RTN MARKET WATCH
RTN Market Watch, exclusive to Hospitality Technology, features thought leaders from the Restaurant Technology Network (RTN) community and their insights on what’s hot now and where the restaurant technology industry is headed.
HT reached out to industry insiders to get their perspectives on how restaurants can use technology during the current labor shortage.
The ongoing hospitality labor shortage is keeping many restaurants from operating at full capacity. More than half (51%) of restaurants surveyed don’t have the staff needed to handle on-premise demand this summer.
Using technology where possible to streamline the guest – and employee – experience is imperative.
Balancing third-party ordering with consumer direct (by going directly to the brand's website) as well as on-premise operations is a major focus. "Utilizing tech to capture the order, process the payment, and automate the order into the restaurant's POS system is happening throughout the industry. It is now possible for a customer to place the order and pick it up without ever talking with an employee at the restaurant. This allows the existing staff at the brick-and-mortar locations to better focus on the customer sitting at the tables," says Earl Enterprises’ CIO Tom Seeker.
Don't underestimate the impact of technology on the employee experience. "There have been studies done that have a direct correlation between frictionless technology and employee retention,” says Skip Kimpel, Senior Consultant, ConStrata. “If your team members are frustrated with the technology tools they have to use and serve the guest, they are going to start to look elsewhere. Meeting the demands and the communication preferences of the team members is also crucial to keeping them engaged and creating an environment that is fun to work in. You have to love what you do.”
Operators should also look at adding products and technology to assist the “the typical manual workload – think shaking, chopping, running food, etc.,” adds adds Lucy Logan, CEO of FoodCalc. “Use BOH solutions to speed up and streamline reports, trends and data to enable a more intentional-based operation."
With unemployment rate at 3.6%, operators need to embrace solutions to deal with staff shortages.
“The labor shortage is here to stay and the costs are only going to go up. Whether it is robotics, self-service (e.g. kiosks, apps), or other labor-saving tech, operators need to rethink how they manage with less labor. A new self-service cashier solution from Looq that leverages AI for product and facial recognition will be a game-changer," explains Alan Hayman, Founder and President of Hayman Consulting Group.
So many new technologies have been developed over the past few years that will aid in combating labor shortages; virtual drive-thru ordering assistants for quick service restaurants, robotic food runners in fast-casual and family dining restaurants, and even robot chefs to take the place of cooks in the kitchen. While these innovations seem like they take away from human interactions, the jobs they are performing aren’t guest-facing, and these technologies allow you to put people in other areas of your business," adds Amesha Tate-Thomas, Marketing Manager, Rosnet.
David Gosman, Global Industry Lead - Hospitality, HP, remains bullish on kiosks not only for CX, but also for the employee experience. “Ordering tools such as kiosks and mobile apps are a fantastic, user-friendly tool to offer, with less reliance on labor. The entire hospitality industry has had a tougher time hiring and retaining staff, so automating a portion of ordering is a great way to free up staff to address other high priority tasks,” Gosman says.