Capacity Management in Cafeterias during Peak Hours

May 15, 2023 | Digital Cafeteria

Cafeterias can be a defining part of an employee’s experience in any company. Corporate cafeterias go beyond being just a place for hungry employees to grab a snack or have a meal. They can be the centres of social activity, relaxation, and in fact, become a part of the company’s culture.

The pre-requisite for this to happen is, naturally, a good selection of dining options in an efficient, clean, convenient, and hygienic cafeteria.

But no matter how well-planned or efficient, there are going to be peak hours when the traffic and crowds will be the highest. It is important to be aware of, and have mitigating factors to manage this traffic. This has become especially important after the recent pandemic, where social distancing and other factors come into play. This is where capacity management at peak hours come into play.

The problems of increased footfalls in peak hours can also lead to longer waits, mixed-up orders, and consequently frustrated employees, leading to disappointing, if not unpleasant employee experiences. Capacity management is vital to ensure that the cafeteria runs smoothly and efficiently, especially during peak hours.

Here are some ways that cafeterias can manage capacity at peak hours.

App-based ordering

This starts with the implementation of a comprehensive digital cafeteria solution that incorporates every vendor within the cafeteria. The solution comes with an app that employees can use to order from anywhere. Once the order is ready, the employee is sent a notification, and he/she can pick it up from the outlet with zero wait time. This eliminates wait time for the employee as well as the crowding around that happens when employees are waiting for their orders to get ready at an outlet. Digital ordering also gives service providers an accurate view of the demand for specific dishes, helping them plan and execute orders more smoothly.

Contactless ordering and pickups

Contactless ordering and pickups, with designated pickup spots, can be a timesaver as well as minimise traffic to cafeterias. Employees can order and pay for their food through their mobile devices, and pick up their orders from designated zones, lockers, or specialised pickup counters that are separate from the general service counters in the main cafeteria. These measures can reduce wait times and overcrowding in the cafeteria, and in many cases, eliminate the need for physical contact with staff, thus reducing the risk of spreading germs.

Time slot allotment

The cafeteria administrators can set up a system of allotting timeslots for dining, with a specified number of employees allowed into the cafeteria during those times. Every time slot will have a limited number of available seats, and employees can book their preferred time for dining. For example, 50 employees may book the 1300-1315 hrs slot, and the next 50 will have to opt for the 1315- 1330 hrs slot. This is an efficient and transparent way to manage footfalls and crowding in the cafeteria.

Digital payments

Digital payment systems, either while ordering on the app or at the point of sale, make things faster and more efficient. Digital payments can be contactless as well. Digital payments eliminate the need for receiving and counting cash as well as counting out and returning the correct change – saving time and effort for the vendors. The added advantage of digital payments is the absolute transparency and elimination of pilferage/leakage in receivables.

Encourage off-peak visits

Another effective method to manage capacity during peak hours is to offer incentives during off-peak hours. For example, discounts, BOGOs, and other offers, or even free add-ons during non-peak hours can encourage employees to shift their dining breaks and divert traffic away from peak hours. This can also help the cafeteria staff manage the workload and reduce overcrowding, resulting in a better customer experience for everyone.

Well-planned capacity management is vital to ensure that cafeterias run smoothly, efficiently, and safely during peak hours. The measures mentioned above – app-based ordering, contactless ordering and pickups, digital payment options, and the promotion of off-peak traffic could go a long way in capacity management during peak hours. These measures can also lead to a better customer experience, as well as reduced stress and more efficient service for vendors.