So, Prep Time and Order Limiting don't really work together??

I just spent yet another hour on Square online tech support and cannot seem to get a clear explanation of how Prep Time and Order Limiting function TOGETHER.  


If I allow, for example, 8 orders per 15 minutes, how does Prep Time of 10, 15, or 20 minutes for that matter, impact delivery times.  (I don't need a full explanation of how the rolling pickup times work due to Order Limiting; I already have a fair understanding of that -- although it does NOT always work as intended, which is a whole other issue.)   My question is if I am using Order Limiting, does Prep Time really have any bearing on Pickup times?



A 10 minute Prep Time means nothing to customers when there is a 45 minute wait to pick up.



Message 1 of 7
Super Seller

@RoasterChica I will try to give you the way I understand it as I have had to adjust this for a couple of stores.  Order limiting and prep time work together, but who is in control changes.  Prep time really should be how long it takes to make an order start to finish.  


The order limiting looks at a rolling time frame.  If 7 orders come in at 10am...all 7 will be available for pickup at 10:15am if you set a 15 minute prep time.  Now lets say 9 orders come in at 10AM and #9 is a few milliseconds behind.  The order limiting will look at your 8 order per 15 mins and will push that 9th order out to 10:20 since you told the system I can only do 8 orders in a 15 minute window.  The system will look at the first available time you can start making the order and then use the prep time to calculate when it would be ready.


My experience with this is the system holds the ticket and then uses the prep time to figure out when to print the ticket.  The system uses the prep time as how many minutes before an order is scheduled to be picked up do I send the ticket to the kitchen.  That is why you may notice orders in upcoming.  Prep time is also the minimum time when a customer places an order it will tell them to pick it up.


I had trouble at one location that is doing a huge volume of online orders.  Tickets would be held by the system with a pickup time 45 mins away, but customers would show up early looking for orders.  We were searching for the tickets that didn't print yet.  We turned off the order limiting and just set the prep time a little longer so tickets would print as soon as they came in.  I went from 10 mins prep to 15 prep and that kinda fixed the problem.


Some kitchens with alot of tickets just need tickets to come into the work flow in an organized manner.  I.E. you can only fit so many pizzas in an oven.  (Sorry also wasn't trying to rehash how the order limiting works :-))



Message 2 of 7

Hi @Donnie-M,

I truly appreciate this very much.  I have one follow-up question... 


You said it pushes the "9th order out to 10:20" and then "The system will look at the first available time you can start making the order and then use the prep time to calculate when it would be ready."   So, in your experience will it schedule that 9th order at 10:20 or at 10:20 plus the 15-minute prep time (which would make it 10:35)?



Message 3 of 7

@RoasterChica My experience is the 15 minutes is rolling.  So it will make sure that in any one 15 minute block there are only 8 orders for example.  So it would push that 9th order out to the 10:20.  Where it gets harder to realize what is doing is when then you get say 3 more orders.  It pushes the 1st out to 10:20 to keep 8 in a 15 minutes window..then the next one gets pushed out another couple minutes..and then the 3rd will get pushed out a couple more minutes beyond the 2nd one .  This is where you get those extended times as it keeps recalculating what the future 15 minutes will be like based on the current orders in queue.


The biggest problem with this system is customers not paying attention to pickup times.  Over time they get trained and accustomed to it.

Message 4 of 7

Hi Donnie,

yes that makes sense and is how we understand it too.

What I’m really trying to figure out though is, at that point, will my Prep Time setting change anything?  For example, if i set Prep Time to 10, 15, or 30 minutes for that matter, will it have any bearing on Pickup Times?

Message 5 of 7

@RoasterChica I use a 10 min prep time.  My average ticket time is around 5-7 minutes, but I like the customer to know some idea of when it will be ready.  A certain star coffee place usually bucks in a prep time of 8 mins.  I can submit an order at 5am and it is always ready at 5:08 no matter what I order.


I personally recommend use the shortest one possible.  It won't really affect the backup of orders.  My other location we turned the order limiter off and just set a little bit longer prep time of 15 minutes.  That way our tickets always print immediately.  We use the mark as in progress and mark as ready to let people know if it is ready sooner.  I also put notes in the instructions to tell buyers to make sure they allow the text alerts for the most up to date order info.

Message 6 of 7

@Donnie-M Your replies have been most appreciated!!  I guess if you're such an early riser at the star coffee place 😉, you can be assured to get your order at 5:08 AM (wow!).  It does get trickier once you are already backed up with too many tickets and waits are an hour or more.  That's our situation every weekend. (Not complaining about being busy; just trying to optimize for everyone's sake).


One thing I just did was buy a new stand + iPad that arrives next week because in troubleshooting with Square we learned that because ours is several years old, those control features you're describing like letting people know if it's ready sooner (or being delayed) are not available to us. 


After that, I'll play around with different prep time settings and hopefully, we'll be able to make things a bit more predictable.


Wishing you much business success, and a HUGE THANK YOU for taking time to correspond.

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