Technology is coming fast.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere. The global demand for AI technologies has grown rapidly in recent years, it permeates industries ranging from automotive manufacturing to digital marketing, and brings with it significant opportunities for improvement.
Foodservice is no exception, and for restaurants ready to explore its potential, AI can offer a whole host of benefits. This article will outline some of those benefits, while delving into how restaurateurs might leverage artificial intelligence to improve their operations.
Supercharge Your Delivery Service
The restaurant business is always evolving, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced eateries to rapidly adopt a number of brand-new strategies in order to cope.
Among those changes, an increased reliance on deliveries has helped make up for the lack of in-person diners in many areas.
That heightened demand for delivery service, in turn, has created several areas where AI can fine-tune how your restaurant operates.
AI in the Kitchen
For starters, there are AI programs like Satis.AI that can aid you with sequencing orders, analyzing your kitchen via camera feeds, and providing feedback to your staff in real time.
This can improve the speed with which your restaurant sends out deliveries, since you won’t only have to rely on human staff to process your orders.
What’s more, this can help ensure that each order is accurate, reducing waste and the number of refund requests you receive. Long term, AI technology like this might provide an increase in profitability and boost your overall customer satisfaction.
AI on the Road
AI has the capability to help you improve the delivery process and get orders to customers faster. Cutting-edge delivery software can account for traffic, travel distance, mode of transportation, and even driver behavior to calculate the best routes for deliveries.
While your drivers are out on the road, delivery management technology is able to collect data that you can use to further refine your procedures. For instance, vehicle sensors provide insights into the routes your drivers use and how long deliveries are taking to complete, which you may then use to assess the efficiency of your team.
Beyond that, though, vehicle video data can show you how your drivers behave on the road, allowing you to train delivery staff who are behaving unsafely, educate new drivers on how to behave behind the wheel, and limit risks to your business.
Streamline Your Processes
There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes action that goes into managing your restaurant and employees, which may be time-consuming. AI can help streamline these critical tasks so that you can spend more time focusing on other parts of your business.
Take scheduling employee work hours, for example. Normally, there’s a great deal of complexity involved with anticipating how much help you’ll need, figuring out which employees can cover which hours, and communicating calendars to your staff. AI is able to assume these responsibilities while providing additional functionality.
Some AI schedulers can forecast your labor demands and assist you with arranging on-call shifts or swapping shifts between employees on the fly. Others can determine who your top-performing employees are and assign them priority for your busiest shifts—all without you needing to intervene.
There are numerous other internal processes that might benefit from a similar AI makeover, like maintaining your inventory and purchasing supplies. You may wish to explore which of these you can automate to help free up even more of your time.
Supplementing Your Workforce
Though they don’t make up a vast percentage of the current foodservice workforce, AI-powered robots are poised to play a greater part in the restaurants of the future. As reported by Kate Bernot of Food Fanatics Magazine, there exists a wide range of robotized roles that may ease the hiring burden for restaurateurs.
On one end of the complexity spectrum, this includes technology like food ordering kiosks. These allow customers to choose what they want to eat, and, in some cases, have it prepared and served via an automated process, complete with mechanical waitstaff.
More advanced technologies in this space include robotic bartenders, which fully automate the experience of ordering drinks. Though they might still need a human companion to help them verify IDs, these machines have seen increased demand throughout the pandemic, thanks to their ability to memorize thousands of drink recipes, serve more drinks per hour than the average human, and do it all without getting fatigued.
Optimize Your Customer Strategies
Without customers, no restaurant could stay afloat, so it makes sense that you’d use AI technologies to strengthen that relationship in whatever way possible.
First and foremost, AI can help you analyze details about your current customer base, determining which customers are spending the most money and why, which will let you hone in on your ideal customer types and refine your targeting tactics.
Going further, AI can help you enhance engagement by predicting what future offerings will likely appeal to your target customers. Staying at the forefront of trends will help you hold onto your share of customers and manage resources more effectively to maximize profit.
Artificial intelligence presents a clear path for improving your restaurant’s overall efficiency and adapting to rapid industry changes (such as COVID).
To maximize these potential benefits, you should start by determining which of your processes are prime candidates for AI improvement, then start evaluating the tools that can help you make the transition to automation.
Thankfully, this technology is relatively inexpensive to implement, and in the long run, it may end up helping you save money while bolstering your bottom line.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer from the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics and, because she spent over six years in the restaurant business before writing full-time, takes a particular interest in covering topics related to the food and beverage industry. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter.