3 ways technology can help solve labor shortages

Caroline Price of Toast reveals how operators can use technology to help cover labor shortages.

Employee turnover has been a pervasive issue in the restaurant industry throughout the 21st century with more restaurant employees quitting than in any other industry in 2021. Throughout the past few years, many understaffed restaurants have been unable to hire enough people, forcing them to cut hours or operate with fewer team members than necessary.

The issue has gotten so bad that 9 out of 10 restaurant operators are struggling with staffing, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry, with many operators reporting that staffing levels are more than 20% below normal.

As the economy faces further uncertainty, and we see inflation, rising food costs, and supply chain issues impacting the industry, it’s more important than ever to make careful, sustainable changes that will make a lasting impact on your business and your employees. The good news is that technology is available to help you get there: Here’s how.

1. Lean on QR code technology

Digital menus and mobile payments make the dining experience easier for both guests and staff; let guests scan a QR code to browse a menu and pay from their mobile devices.

Having the QR code on your table as a “backup server” can be a game-changer when understaffed as it allows workers to focus more on hospitality and building guest connections and less on transactional tasks. With added technology, servers can also cover more tables and turn tables faster —often bringing in more tips and higher restaurant revenue.

2.Optimize the onboarding experience

Working in a restaurant can be intimidating, especially for employees newer to the industry. The work is fast-paced and high-pressure, and onboarding can be daunting. With hundreds of menu modifiers, specific technology processes, and strict standard operating procedures, strong orientations and onboarding experiences are essential to the success of your new team members.

Using technology for self-service onboarding can help new staff get ready to get out in the dining room much faster. Using intuitive technology, they’re able to understand the flow of orders, and the menu is right in front of guests at all times. Plus, you’ll decrease those newbie errors, saving your restaurant time and money almost immediately.

3. Pay a fair wage

Margins in the restaurant industry are tight, with the average restaurant profit margin typically around 5%. Labor costs are also increasing as wages increase, and restaurants need to pay employees more in order to retain team members.

With higher tips, built-in upsells, and larger check sizes, paying employees more is possible and sustainable. Increasing revenue by investing in the right technology means that restaurants can pay employees better and enticing them to stay longer on the team with more attractive compensation packages.

For the restaurant industry, the key takeaways are clear. Restaurants need to put their staff members at the forefront of their businesses, making it a priority to provide competitive pay, benefits and work-life balance. Technology can’t replace humans but can provide support. Finding that balance is key to enhancing your dining experience, and creating a healthy and happy workplace.

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