From experience with working in the restaurant industry for quite awhile, I can tell you why it is that restaurants always mess up orders and get them wrong. Here we will look into what goes on behind the counter when orders are taken, received by the cooks, and made. Many restaurants struggle with getting orders correct quite frequently when certain circumstances happen pretty often.
There are numerous reasons to why they get your order wrong, but there are also some really common reasons why. We will start with the most common reason why and then go from there, keeping it as transparent as possible.
One thing to note is that it is not in the best interest of any restaurant to purposely mess up their customer’s order. They lose out on profit everytime that they have to remake an order after it has been sent out to their guests. When we say this of course, we are talking about the restaurant as a business as a whole, not the actual employees working at the restaurant. We will explain this further as we go along.
Reason #1: The restaurant doesn’t have a good failsafe system.
Restaurants not having a good system from beginning to end when taking orders and making them is the number one reason why restaurants are messing up your orders. This could be a series of things ranging from how the cashier is taking the order, to how the orders are finally getting bagged or placed before they are served.
Restaurants have to have an orderly way of receiving the orders and keep this order all the way through until it is finally given to the guests. Without this, it is really easy for a restaurant to mess up orders. Under the circumstances where a restaurant gets busy or the customer is changing a lot of things on their order, they will have the highest chance of messing up the order.
A good system set up from beginning to end prevents this from happening. Sometimes the restaurant will blame the kitchen crew members’ lack of communication, when it is really ultimately the system that isn’t working. This however often requires the cooperation of the entire kitchen to perform this in order for the orders to be made correctly. However, even with the entire kitchen doing their job, sometimes the systems set up by the restaurant (the owners or corporate) just isn’t good enough to prevent inevitable mistakes.
Usually over time a restaurant develops the skills to be able to come up with a fool proof system. It takes trial and error of many mistakes and adjustments sometimes before they can finally get their system that they have set up, to keep orders from being messed up from happening. Usually this is for newer restaurant that have only been around for only a few years.
These adjustments are made all the time in new and old restaurants, but more commonly and frequently in the newer ones. It may surprise some people, but restaurants actually frequently have problems with orders that they aren’t immediately familiar with on how they should handle it. They go through many different demands for their orders from many different people that say things in a different way.
The restaurant sometimes has to do things outside of their system that they have set up for the everyday common order in order to try and fulfill the customer’s needs. An example of this is a customer requesting their food to be made gluten-free. Some restaurants haven’t experienced enough of special orders like this in order to be able to make them properly without messing them up, even when they are trying their best.
Reason #2: The crew is always new.
This is the second most common reason why restaurants always get your order wrong. The crew in the restaurant that is making the food is always someone new. Restaurants always have new employers coming and going in their establishments. Most individuals that work at restaurants have no intentions of staying there to make it a life long career. Usually restaurants are occasionally going through many new employees because of this.
New employees at restaurants usually do not go through an entire seminar for a month (not even a week) before they are placed in the kitchen to make the food or work the cash register. Unfortunately, many times new employees are thrown into their jobs straight away and trained as they work. Sometimes if these employees aren’t capable of performing the tasks of making the orders in this short time period, then they are passed off as lacking the ability to perform simple tasks. Of course, this is the harsher side of the reality, but over time this is usually how it goes unfortunately.
The new crew members are going to mess something up, even if they have worked for other restaurant establishments in the past. This is why it takes a good restaurant to realize this and come up with a good system to prevent messed up orders from making it out to the customers before it is too late.
Even if a restaurant appears to have most of the same crew members, they all have to work together as a team in order to get the orders out correctly. This means that one or two new crew members replacing older employees that have left can easily turn into a disastrous day of messed up orders and customer complaints; especially if that new crew member is left unsupervised too early.
Reason #3: The cashier is a stubborn know-it-all.
Unfortunately this is the case in many restaurants. There is often a cashier taking the orders that doesn’t comprehend how important it is for him/her to follow all the steps that they are instructed to do by the restaurant business for every order that they take. When a cashier lacks competence and orders keep getting messed up, it can be fixed with a little willingness and humility when they are politely corrected. However, some cashiers (more often than not) can be really stubborn about changing their personal ways of doing things when taking orders, even if it is hurting the restaurant as a whole.
One of the most important things that a cashier has to do to prevent the orders from repeatedly getting messed up everytime that a customer orders their food, is to repeat the entire order back to the customer after they have finished ordering. When a cashier fails to do this, then it can actually end up being the number one reason why a restaurant messes up orders and gets bad reviews. I have seen this happen at many different restaurant establishments from numerous cashiers.
Cashiers repeating the order back to their guests right after they have finished ordering is a failsafe that restaurants use to keep the order from being messed up before it is even cooked. It ensures that the guest ordering didn’t miss something that they forgot to add, and it prevents the cashier from hearing the wrong thing when they thought they heard what their guest was saying (which you may be surprised happens more than you know).
Usually these cashiers have been working long enough at the establishment to know how to do their job, and can certainly tell you how, but they are too know-it-all sometimes (because they think their job is really straightforward and simple) to know that it actually is vital to the restaurant to do it correctly. They often think that these small steps are inconvenient and unnecessary, and never believe them to be the cause of a messed up order. They will deny that it is their fault when they fail to follow these steps and will even sometimes go as far as to blame other crew members to why the order was wrong.
However, ultimately it is the cashier that has to take the order correctly in order for the right food to be cooked by the cooks; and it is ultimately up to the cashier to deliver the right food to the right person. This usually is all the cashiers responsibility, which sometimes includes checking the order before it is handed out to make sure everything is right on the ticket.
Also, some cashiers like this may feel that they are too good at their job to follow the simple procedures to ask the name of their guests that are taking the orders; so that the food when it is cooked, knows where it is going. Also, writing down any special changes made by the customer on the tickets instead of telling (or simply not telling) the kitchen what changes are made is a good idea. It is these simple steps that can cause a restaurant to repeatedly mess up orders for their guests.