Small Business

Why Technology is the Big Break in Tackling Restaurant Labor Shortage

Fast Casual. News FeaturesSeptember 23, 2021

Ever since the onset of the pandemic, restaurant owners have been dreaming of a time their restaurants would once again be filled with the chatter of happy customers.

Today, in most states, restaurants are allowed to open and function at full capacity. However, things have not panned out the way restaurant owners had envisioned. Although they have been given the green light to open fully, restaurant operators cannot find enough employees. Hampered by this shortage of staff, restaurants can only function at a capacity of up to 70%. It is now a common sight to see “Help Wanted” signs in nearly all restaurant windows.

Employees want to be paid better wages and rightly so. Unfortunately, at this juncture, restaurants simply cannot afford to offer higher salaries. Paying more to the staff would cut into the already battered profits of a restaurant.

In-house technology to the rescue

Under the current circumstances eating and drinking establishments need to find a way to manage with a smaller staff base. Technology can take on many tasks previously performed by human workers paving the way for restaurants to beat the labor shortage. Automation is a cost-effective solution with long-term benefits.

Since the pandemic was declared, every restaurant had to go digital, whether that was launching a website or mobile app. This automation of the ordering process made it easy for restaurants to carry on functioning with a fewer number of staff members. Since then, most guests have adapted to digital ordering and are now extremely comfortable navigating websites and mobile apps.

So continuing to automate even in-house operations can circumvent the issue of insufficient labor. As an added bonus, in-house digitization can double a restaurant’s revenue helping them quickly build themselves up once again.

Front-of-house automation options

In-house automation can include digitizing front-of-house activities by having self-ordering kiosks take orders. Industry giants have already discovered the advantages of self-ordering kiosks, particularly their potential to significantly increase each ticket size by prompting upsells and cross-sells, and making personalized menu recommendations based on historical buyer behavior. So beneficial have kiosks been to business that the bigwigs have decided to stick with them. It is now time for smaller restaurants to adopt this new technology too.

Beyond accepting orders, kiosks also include self-payment options with advanced payment security and reliability. Kiosks can completely take over the front-of-house staff’s duties minimizing the number of people needed to attend to customers.

QR-code activated menus are another wonderful digital dining solution. Guests can use their personal phones or tabs to access virtual versions of a restaurant’s menu, place multiple orders and pay online without the intervention of wait staff. This too can help make a restaurant’s customer-service become more efficient than ever before.

Connecting to the back-of-house

Automation is not restricted to just front-of-house activities. Technology can link the entire order process from front-of-house to back-of-house. All digital orders can be pushed to the POS and kitchen on a Kitchen Display System (KDS). This seamless transmission of information eliminates the need for staff to run to and from the kitchen, once again reducing staff activities.

Phasing digitization

Many restaurant operators balk at automation because of a misconception that adopting technology is a complex procedure. This stems from the misguided notion that there has to be a complete overhaul in one go. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, taking it a step at a time and automating the ordering process in stages can save tons of dollars (and restaurant owners will be able to see this for themselves when they calculate their annual revenue).

Reaping long-term rewards

Traditional modes of operation cannot touch the experience of automation. In addition to resolving the current labor shortage, technology provides a host of other benefits: it reduces wastage, gives insights into daily data, builds deeper connections with customers, makes customers happy and so much more.

Although the labor shortage is a temporary problem, automation offers long-term gains. This is why more and more restaurants are turning to technology: it gives them an immediate boost and sets them up to run successfully for years to come.



This article was written by Dinesh Saparamadu from Fast Casual. News Features and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to