It’s no secret that the United States’ low unemployment rate at 3.7% as of June 2019, is contributing to labor shortage issues in the restaurant industry, something that countries around the world are experiencing as well. A more robust economy means workers have options, causing more to leave the restaurant industry entirely.
For many restaurant operators, the trouble is not just about finding enough low-skilled workers. They must also find skilled staff members to replace the gaps created when more senior and specialized people leave. The costs to hire their replacements, not to mention train and retain them, are enormously high.
This high turnover is a lot for restaurant owners and managers to combat, but there is hope, and the answer lies in automation.
To be clear, automation is not about eliminating people. It’s about utilizing technology to handle repetitive tasks and streamline workflows within the restaurant. Brands who aim to provide exceptional customer service need not fear: Automation will not take away jobs from humans, nor will it lessen the restaurant experience or eliminate the need for human interaction. The service experience is still central to dining at restaurants. Automation will allow restaurants to use technology to simplify certain tasks and move workers to where they can continue to provide that human touch.
One area in which technology can help automate processes is during the food-ordering phase. Instead of having kitchen workers shout food orders to each other or use printed chits, restaurants can employ technology that will allow servers to input orders via a handheld tablet right at the guest’s table. That order will automatically get routed to the correct production area, such as at the kitchen display screen right at the grill. This would reduce the potential for human error and miscommunication between workers.
Automation can also ensure, for example, that steaks are grilled to the correct amount of “doneness.” A restaurant’s kitchen display system calculates the cooking time and also delivers prompts to the screen for other dishes on the ticket. This way, there will be consistency among cooks and across the franchise system.
When it comes to customers, research and trends show that guest preferences for the way they interact with restaurants have changed. They are looking for convenience, high-quality service and seamless experiences from beginning to end. This includes their experiences using reservation systems, joining loyalty programs and making payments.
Critically, automation can help reduce, if not eliminate, errors in order-taking. Tableside ordering tablets and kiosks can all be used to help reduce order errors so guests can get exactly what they want. More than ever, customers are also used to customizing their meals to suit their particular palate, whether they are vegetarian or vegan, have food allergies, and so forth. Automation can support the wants and needs of these diners. Not only will this help servers and operators, but it will also ensure that guests have a positive customer experience.
The future of the restaurant industry depends upon automation. If restaurants want to keep up with customer demands and consumer trends, they need to get on board with automation to help streamline processes. A year from now, the importance of having very integrated systems will be at the forefront of the restaurant industry, and so restaurants would do well to start preparing.
Restaurant automation will become even more prevalent as mid-sized and large chains start to get on board. Competition in the restaurant industry is notoriously fierce, but by employing automation, restaurants of all sizes will be able to stay ahead of the game.
This article was written by Graham Campbell from Fast Casual. News Features and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.