After-shocks for restaurants #2: Solving the staff crisis

Attracting and retaining loyal and committed staff is starting to emerge as one of the biggest challenges in the post-Covid world for restaurants, bars and cafes. Fortunately, tech can help.

If you’re having trouble hiring experienced staff, you’re not alone.

Restaurants are struggling to find staff after around one in 10 UK hospitality workers left the sector, which has been hit by lockdown closures, according to Personnel Today.

The problem is impacting continental Europe too. The Financial Times reports from Germany, where a lack of hospitality staff is threatening to hold back an expected economic rebound as Covid restrictions ease.

The Economist suggests that some businesses will have to raise wages if they want more staff. And The Guardian quotes the head of one restaurant chain as saying: “People are offering silly money to reasonably low-level managers and chefs.”

Clearly, remuneration needs to be competitive to attract staff. But is a big hike in hourly rates the answer — when margins are so tight? When you consider that payroll is estimated to account for 25-40% of restaurant revenue, getting staff costs wrong can have serious consequences.

However, tech can help you to address the issue from a different perspective.

Five steps towards the new world of work

With Next-Gen restaurant tech, you can transform the ‘people experience’ for your team, making your business a more attractive place to work. Here are five ways to introduce positive change.

Step #1: Use an all-in-one system as the bedrock for everyone working as one great team

Employee frustration and disillusionment is often down to poor communication, manual processes and a business failing to work as a single entity. Front-of-house and back-of-house operations each hold business-critical information but they fail to sync in a meaningful way.

However, it’s possible to bring about change through Next-Gen restaurant tech that covers every aspect of a bar or restaurant. This means that important datapoints, such as reservations, orders, batches, prep plans, stock receipting, partial stock takes, returns, waste and other events, are captured in the moment  — and then ripple across other processes automatically. This keeps everyone on the same page and reduces friction dramatically.

Step #2: Provide staff with intuitive tech that makes their lives easier

People relish state-of-the-art tech. They rely on it at home — and value it at work. Using Next-Gen restaurant tech, you can implement a people-friendly solution that puts zero reliance on paperwork, spreadsheets or people needing to pass on messages to colleagues.

You can introduce intuitive, light-touch processes across your business — from the prep area to the grill, and the storeroom to the serving counter. In just a click or two, your staff can record every event on the system, adding key data so your operation runs smoothly. The tech feels second-nature to staff and so they can move easily between stores and use the same system effortlessly.

Step #3: Avoid or radically simplify the manual tasks that everyone hates

A tech first-style approach won’t mean simply replicating traditional processes with digital ones. Instead, you’ll re-engineer and automate many of your routine operations so they become virtually self-driving, while simplifying other tasks.

Daily activities, like kitchen prep plans or other routine tasks, can be generated automatically to keep everyone on track without needing a manager to monitor everything. Manually-intensive tasks, such as inventory counts, can be completed in moments with system prompts on a mobile phone or tablet. Alerts and reminders can be sent automatically to employees for a host of activities.

Step #4: Use tech to motivate staff, manage incentives and boost sales

With fewer basic tasks, staff are more motivated and can spend extra time with guests. With Next-Gen tech, it’s easy for managers to create and add deals, so prompts appear automatically on-screen when waiting staff are taking orders. These could be about side dishes, 2-4-1s on drinks, or special offers on desserts. These extras might boost revenue by 5% or more.

Your system can also include a ‘staff champions’ dashboard to reward strong sales and great performances. Managers can see each employee’s attendance rates, satisfaction scores, how many discounts/refunds they’ve given away. This way you can reward and retain your best people.

Step #5: Get better at forecasting— to optimise rotas and save on staff costs

The right technology will also help you to predict busy or quieter times with 95% or more accuracy using artificial intelligence . The system will assess previous data, seasonal factors, and any events you add, such as sports games or local festivals.

This way, you can build staff schedules with precision accuracy — so every working hour is used effectively and service quality remains high. Employees will feel more motivated too. There’s less chance of them feeling bored and under-deployed, or overrun and stressed.

A better ‘people experience’

With Next-Gen restaurant tech, it’s possible for up to 80% of daily routines to be automated and self-driving, so you can transform the ‘people experience’ of your team. They can focus more on adding real value to your business and its customers. This will give you a competitive advantage, whatever market conditions are around the corner.

How much could you save through digital transformation using Next-Gen restaurant tech?
Discover what labour savings could look like as well as further efficiencies in other areas of your business. Try our Next-Gen Tech Savings Calculator.