The automation age isn’t coming—it’s already here. Technology helps restaurants operate much more efficiently, from intuitive point of sale solutions to restaurant scheduling apps and ordering apps that eliminate wait times and improve delivery.
Restaurant staffing is right in the midst of the tech takeover. Automation has helped, and will continue to help, restaurants reduce labor costs, improve staff communication, and help employees earn better tips. Here are four ways restaurant automation will affect staffing:
Self-ordering kiosks will change your staff structure
Self-ordering kiosks help quick-service restaurants save on front-of-house labor costs by complementing in-person customer service staff, not by replacing them. Self-ordering kiosks help quick-service restaurants offset rising labor costs with increased revenue.
Often, restaurants forget that self-ordering kiosks increase ordering throughput, which then piles stress onto the back-of-house staff in order to keep up with demand.
Similarly, some restaurateurs assume that self-ordering kiosks will allow them to shrink their workforce on a one-to-one ratio—one kiosk equals one staff member replaced. However, the reality is that they may need to increase back-of-house staff to handle more orders…not a bad problem to have!
The takeaway? Test your restaurant’s input and output capacity after installing a self-ordering kiosk so that your kitchen staffing situation stays balanced with the influx of orders.
Staff communication will free up your manager’s time
Here’s a scenario you’re likely familiar with: It’s Saturday night. Your best server calls in sick. Your manager starts calling other servers to see if they can take the shift, but it’s taking a long time to find an available substitute. Dinner service is approaching quickly, and it seems that your restaurant is going to be short-staffed for the night. …Better get ready to start comping some unhappy customers.
Luckily, technology’s rewritten that scene and made it a thing of the past. Restaurant scheduling software lets servers pick up and trade shifts with nothing more than a tap of a phone screen, which allows your manger to focus on other things, like going above and beyond for your customers.
Data dashboards will save you more time and money
Restaurateurs who don’t create data-based schedules miss out on money-saving opportunities. Even so, in the past, diligent restaurateurs who loved digging into data had to sift through piles of spreadsheets and spend hours with their accountants to understand the status of their restaurant. Now, your POS should have a comprehensive data analytics dashboard that reports on crucial information at a glance.
Today’s POS dashboards allow you to check your labor reports against seasons, holidays, and more, which helps you schedule the right amount of staff at the right time. For example, you may have over-projected your staffing needs during last year’s Super Bowl event, and your labor report from that exact day can remind you not to schedule as many bartenders this year.
Data can also help you save in smaller ways that will build up over time. Consider the long-term impact of a leaner staff schedule at 5:00 p.m., when your reports show that your guests are just starting dinner and only ordering drinks. Scheduling the bulk of your kitchen staff just an hour later can save on labor costs in the long run.
Automation will increase check size…and tip amounts!
When people go out to eat, they want a great meal and a memorable experience. Technology helps servers fulfill their end of the customer-experience bargain in a few ways:
Upselling: A pen and paper won’t do much to remind your server to ask customers to add cheese to their burger. A mobile POS, on the other hand, will prompt servers with pop-up modifiers and tempt customers with tantalizing images.
Speed: Mobile technology sends orders directly to the bar and kitchen faster than you can say “order up!” Technology cuts down on the trips your servers take across the restaurant, meaning your customers are served quickly and with accuracy.
Face time: An overtaxed server might struggle to find time to charm customers with a cheerful chat. Technology can help servers work more efficiently, plus it can free them up to enjoy face time with the diners who like a side of friendly conversation with their meal.
A happier customer means a bigger tip for your server, which ultimately equals a happier server. And when your staff are satisfied by the money they’re making, they’ll be more likely to continue their careers at your restaurant, which translates into lower turnover costs for your business. Everyone wins!
Investing in new technologies for your restaurant is an essential part of running your business. Automation offers restaurants an operational edge that can mean the difference between closing up shop within a few years and surviving in a super-competitive market for years to come.
Tiffany Regaudie is a Content Marketing Specialist and Editor at TouchBistro, where she writes about restaurant and dining trends, restaurant management, and food culture. She’s passionate about traveling the world and getting to know communities through great food.