Kitchen management software comes in all shapes and sizes. It makes choosing the system that is right for you all the more complicated.
In this post, we’ll help you narrow down the options.
Most successful food businesses are now multi-unit and multi-channel. That means you are collaborating with multiple stakeholders who each have their own data points to focus on.
The F&B director works with the order forms, the COO analyses the profit and loss statements, the inventory manager checks the stock counts, the executive chef works in the recipes database and so on.
All come with their own data sets and metrics – food cost, inventory variance, sales numbers, the list goes on.
With more people using the data to organize workflows for purchasing, inventory, production, and even HACCP, the need for a definitive source of truth that is able to capture all the data and connect them in a coherent way has grown exponentially.
- The National Restaurant Association found that 95% of operators say tech improves their overall efficiency.
- 39% of successful operators cite food costs as their number one challenge
- Reducing waste can save you €7 for every euro spent
If you run a hotel chain, dark kitchen network, or multi-outlet fast-casual restaurant, you need the best back-of-house (BOH) monitoring tools – for:
- consistency in production,
- operational excellence,
- and cost management
– in order to stay in control of your outlets and remain competitive.
But with so many kitchen management systems vying for your attention, you need to narrow down the options. Here are the key considerations to look out for when making your decision.
9 Features To Look For In Kitchen Management Software
You need restaurant kitchen management software that has specific features to solve specific problems but also is general enough that it helps in multiple areas of operations.
That means it needs to be able to integrate with other tech solutions, it needs to be able to take in data, make sense of it, and share it with the whole system, and it needs to give you enough flexibility to make changes for constant improvement.
Here are the top features to look out for to make that happen.
1. Recipes - Your Core Data-Set
The back of house or production side of a food business is notoriously hard to manage.
Workflows are criss crossing each other all the time. Inventory, procurement, production, they all depend on one another. To digitise these processes, you need a data set that ties everything together.
That vital piece of information is your recipe.
Regardless of the type of food business you have – large scale catering or hole-in-the-wall burger place – there is one thing that they all have in common, and that is recipes.
Recipes allow you to calculate your purchase amounts, inventory turnover, food cost, margins… well, it allows you to do everything really.
And you can scale your recipes in every possible direction. Much in the same way that having your coordinates allows your GPS-system to calculate the fastest route to your destination but also the most scenic one.
Recipes are your coordinates, they are at the centre of a food business. The kitchen management software is the GPS-system ensuring swift and accurate calculations
So, make sure the system you choose has a badass module to handle those recipes.
2. SaaS – Accessibility In The Cloud
If you have an eye on scaling up to take advantage of new opportunities, you need software that enables you to quickly make changes.
Whether that means adding new nodes or opening new locations, it all has to connect seamlessly to the system as a whole. What you are looking for is a kitchen operation management system in the cloud.
With multiple stakeholders needing access to the information held in the system, accessibility is all-important. Your finance team, CTO, dev chef, F&B director, COO, and managers at multiple locations need access to the same up-to-date data.
If not, you’ll keep on copying data from spreadsheet to spreadsheet and manually crunching numbers until the end of days.
In short, your single source of truth needs to be accessible for it to be useful.
Having your data in the cloud also means that updates and new features can be accessed immediately and be rolled out across multiple locations automatically.
A SaaS kitchen management system is
The software company providing the kitchen management system will be improving and updating its solution continuously. Not only to help you get better results but also to outshine their competition.
That is a big difference from an on-premise system that your IT-guys install once (bugs included), spend all their time maintaining (at astronomical rates), and is outdated before the year is over.
3. Platform – Build a Reliable Tech Ecosystem
Your restaurant kitchen software should be part of your overall ecosystem linking seamlessly with front-of-house (FOH) systems – reservations, ePOS, loyalty, ordering tech – as well as accounting, payroll, and HR tech.
The right software allows all your systems to talk to each other and provides insights to improve operations continuously.
Apicbase automates actions and calculations for you. Information from different outlets – and departments – is shared effectively throughout the business as a whole.
4. Modular – Choose What You Need
A modular system allows you to only pay for what you need. But have the flexibility to add more features as you grow or add revenue streams to the business.
Accurate recipe information informs every other aspect of your data from purchasing and inventory, to production processes and costing. It’s vital to have accurate cost calculations and use menu engineering to optimize your recipes.
Without strong product development tools, a kitchen operation management system is going to hold you back from progressing and remaining competitive.
With that in mind, here are the core modules to look for:
- Product development – clean data on ingredients, allergens, and nutritional values along with recipe and menu optimization tools. Real-time costing – keep your ingredient costs accurate and up-to-date with live price updates.
- Inventory management – connect with your POS to get real-time stock updates and stock value calculations. Improve accuracy and save a bunch of time on stock counts. Keep track of internal orders by digitally managing stock transfers between units.
- Smart ordering – smart procurement tools offer suggestions based on sales data and reduce the time your managers and chefs spend on tedious tasks. Order with suppliers with the touch of a button while reducing ordering errors.
- Sales analytics – inform every decision with real sales data. Optimize your recipes and your menus based on the hard numbers.
- Kitchen task management – ensure you stay on top of essential tasks like HACCP, food safety, temperature checks, and safety drills. Plan and monitor food safety checks from one dashboard.
- Production planning – generate detailed mise-en-place lists automatically by simply entering the number of portions needed. Take control of production using production planning tools for better cost control and consistency in production across multiple units.
A modular kitchen management system gives you flexibility and the ability to adapt to ensure ongoing success.
5. Multi-Unit – Maintain Control Across Locations
Your restaurant kitchen software should be able to handle data coming in from multiple sources and give you access to all of it.
Whether you have multiple locations, dark kitchens, or central production units – whatever your situation, they can be monitored from a single dashboard.
This gives you the ability to efficiently compare performance between locations and make positive changes to bring underperforming outlets up to standard.
All while cutting out meetings and phone calls which are far less productive than managing communication through your restaurant kitchen software.
6. Integration-Ready – Key APIs For A Future-Proof System
A full-stack foodservice management system needs to not only talk to other systems and make sure data is not siloed, it also needs to give you the flexibility to add integrations in the future.
APIs to ensure successful communication include some obvious, and other less obvious integrations:
- POS – share sales data to inform decisions throughout the business
- Personnel management – process staff rosters for accurate prime cost calculations
- Menu displays – automate menu updates and ensure all customer facing information is up-to-date and accurate
- Accounting tech – make sure your finance team has all the information necessary to do its job
- Suppliers – get real-time price updates and order directly in the vendor’s system
- IoT devices – with Apicbase, even your digital scales can be connected to the system. Retail clients send the weight of a portion from the scales directly to Apicbase via API. Apicbase calculates the nutritional values and generates a label ready for print.
The right BOH system allows you to integrate all of your tech elements and make sure they talk to each other effectively to save time and avoid costly errors.
The diagram below shows how Ice+Fries uses the Apicbase API’s to feed real-time information to their kiosks, and how they feed sales data back to Apicbase, which then depletes inventory. When stock is below par the kitchen management software automatically generates detailed purchase order lists.
7. Automation – Save time And Cut Costs
Automation is an integral part of your restaurant kitchen management system as we have seen above.
A good system has automation features to save time and improve efficiency in almost every aspect of operations.
Say a caterer needs 654 full menus. Apicbase will calculate how much of each recipe and sub recipe has to be produced.
The kitchen management software will then:
- Generate a bill of materials and order forms for each individual supplier, taking into account what is already available in the inventories and the different package sizes of each vendor.
- Calculate CoGS and profit margins.
- Generate a production overview with a mise en place and individual tasks. If three of the sub-recipes contain tomato sauce, it will generate one task for the total amount of sauce needed rather than three separate batches.
- Alert you to things that need attention, for example a dish that doesn’t reach its target margin or inventory discrepancies.
You can see how this saves time in multiple areas of the business. The recipe cost, menu cost, profit margins are all calculated automatically.
Automation tools are vital to save time, avoid errors, and get crucial insights that help improve operations.
8. User-Friendly – Kitchen Management Software Your Teams Are Happy To Use Every Day
You could have the most advanced, smart system in the world, but if your teams don’t like using it day-in, day-out, they won’t, and it is a waste of money and time.
You know how important it is to keep staff happy so you need a system that is easy to learn, intuitive to use, and most of all useful for everyday tasks.
A kitchen management system like Apicbase runs smoothly in the background, taking care of admin tasks that take up precious time, so that management can focus on solving problems, fixing inconsistencies, and actually improving operations in real-time.
This takes away part of the workload for staff and reduces unnecessary anxiety for management.
9. Strong Support - Work With A Company You Can Rely On
Digitising the back of house and setting up your food management system is no small feat.
Make sure the platform you are deploying is backed by a dedicated support team.
When you are developing workflows for your teams and creating menus for each outlet you want people at your side that can guide you through every step of the way.
Choose A Kitchen Operation Management System That Ticks All The Boxes
Trusted by more than 350 top food and beverage companies worldwide, Apicbase has all the features you are looking for in restaurant kitchen software.
It provides a platform that talks to your FOH, accounting, and payroll systems, giving you a solid base to build your entire foodservice management system upon.
Apicbase can help you:
- Avoid data silos between systems and modules
- Increase efficiency, reduce food waste, and cut cost
- Improve quality and increase margins
- Keep your workforce happy
- Maintain agility and the ability to adapt and grow
Apicbase is the BOH kitchen management platform that you’ve been looking for. It will streamline all kitchen data and connect the dots between your operational nodes.
If you need a restaurant kitchen management system that pushes costs down, margins and quality up, and keeps your staff smiling every single day, schedule a demo today to see the difference Apicbase can make.