Restaurants have persevered through one of the worst years in the industry’s history. Dining room closures, investments in outdoor dining spaces and other health safety measures, accommodating consumers’ changing preferences for online ordering, and then a decline in sales in Q4 added up to $240 billion fewer in sales than expected levels for 2020. Moreover, circumstances are delivering a one-two punch, with businesses still adapting as they emerge from the worst days of the pandemic while recovery is hampered by a restaurant labor shortage. In April 2021, U.S. job openings grew to 9.3 million, with more than a million of those openings in food services and accommodations.
Open for Business?
Consumers are beginning to return to restaurant dining, but they may still find their favorite spots aren’t open. Due to the restaurant labor shortage, some restaurants have delayed reopening their dining rooms or have opened for a limited number of hours or are closed on a few days each week. Additionally, when diners get a table, they may not enjoy the same experiences they remember. When a restaurant is short-staffed, servers are covering more tables, chefs and food prep struggle to fill orders quickly and coordinate service for on-premises and takeout or delivery customers. Overall, operating with fewer employees adds up to fewer table turns, happy customers, and revenues.
Solutions for the Restaurant Labor Shortage
Efficiency and automation are the keys to helping restaurants operate until they can fill job openings. Technology enables:
Kiosks for self-service ordering and payment can give fast casual and quick service restaurant managers the freedom to reassign counter workers to other tasks. Furthermore, allowing customers to order for themselves at a kiosk can lead to an increase in revenues. When customers take their time to review options, add modifiers, and respond to upselling, orders can increase by an average of 30 percent.
- Order and pay at the table
For full-service restaurants, order- and pay-at-the-table solutions provide the ability to take orders at the table and send them directly to the kitchen. Also, at the end of the meal, servers can complete payment transactions tableside without walking back and forth to a stationary terminal. Time savings can be even more dramatic if the restaurant expanded its dining area to outdoor spaces. In addition, these solutions provide value to restaurants that offer curbside ordering and payments.
- Online ordering
Streamlining the online ordering process for your clients will help their restaurant operations in multiple ways. If your clients have been using third-party ordering and delivery platforms, associated costs are probably eating into their profits. Furthermore, it may be creating work that staff doesn’t have time to handle properly. If the restaurant’s point of sale (POS) system isn’t integrated with the third-party platform, the restaurant likely accepts orders on a tablet, and then an employee has to reenter the order, taking time and creating the risk of errors and waste. An online ordering solution that integrates with the restaurant’s POS system can address each of these pain points
Payments Solutions for Optimal Restaurant Operations in 2021
The payment platform your restaurant clients use will also impact how efficiently they can operate. Integrated omnichannel payments enable businesses to manage payments on all channels and automatically share data with the POS system and accounting program.
A full-featured platform also gives restaurants the ability to create the experiences that customers demand, such as contactless, touch-free payments and the ability to use their preferred payment methods.
Offer your clients solutions with integrated omnichannel payments as well as technologies and features that can help a smaller-than-usual restaurant staff do more with fewer hands and still deliver the dining experiences their customers expect. Taking time to talk through your clients’ pain points and find solutions that allow them to operate at capacity – even if there is a restaurant labor shortage – will help them increase revenues and stay in business. That’s an investment all restaurant ISVs and VARs should make to help clients navigate this current challenge — and ensure they’re around to do business with in the future.