How restaurants use tech to transform tedious tasks

Would you like to take the drudgery out of energy-sapping tasks that are loathed by your restaurant team? If so, then Next-Gen technology can help.

Let’s be honest, most people didn’t get into the restaurant business to immerse themselves in bean-counting, HR or compliance. But star players within your team can easily find themselves diverted away from their passion — whether it’s food or customer service — by tedious-though-necessary tasks. And it’s a drag on everyone’s performance.

The good news is that Next-Gen tech can be a game changer. Many routine, manual tasks can either become fully-automated or completely re-engineered so they can be sorted in moments, not hours.

Here are just three simple examples:

#1 Inventory checks

Keeping an up-to-date record of what’s in the larder is essential to avoid running out of supplies, over-ordering and food going to waste. But stock takes can be an onerous task for busy staff and it’s tempting to keeping putting them off. Its not the most exciting/fulfilling of tasks for staff to complete and can cause tension between front office and back office and a lack of trust.

However, breakthrough technology can change that. In fact, one pizza chain with 30 stores managed to reduce stock takes from 2.5 hours to 15 minutes per outlet. As well as being great news for staff, this fed accurate data into the business instantly, leading to better purchasing decisions.

This time-saving is possible with Next -Gen tech, using a mobile inventory app that allows staff to stock take accurately — with zero re-keying. Staff are guided by the app to each store area. They then simply count using a pre-filled list of all the ingredients and products they should see in front of them. The data is recorded, stock levels are automatically updated and any variances are raised immediately.

#2 Staff scheduling

Planning shifts for weeks ahead is essential to a restaurant’s smooth-running. But it’s often difficult for managers to find time. And then there’s all the complexity around staff holidays and trying to match staffing levels with how busy the restaurant is likely to be, while keeping costs down.

With Next-Gen tech, staff scheduling no longer needs to be a time-consuming, manual task that’s prone to errors. For example, with iiko’s  tools, you can determine the number of employees you need for a particular shift, check who’s available, and then assign your staff quickly.

Using colour codes, the system can tell you how many people you need. For example, red indicates the wrong number and green shows you’ve assigned the correct number of employees – based on accurate AI sales forecasting. The system can also indicate shift overlap issues, when someone’s unavailable, or if they’re working the shift already but on a different team. Managers can also speed up staff scheduling by copying and pasting reoccurring shifts.

Importantly, the schedule planner displays your labour costs, as you make your changes, so you can keep the business on budget. Staff can also log in via their personal iiko account and check their shifts instantly.

Other processes can even be ‘self-driving’ including the creation of sales forecasts, prep plans and automatic/suggested purchasing. A great way to eliminate necessary but energy-sapping tasks.

#3 Allergen records

This is one of those areas that attract huge media attention and bad feedback from diners when things go wrong. Some guests may encounter allergic reactions if you’re not clear about allergens in your menu items.

With Next-Gen, it’s easy to create an allergens database with ingredients linked to menu items. Allergens then appear automatically on your order-taking screens. Waiting staff simply click on the icon next to the dish’s name. All the details are at their fingertips, which enhances customer service, makes diners feel confident and improves safety.

It’s also possible to have lists of allergens printed on the customers’ order/bill automatically — or printed as a sticker that’s supplied on food packaging, such as a pizza box.

With a system like iiko, keeping and sharing allergen records becomes far easier. Everything is stored safely on a central system — that everyone can access easily and confidently. There’s no need for staff to go hunting for a dog-eared paper file behind the bar that has to be reprinted regularly to be kept up to date.

Critical business information flows freely

The beauty of Next-Gen restaurant tech is that information is captured in real-time (where it happens) and then flows freely between the front and back of house. There’s one version of the truth and all your team are connected.

Meanwhile, the tech uses automation and artificial intelligence to interpret the data and share it between processes. As a result, 80% of daily routines can be automated, so your team can spend less time on admin drudgery — and more of their day focusing on providing great food and service to your customers.