Since early 2020, the world has been reeling from the effects of COVID-19. While all industries have struggled to keep up, the restaurant business has been hit particularly hard.
First, with more people staying at home and ordering in, many restaurants were forced to close their doors, lay off employees, and attempt to weather the storm of a global pandemic.
Now, two years later, people are again comfortable going to restaurants. Customers seeking to regain normalcy want to experience a delicious meal they don’t have to make themselves. However, while the customers have returned in droves, the same cannot be said for the staff.
The reality of the restaurant industry labor shortage
It’s no secret that the restaurant industry is struggling to find employees. According to the National Restaurant Association, “As of April 2022, eating and drinking places were still 794,000 jobs – or 6.4% – below their pre-pandemic employment levels. No other industry has a longer road to reach a full employment recovery.”
This labor shortage, rightly referred to as a hiring crisis, has been exacerbated by rising inflation and job frustration, leading many to seek higher-paying positions with better hours and more opportunities. Sharp-tongued customers lashing out against overworked waitstaff and fast-food employees and low tips drove many frustrated workers out of the industry for good.
Plus, with more employees quitting, those who decide to stay often experience burnout, being denied vacation days and sick days, and working extra hours as restaurants struggle to keep their doors open with a skeleton staff.
Many restaurants have been forced to close dining areas, only able to maintain delivery or drive-thru windows. Wait times at sit-down restaurants are increasing even though tables sit empty — no longer because of COVID-19 restrictions, but simply because businesses don’t have the staff to operate at full capacity. Others have had to slash their operating hours, offering a limited service window and feeling the financial strain of losing potential customers.
Tattered, sunbleached “Help Wanted” signs have become a permanent fixture in the windows of most quick-service restaurants (QSRs). In their 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, The National Restaurant Association indicated that seven out of 10 business operators don’t have enough employees to support demand at their establishment.
Fortunately, it isn’t all hopeless. While the U.S labor shortage is unlikely to improve any time soon, helpful new technology can fill in the gaps: reducing the number of employees needed to run your restaurant effectively, improving customer experience, and taking the strain off of hardworking, worn-out staff.
Kiosks reduce the need for front-of-house staff
Dining areas with ordering kiosks are becoming more and more common as quick-service establishments seek to keep up with consumer demands and find creative solutions for the labor shortage.
Customers can use stand-alone, drive-thru, or table kiosks to order with ease. Kiosks serve as an excellent solution for the operational challenges presented by a lack of front-of-house staff.
Not only do self-ordering kiosks free up valuable employee time and reduce operating costs, but evidence suggests that customers spend an average of 20% more per visit when technology is used to place an order.
Digital signage seamlessly carries essential information
Bright, well-designed, strategically placed digital signage improves the customer experience and speeds up ordering time, making the drive-thru window of QSRs and counter service more efficient than ever.
Plus, installing a kitchen display system improves communication between the front-of-house and back-of-house, allowing cashiers to send orders to a well-organized screen in the kitchen within seconds.
Digital POS systems increase efficiency
Implementing digital Point of Sale (POS) systems throughout your restaurant can relieve pressure on cashiers and improve order accuracy and speed. Tableside ordering through POS systems satisfies the need for an organized digital sales system and reduces wait times while portable POS devices allow for efficient curbside delivery and digital ordering.
When an effective digital POS system handles the ordering process, employees can focus more on customer satisfaction and personalized service.
Free up employee time with cash management solutions
How much time do your employees spend counting, managing, and sorting cash? While cash purchases may be declining in popularity, they likely still make up a good portion of sales in your restaurant.
Incorporating technology for cash management into your operation frees up valuable employee time and removes human error, improving the accuracy of the cash handling process.
Technology is the labor shortage solution you’ve been looking for
Utilizing new technology in your QSR can help reduce the workload of your employees and allow you to serve more customers with fewer workers — revolutionizing the way you do business.
If you’re interested in implementing these solutions, contact Staley Technologies at (800) 280-9675 or get in touch online to speak with an expert about installing labor-saving technology in your restaurant today.