4 Things to Consider when Looking at KDS Total Cost of Ownership

Bematech Blog - July 19, 2019

American dollars on a plate as foodWhen you’re looking at which solutions to invest in for your restaurant, it’s easy to get swept up by what seems like a great deal. Don’t fall into the trap of investing in the wrong solutions just because the price is low. When it comes to technology like a kitchen display system, consider the total cost of ownership (TCO), over the number on the price tag. Here’s how to determine kitchen display system TCO:

Know the Four Main Technologies of a KDS

To understand the kitchen display system TCO, you need to fist understand the KDS itself. There are four main components that make up a kitchen display system:

Kitchen controller

This is the traffic controller of the KDS. It is responsible for sending orders to the correct prep stations and tracking how long they have been in the queue. If something is taking too long to prepare, count on the controller to send an alert.

Bump bar

This allows staff to scroll through orders, set priorities, and clear orders that have been completed.


This displays the actual information to staff, such as ingredients, preparation instructions, and priority. It’s recommended that you have a separate monitor for each different prep station.


The software is what makes everything work. It provides visibility into operations, letting managers know how staff is performing, and giving them control over the kitchen.

POS Integration

The next step to understanding the kitchen display system TCO is determining how it will integrate with your existing technology. You may find a cheap KDS, but it may not be able to integrate seamlessly with your point of sale.

Alternately, if it integrates only with your current POS, you may be locking yourself out of possible POS upgrades down the road. Look for a display system that integrates well with multiple point of sale systems, as well as Android and Apple operating systems, so you can ensure you always have an optimized kitchen.

Rollout Costs

Be aware of the costs associated with implementing a new system in your restaurant. You have to factor hardware into the total cost of your solution. When researching a KDS, make sure you know whether purchasing new software means you also have to purchase new hardware, or if you can use the software on your existing hardware.

Also consider how intuitive the system is. Complex systems require extensive time spent training your staff, so you want to include extra labor hours into the kitchen display system TCO.

Lifecycle, Growth, and Savings

Beyond the initial cost of implementing a KDS, you want to consider the lifetime cost—how you will handle upgrades, the support offered, and the potential for increased revenue.


Knowing whether or not your provider offers warranties, support, and software upgrades will clue you in on the expected lifecycle and kitchen display system TCO.


Choose something that has the ability to scale and grow with your restaurant needs, and a provider that adapts to keep up with changing industry trends.


Understand the overall ROI your KDS will provide. Are you losing a lot of money from order errors or disorganized processes? Solving these will put more money in your pocket. You also save costs in other areas, like printer maintenance, paper costs, and labor.


Before you jump the gun and choose the KDS that seems like it’s the most affordable, do your research and make sure there aren’t hidden costs or added expenses you will need to cover. The best KDS for your restaurant may not be the one with the lowest price tag, but the one that continues to streamline your kitchen and reduce costs for years to come.

Download our free eBook to see how adding a KDS can add efficiency and value to your restaurant.