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According to the 2023 State of the Restaurant Industry report from the National Restaurant Association (NRA), 62% of restaurant operators are understaffed to meet customer demand, and only 10% believe that recruiting and retaining employees will be easier his year. At the same time, 89% of restaurant owners are facing higher labor costs, leading to 48% of restaurants reducing hours and 32% cutting staff just to make ends meet.
Thankfully, there are solutions to the labor issues you may be facing. By implementing the right technology, you can manage your operations with the staff they already have—and do so more efficiently and cost effectively.
Here are five ways technology can help bridge the labor gap:
1. Use handheld devices
Handheld POS devices can enable servers to take orders, split checks, and accept payments right at the table. By using handhelds, servers have more time to take extra tables and give better service. Handhelds can also be used as line busters and for taking orders outside the restaurant, enabling staff to cover more ground.
2. Create schedules based on sales
Labor-management software can make the unpredictable predictable by putting projected labor costs and sales right next to your schedule so that managers can coordinate every shift using data instead of guesswork. These tools also let you set labor budgets, prevent publishing schedules that aren’t within your limits, and restrict your staff from clocking in before their shift starts.
3. Use QR codes for ordering
QR codes allow customers to browse a menu, place an order, and even pay for their check with a couple of taps. Bars, breweries, and full-service restaurants can benefit from QR codes to serve more drinks, appetizers, and sides in addition to initial orders. Fine-dining establishments can use QR codes to provide information to their guests about each culinary masterpiece.
4. Put a KDS in your kitchen
Replacing printers with a kitchen display system (KDS) streamlines kitchen labor. KDS eliminates problems like lost tickets, greasy fingerprints, and jammed paper or ink ribbons. With a KDS, cooks can see valuable information at a glance, like how long each order is taking with a timer, modifiers that are highlighted for clarity, and special-order instructions from servers that reduce the back-and-forth verbal barrage with the front-of-house.
5. Eliminate cash tip distributions
Tip management software can automatically calculate and distribute tips to your staff, saving your managers hours a week from an otherwise time-consuming ordeal. Servers only need to turn in the cash they owe the house, and if you owe them, the funds are automatically transferred to their bank.
By using these technology tools, restaurant owners can manage their operations with the staff they already have, thereby reducing labor costs and retaining employees.