Full-service restaurant operators still have time to become early adopters of automation technology and reap the advantages.

Within the restaurant industry, there has been a rapid push toward incorporating automation technology. Quick-service restaurants and fast-casual businesses have adopted automation rather quickly via inventory tracking, cash register transactions, and food safety monitoring, while full-service restaurants are still easing into the adjustment. These early full-service adopters, however, can spend more of their time focused on revenue-generating activities by letting the technology drive more of their day-to-day operations.

Take Your Time” vs. “The Time You Take”

According to NRA’s 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 95 percent of consumers say good service is a key point of consideration when choosing a table service restaurant. More often than not, the difference between good and bad service is timing. Full-service restaurants host consumers with a broader expectation of timeliness, but no matter where a patron falls on the spectrum of preferred service, it’s in the best interests of the business to maximize profit per table. That said, there are two approaches to doing so: quantity and quality. On one hand, a server can turn tables quickly to maximize the number of customers hosted in a day—quantity. On the other hand, providing great customer service and enhancing the patrons experience can also be profitable—quality. The key is to judge which approach is best for your business, or for a particular customer. When training staff, managers can use strategic video monitoring to keep a pulse on what’s working best—quantity, quality, or a combination of the two.

The best full-service restaurants often conduct frequent, intensive sales trainings with standard operating procedures to make certain that all of the staff is on the same page. Leveraging automation and video enables the owner to determine whether techniques such as strategic selling or appropriate table-side check-ins are occurring. This efficiency allows owners to spend more time on other revenue drivers, such as generating demand and driving customers to the establishment.

Get to the Meat of Your Variable Cost

In addition to time, consumers expect quality products from a full-service restaurant. From a business owner’s perspective, this means that inventory management is especially important. For example, before getting to your customer's plate, a steak filet will make many pit stops: from the refrigerator, to the prep station, back to the refrigerator, to the grill, to resting off the grill, to the plate, and finally to the table.

Naturally, there are going to be instances in which something in the process goes awry. Consider a recent report from the National Restaurant Association which found that 10 percent of food purchased by a restaurant or foodservice operation is discarded before ever reaching guests. The key to avoiding inventory management-related shrink is to diagnose where the system is breaking down and to address it at quickly as possible.

Video monitoring, in combination with appliance sensors, are crucial to automating inventory management. Sensor data can connect a dip in refrigerator temperature with video footage of an employee accidentally leaving the door open, or faulty lining preventing the door from properly closing. The right technology can make or break your customer experience, and save your restaurant’s reputation.

Cue the Mood Music

Full-service restaurants also have basic ambiance and environmental nuances that define the restaurant’s atmosphere. Referencing a 2014 study from Technomic, “91 percent of [full-service restaurant] patrons say that an appealing ambiance influences their decision to visit a particular restaurant.” Small details such as lighting, music, and decor are all differentiators that set the tone for a customer’s dining experience. With automated lighting and thermostats, business owners can easily program and adjust environmental triggers to manage and control the ambiance of their establishments. For instance, an owner can schedule the thermostat to increase the temperature after sunset to maximize customer comfort, or cue the lights to shine brightly during the day. Not only can these adjustments be used in a single-location restaurant—business owners who oversee multiple locations can use this automation to ensure they are providing an enhanced, consistent experience at all of their establishments.

The needs of a restaurant are solely dependent on their priorities. No matter your objective, however, there’s tremendous value in leveraging ADT Pulse and its suite of automation solutions to maximize your business results.

The opinions of contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by FSR magazine or Journalistic Inc.

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