Investing in technology could lead to untapped savings.
One of the many disruptions that came from COVID-19 is The Great Resignation. No industry is immune to the large numbers of employees resigning to look for higher wages or a different career, but restaurants have been hit particularly hard. An estimated 3% of the American workforce quit their jobs in late 2021, but that number was double in the hospitality industry.
After two years of disruption – closures, pivoting to off prem, supply chain problems, and more – labor is top of mind for restaurateurs. Many hospitality employees left the industry in search of higher pay. So, in this market, the issue may be more a wage shortage than a labor shortage.
But how do you compete with higher wages and recruit in this notoriously low-margin industry? Operators can use restaurant technology to find previously untapped savings and use that to reinvest in attracting and retaining good employees while maintaining profitability.
Update your tech stack
Modernizing restaurant technology was on the rise pre pandemic, but, as with so many things, that was put on hold as brands went into survival mode. However, restaurant IT teams are seeing budget again and many have re-focused on finding modern tech that fits their goals.
Updating tech will look different for every brand, so it’s important to evaluate your goals and see how it will fit into the long-term plan, as well as how you can do this with budget in mind. This could look like ensuring the point of sale and back of house systems you choose integrate, so you aren’t wasting time on manual data imports. Or maybe you are looking to consolidate multiple vendors into a single system.
Whatever your particular needs, modernizing tech should be a priority. The pandemic has shown that the needs of modern restaurant brands are no longer being met by manual processes. It is not sufficient to do your reporting in a spreadsheet, inventory on a clipboard, or to let employees struggle with out-of-date legacy software.
Tap into data, not your gut
One of the many reasons to modernize your restaurant technology is to get good data in ways that make sense to you. Information is great, but information overload is real. Your data does you no good if you have an endless stream of data points overwhelming your team.
Making data-based decisions requires reporting that is easy to access, easy to understand, and easy to share. Strong technology ensures the integrity of your data by rolling up information from all systems into a single source of truth.
Setting up reports that make sense for your business allows you to take the guesswork out of your next step. Whether it’s reinforcing training by finding out some managers are letting checklist items slide, or optimizing menu pricing, you no longer have to act on gut feeling and hope it works out.
Make inventory a priority
Every operator knows food can make or break profitability, so why are so many still neglecting regular inventory? Manual processes are often the culprit, making full inventory time consuming and frustrating enough that it slides from weekly to every few weeks.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Keeping a close eye on top items and making weekly inventory a consistent practice work wonders for being able to spot troubling variances. You may have food walking out the back door, or a manager that trained employees to overportion. Whatever the issue, knowing your inventory and depletion is the first step to fixing the problem.
Additionally, predictive prep tools are a lifesaver when it comes to reducing waste. These tools make it easy for employees to know what needs to be prepped, how much needs to be prepped, and when. You avoid waste from an ingredient going bad before it can be sold, or a stressed employee making too much of one item two hours before close.
Focus on scheduling smarter
Good managers are the backbone of a restaurant, but even the best managers are making educated guesses when it comes to manual schedule creation. Instead, look for labor and scheduling systems that can recommend needed staffing levels based on your sales forecasts.
This not only removes an hour of work each week for your manager, but also makes it easier for employees to swap shifts, pick up open shifts, request PTO or other schedule management needs from their phones. You get optimized labor levels, plus happier employees.
Navigating the pandemic has not been easy and the high competition for labor is yet another wrench in the works for restaurant operators. However, you can find ways to streamline work, reduce costs, and increase visibility, allowing you to maintain margins while increasing wages to attract employees.
Greg Staley is the CEO of SynergySuite, a back-of-house restaurant management platform. Greg focuses on facilitating better visibility and increased profitability for restaurant chains through the use of intelligent, integrated back-of-house technology. For more information, please contact Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.