Technologies that Help Restaurants Survive the Labor Shortage
Restaurants were hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, but there are signs that life is returning to normal. However, eateries in certain parts of the country, many of which were required to shut down in 2020, now face a new challenge: a labor shortage. According to the US Department of Labor, the accommodations and food services industry reported an additional 115,000 jobs in mid-2021, while the hiring rate remained flat.
A restaurant labor shortage is particularly dangerous for the food services industry because it causes a ripple effect of problems that can seriously damage a restaurant and its reputation. When there isn’t enough staff to cover a shift, restaurants are forced to seat diners at fewer tables, shorten their hours, offer limited menus or close. This means fewer table turns, lower profits, and a lower total of tips for the staff.
Additionally, restaurant staff trying to cover more tasks faster can lead to worker burnout, so the customer experience starts to decline. Lines grow for a table, counter or drive-thru, and fewer available reservations are becoming common. For a restaurant trying to rebuild, not meeting customer expectations for service and experiences can hinder growth. Technology is available that helps staff do more with less; if a restaurant labor shortage is standing in the way of business growth. These three technologies can help.
1. Self-Service Ordering and Payment Kiosks
Self-service and payment kiosks are one solution to a restaurant labor shortage. Customers can socially distance and complete their transactions without talking to an employee. Although it sounds impersonal, customers often prefer self-service stations because they can take their time and input their selections exactly how they want them prepared. By empowering the customer to input their own order, restaurant owners reduce the opportunity for workers to make errors.
Also, instead of hiring more staff, kiosks allow employees to be reassigned to cover areas that are short-handed. Kiosks pay for themselves over their lifetime by encouraging larger orders and boosting customer spending by as much as 30 percent. Furthermore, in areas of the country where wages are increasing, kiosks can also help control labor costs.
2. Online Ordering
People are still being urged to take precautions against COVID, so some risk-averse customers may limit their exposure by ordering online and taking their food to go. Adding staff to manage a flood of take-out orders or curbside delivery may be an impossible task during a restaurant labor shortage; instead, an integrated online ordering platform such as Ordering360 allows the restaurant to control the customer experience from start to finish. Door Dash and Uber Eats may be household names, but accepting online orders directly with a point of sale (POS) system means the business retains control and saves the hefty service fees associated with third-party solutions. Ordering360 also includes marketing services, contactless dine-in modules app and gift card services and more.
3. Order and Pay-at-the-Table Technology
When an establishment is suffering from a restaurant labor shortage, making extra trips to a stationary POS terminal takes time and can cause delays that affect everything from timely food delivery to table turnover. Also, many restaurants are expanding their outdoor space to accommodate cautious diners. The added distance to the POS terminal could add a few minutes to each table, and this time adds up quickly. Restaurant tech solutions can help solve these pain points.
For example, restaurants can implement tableside ordering and payments, including tablet-based mobile payment solutions that enable transactions anywhere – inside, outside, in the drive-thru or at curbside pickup. Restaurants also have the option to allow customers to pay by using their smartphones to scan a QR code on a receipt
Shaving minutes off each table adds up to major time savings, which means more table turns and increased revenues, even when short-staffed. Customer experience is also enhanced: it’s prompt, efficient, and accurate.
Reimagine the Restaurant
Many face-to-face customer interactions are now replaced with digital processes like self-service kiosks, order at the table technology and faster payment options. The technology required to implement these options may not be familiar to every restaurant owner or manager, but restaurant VARs are helping restaurants use them every day.
Contact us to find a local VAR who can help deploy the technology you need to meet the challenges of the restaurant labor shortage – and new challenges that the industry may face in the future.