are probably pulled in a thousand and one different directions. However, unless you have a small scale, controlled rollout, we strongly recommend thoroughly training your staff and placing test orders before the first event.
- Train your staff beforehand, and have the manual / support number close by
While our system takes just a few minutes to master, you still want to make sure your core staff members are fully trained before the first day. The FanFood team handles all the live training for your team, and we also provide easy to follow tutorial videos for rotational staff members. We can also provide step-by-step printout manuals that you can put up at your concession stand as a refresher. There’s also an emergency support text number you can reach out to on the day of the event if you encounter any issues.
- Take into consideration the shipping time for your hardware and marketing needs
If you have a very short time window before officially launching the mobile ordering services, you’d want to communicate that with our team so we can ship out any hardware or marketing materials as soon as possible.
- Set up signage ahead of time
Nobody is going to place any order if they don’t know how! That’s why we can’t stress enough the importance of having plenty of signage up asking people to scan a QR code and order. Also, make sure that you mark out the pickup window and pick up lanes clearly with posters, signs and stanchions. You can purchase standard marketing materials from us, or print out your own signage by accessing our free library of designs files.
While this checklist is applicable to most venues, each operation is unique and our team will most likely have customized suggestions specific to your realities. If you have any questions or want to discuss options for your venue (no commitment needed), feel free to reach out to our specialists.
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