I was recently working out of town and visited a local burger spot for lunch. Upon arriving there were sheets of paper and pencils for filling out your order lined on a table by the front door. On the sheets you were supposed to fill in your name and select the food options you wanted complete with the toppings for the burgers or hotdogs. Once you completed the sheet, you walked up to the counter and handed it to the cashier. The cashier would then enter the order into the system and read it back to you to make sure it was accurate. After reading it back, she would flip the screen around for you to complete your payment and specify how you wanted your receipt.
While I was in line I watched as the cashier stopped entering orders from people in line until she could complete orders coming in over the phone. At one point, I noticed the cashier walk away from the customer she was helping to tell the kitchen staff there was another order of onion rings. What stuck out to me the most was that they had already invested in technology for placing orders and payments, yet they ran an extremely manual process that slowed their production time down tremendously. I waited in line for at least 15 minutes with only two people in front of me and I watched as the line grew to outside the front door. In the midst of winter this very well could cause people to question whether they should stay in line or go somewhere else.
Though the wait was long, the food was great, and the staff was very kind. The experience just got me thinking of alternatives to their manual processes. What if, instead of notepads they had iPads or some type of electronic ordering process? By automating the order electronically, it would allow for a faster order process which in turn would provide the cooks real-time information regarding what they need to prepare for several orders versus one at a time. Additionally, payment could be processed through the order screen for those not paying in cash. The reduction in time spent with the cashier would free her up to put in phone orders, manage pick-up orders, serve drinks, ensure the dining room is clean with tables wiped down and help customers paying in cash.
I am not a restaurateur and I genuinely was fine with my experience. It just reminded me of the parallel between this example of a manual process and the many North Carolina businesses we have worked with outside of the restaurant industry – businesses where many, if not all, the tools were in place for automation, yet they still relied on paper-intensive manual processes.
For businesses outside of the restaurant industry the note pad to fill out orders on may be a sales order. One that instead of being automated into a workflow, has to pass through many hands before getting to the different departments that rely on sales order information to make consequential decisions that affect the company’s bottom line. The onion rings may indicate a product or service in high demand and the need for your purchasing department to have real-time order information to stay on track of inventory. The cashier verifying the complete order verbally may be your billing department having to go back to a sales representative to ensure a detail was accurate because the paperwork did not go through an automated workflow with approval processes. The manual entry of the paper order form could be the countless time spent manually inputting invoice information into an accounting software because zonal OCR isn’t set up on invoices and integrated into their system automatically.
How we handle documents and information is changing at an unprecedented rate. In order to stay productive and profitable you have to be able to adapt and incorporate initiatives that move you away from outdated procedures. Once you take the leap, you will be amazed at the time you save and how you can reinvest that time saved back into improving other areas of your business. If you would like to learn more about how you can bring automation and document solutions to your workplace, we would love to help. Reach out to us at 800-648-7081 or online to schedule an appointment with one of our local document specialists who will help investigate how to save you time and money through document workflow solutions.
Drew Smith currently serves as Director of Communications for Copiers Plus. The company specializes in modernizing office equipment and increasing efficiencies in workplace communications throughout the state of North Carolina. To learn more about how Copiers Plus is providing their customers with innovative document solutions and enhanced printing transparency, visit www.copiers-plus.com. Drew would love to hear from you at [email protected].
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