Running a shared kitchen is hard during the best of times. Many a wide-eyed entrepreneur has jumped into opening a space, full of the dreams of helping local business owners and the freedom of being your own boss.
Then reality sets in. And you find yourself spending less time chatting to tenants and tasting their delicious food and more time slumped over a laptop chasing payments, editing ever changing schedules, and managing out endless compliance paperwork.
If only there was something that could automate these tedious tasks and free up time for the things you really need to get to – like building client relationships, growing your business and improving your kitchen offerings. Or just relaxing and spending some time with your family (or fishing)!
Oh wait, there is. All manner of advances have been made in kitchen management software to the point where monotonous tasks can be automated and the customer experience can be vastly improved.
With the help of the right kitchen management system, you can increase the number of clients you can handle and bring in more cash each month while freeing up time to focus on other areas of your business.
But what should you look for in a shared kitchen management system?
What Makes a Good Shared Kitchen Management System?
The shared kitchen industry is growing in popularity but is still very niche and has its own particular needs. You need software specifically designed with shared kitchen management in mind.
There’s plenty of management software focused on helping restaurants and hotels optimize their processes and integrate services like table reservations and waitlist management. But these systems are focused on the needs of the hospitality industry. They don’t have commissary-specific features like scheduling tools to help tenants book space in a shared kitchen or reserve a piece of shared equipment. A restaurant management system like this doesn’t cater to the specific needs of shared kitchen owners.
You should, instead, look for a system that is fit for purpose. One specifically designed for shared kitchens and their particular needs and idiosyncrasies. One that is constantly evolving to meet your needs because it is run by a team that listens to its community of users and works specifically on solutions to the problems they face.
With that said, let’s take a look at the specific features you should look out for when choosing a shared kitchen management system.
What to Look For in a Shared Kitchen Management System
Online Booking Software and Kitchen Scheduling Tools
One of the common problems we hear from newcomers to our shared kitchen community is the pain of creating schedules for tenants – hours spent taking calls and emails requests, then cross-checking each one against a calendar, and then contacting the parties involved, and updating it again. Many have complained that it’s a continuing nightmare of admin, and mistakes are often made which impact the customer experience.
The solution? Booking software designed for shared kitchens. Streamlined kitchen scheduling tools automate the process so you don’t have to deal with all those phone calls, emails, and late nights in front of a Google calendar.
Automated scheduling tools allow users to reserve equipment, book kitchen space, and make changes without having to contact you. And the system is automatically updated so there’s no overlap and no more messing around making manual changes and messaging back and forth.
As a shared kitchen manager, you have the ability to set parameters so that you stay in control of when bookings can be made. And built-in cancellation policies let customers know exactly what to expect if they make last-minute changes on the online reservation system. This is an essential part of any useful commissary or shared kitchen management system.
Robust Kitchen Billing Software
Another common gripe among shared kitchen owners is the amount of time they spend dealing with invoicing and chasing payments. This is a common problem among small businesses as they are often the last in line to get paid.
With the right shared kitchen billing software, customers are automatically sent bills and payment reminders. Even better if you can get tenants set up on automatic monthly payments.
Automating the billing process means you’re not constantly thinking about if and when cash is coming in and you can focus on more positive areas like bringing in more tenants.
Tenant Management Tools
You might think that when it comes to dealing with tenants, the most important thing is the human touch. You have a relationship to maintain with these business owners and that involves empathy and human contact.
That’s a very important point, but actually, technology can help you maintain an even better relationship with your customers while taking the drudgery out of the more mundane aspects of client management. This allows you more time and mental energy to give the best human-centric customer experience to your tenants.
Features like compliance reminders, flexible billing plans – by month, day or hour – and storage space management tools all remove the burden of paperwork and administrative nagging from you and your team so you can spend more time making a meaningful connection with your shared kitchen users.
Right, we’ve made your life much easier and freed up time to grow your business. What next? You need the data on which to build a strategy and execute your growth plan.
Tech is at hand once again to help. With your shared kitchen management system in place, and all your users set up on the digital system, you have access to myriad insights into kitchen usage, customer data, and revenue.
A good analytics and reporting system offers you clear reports, with detailed charts helping you to analyze key metrics like your seasonal business trends, your storage and space utilization, and customer revenue.
When you can see the exact state of your business, you can see where you are going wrong, and where you are doing well. All of which can be used to refine your offering, improve the targeting of your marketing, and grow your business in the smartest way possible.
The final piece of the puzzle is customer support. It’s no good having all this technology in place if customers can’t reach a human when they really need support. Once again though, tech can help you take care of your customers faster.
And for your staff, having access to a good support team makes their lives easier and allows them to offer a better experience for your tenants. They also have all the client data they need to help resolve any issues as quickly as possible.
Keep your staff happy with the right tools and they will keep your tenants happy!
Get even more with the industry leader
Having gone through the features to look for in a shared kitchen management system, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. How do I choose the right system? And is it easy to implement?
The good news is, The Food Corridor is leading the industry with its comprehensive shared kitchen management system. All of the above points are covered in one system that is easy to set up and will save you hours and hours of painful admin.
The Food Corridor wasn’t made in a vacuum. We have fostered a community of shared kitchen owners and have built our tools around their needs. We have listened to their biggest issues and delivered the tech to help them. And we won’t stop there. It is an on-going process where we continue to listen to our community and try to help solve any problems that come up.
We also publish a ton of shared kitchen resources offering advice, guidance, and unique industry insights from opening to tenant management to growing your business – not to mention helping shared kitchen owners get through the current Covid-19 crisis.
We also run The Kitchen Door, a platform that connects shared kitchen tenants with kitchen owners, and The NICK, or The Network for Incubator and Commissary Kitchens, a private Facebook group for discussion and collaboration that forms the beating heart of our community.
Finally, we must mention The Food Corridor Gnomes, our dedicated support team made up of passionate problem solvers whose sole purpose is to get you moving in the right direction on our system.
To get access to the best software in the biz, the largest and strongest shared kitchen community in the US, and the most passionate team of fixers you’ll find, join The Food Corridor family today.