Encouraged by the opening of its largest site to date, Flat Iron has installed QSR Automations ConnectSmart Kitchen (CSK) and DineTime from CST. Designed to benefit both back and front-of-house, how has this new technology affected the running of the business? We spoke to Flat Iron operations manager Franziska Gach to find out.
What led you to choose CSK and DineTime technology?
We were opening a bigger site with two floors and we realised that we needed to rethink the manual printed tickets that we had in the other sites that didn’t allow for front-of-house and back-of-house to communicate. Both Charlie [Carroll, Flat Iron founder] and I have worked with CST before and found it very useful, so we investigated into it and we felt that it was the right technology for the Henrietta Street site.
What did you want to achieve by introducing CSK and DineTime?
We wanted to increase speed and communication. For example, in our other sites, it’s very easy for the host to see all of the tables – they can very easily predict wait times and how long a table will stay – whereas in Henrietta Street, because of the layout, it’s quite difficult and we would have had to have two people constantly communicating with the host. With DineTime, we can see this on the screen and it’s very easy for the waiters to let the host know that a table is paying their bill or that a table is free, without having to run backwards and forwards to the host.
What impact has it had on operations both front and back-of-house?
Things run smoother in the kitchen; we are less likely to lose orders because the physical tickets sometimes got lost. It’s very easy to handle and operate the screens. We haven’t actually used the screens to their full potential, for instance, you can upload recipes, but that is definitely a plan for the future. It makes us run smoother and faster.
It sounds like speed was a priority.
We have quite a lot of people visiting Henrietta Street and we do try to serve them within 10 to 12 minutes. To be able to do that, we need a system that supports us with that and makes it easier for us to do that.
How useful is DineTime for customers?
If we’re full and a guest comes in, DineTime tells us how long the wait time will be or what tables are available. We can tell the guests that they will have a table in half-an-hour, so they can leave their phone number with us, we enter it into DineTime and when the table becomes available, we press a button and DineTime texts them. While they’re waiting, they can go for a drink, they can go shopping, they can go for a walk, so they don’t have to wait on-site. They can wait on-site and have a drink at the bar, of course, but it makes it more pleasant rather than making them wait outside the door, which I personally wouldn’t want to do. I think it makes the experience more comfortable for guests. Most of them know our system now, so they might finish work at 6pm, they come in and they can kind of predict the wait time.
Was there any staff training involved?
We received quite a lot of training. When CST built the system for us, we went to their headquarters and they ran through the business with us including how it functions, how the menu will look and how communication will work between CST and our till system. When we opened Henrietta Street, we had four training days, and CST spent at least three hours with the staff. And then they spent a full day with us on our first day of trading, to make sure that they were on hand to solve any problems. We can still call them now, anytime, 24/7.