The faster we can dish out the food, the better will be our guest experience and we can gather more and more of our customer smiles and their compliments for the delicious food served in record time while making our team do more in less time with far more ease.

Three years ago (pre-pandemic), I received a call from one of the online food order aggregator’s team highlighting that the Kitchen Preparation Time (famously known as KPT) at my restaurants was higher than their benchmark standard and they advised at reducing it. On this call, I replied – “we cook everything from scratch in our kitchens, our food is fresh, delicious and not like a fast-food café hence our food takes longer to be sent out of our kitchens”.

The caller listened to me carefully, tried to explain me the importance of lower KPT (kitchen preparation time) towards increasing guest satisfaction, however, I ignored it all, thinking that we were right at all that we were doing.

Slowly, as the pandemic changed businesses and online food orders soared – it dawned on me how significant and imperative it was to have a low and tightly watched KPT in our kitchens for not just delivery orders but also for take-away and dine-in orders. A lower KPT leads to better guest satisfaction, service speed and eases work in kitchens and at the packing counter for our teams.

At our multiple outlets of Kebabs & Curries Company (KCCO) we arranged for numerous team meetings with chefs, managers, servers and delivery boys to understand as to where all we could save time, enhance speed, and improve processes of order receiving, order making, order packing and order delivering. We broke down each and every step, looked at each stage carefully to see where more efficiency could be produced to reduce KPT.

For our restaurant and kitchen operations at this point, the whole team is focused on delivering orders out of our outlet at the quickest and earliest. Just to put things in perspective – due to these changes that we did as the KCCO Team – our KPT went down from 25 minutes to 12 minutes. A massive reduction of 13 minutes per food order. All in all, our guests were receiving their orders 13-15 minutes faster than before and in the world of competitive food-delivery, this is big achievement. Imagine receiving your orders, ahead of schedule – that is an absolutely wow-worthy moment for the guest.

Today by means of this column I will be highlighting few steps and initiatives that would help any kitchen and outlet reduce its KPT substantially and boost guest satisfaction and generate higher revenues; all thanks to a low KPT and swift food delivery.

Knowing the food top-sellers with daily quantities being sold: we all may claim that we know our top-selling dishes in the restaurant but let me ask this again – “do we really know our top-sellers?”. I feel we can do better at this by making use of data analytics & machine learning (from our POS – point of sales) and figure out exactly how many of each of the best sellers we are selling on a given day in a week.

For example: if we find out that butter chicken and veg biryani are our top sellers, and every Monday we sell 20 each and, on every Wednesday, we sell 30 each, we can plan our mise-en-place in kitchen and on packing counter accordingly. This little extra preparation can propel us very well in saving time with each and every order. This may sound like small step but trust me that this is huge.

Explaining each and every team member the importance of lower KPT: KPT sounds like a solid jargon in today’s world of NFT, AI, IOT, etc. And our humble restaurant team members may overlook it easily. We have to make everyone aware of how important lower kitchen preparation time is and how this can help our business when every team member is focused on this.

Our business is a people driven business thus the team should believe in low KPT numbers and this can be magical for our food business.

Delivery orders to be accepted in the kitchen itself and not in some distantly placed POS counter: At all our KCCO restaurants/ outlets, point of sales (POS) and KOT printers were placed at our take-away/ billing counters. After our team meetings on how to reduce the KPT, we decided to move all this set-up in our kitchen next to our packing area so that we could save more time on each order.

This little enhancement helped us massively. Now receiving/ acceptance of all online orders, passing the order to the chef, packing part of the orders and final checking of the order started to happen faster, in close proximity.

Manage all orders through a KDS (Kitchen display system): “Mark food ready” is another terminology made popular by the online food aggregators and this is a system that signals the delivery rider on his mobile that the order at the kitchen is now ready to be picked up. Usage of KDS at our kitchens helps to promptly notify the rider for pick-up the moment the order gets ready – few more seconds saved on every order.

An efficient packing counter that is designed to the point for speedy packing: with so many delivery orders ringing in our kitchens, it is vital to have a well-designed and thoughtfully stocked & stacked packing counter with all packing material, boxes, bags, disposable cutlery/ crockery and condiments to accompany the dishes so that each order could be packed well and with precision. Packing counters are the new critical part of our kitchen operations.

With online delivery orders increasing immensely, in-car dining or take-away food getting popular and loads of dine-in guests at restaurants during these times as the pandemic has subsided is making our kitchens even busier. Therefore, it is paramount to look at all the efficiencies we can achieve in our operations and make us a better-managed outlet/ kitchen.

The faster we can dish out the food, the better will be our guest experience and we can gather more and more of our customer smiles and their compliments for the delicious food served in record time while making our team do more in less time with far more ease.

Varun Behl is a Jaipur based restaurateur operating a chain of restaurants and QSRs (Quick Service Restaurants). Varun is a seasoned food & beverage and hospitality management professional with experience spanning over 19 years; a decade of which is with Marriott International in India and its global operations. Food and beverage and entrepreneurship are his forte – which he lives every day and is keen to share his insights with peers and mentees alike.