Restaurant management

The Restaurant Owner’s Dilemma in 2022: Automation Vs. Hospitality | modern restaurant management

In 2022, the restaurant industry stands at a kind of crossroads or, to put it in a more 21st century way, the industry has reached a turning point. Restaurants were already getting more high-tech before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but once it did, the adoption of solutions like contactless ordering and payment methods became a question of survival, in more ways than one.

Whether the Omicron variant turns out to be the last gasp of the coronavirus (hopefully) or not, things will, at some point, return to something resembling normality. This does not mean, however, that the pace of technology adoption by the restaurant industry should slow down. Automation and artificial intelligence have opened up new horizons of efficiency for operators who were reluctant to let go.

After all, this is an industry that can use all the efficiencies it can get, thanks to a labor crisis that doesn’t seem to be easing. Last November alone, a record one million American hospitality workers quit their jobs. According to a recent survey, a large number of restaurateurs across the country have weathered the punch of the pandemic and the Great Resignation by introducing more technology into their operations; 56% have implemented online ordering, 42% have automated more online and offline functions, and 33% have implemented contactless catering.

Improve the employee experience

That same survey found that 51 percent plan to automate more online operations in 2022, with 41 percent automating more on-site operations but don’t think for a second that this medium restaurants are interested in completely replacing. human beings. In fact, the vast majority (82 percent) are so keen on attracting and retaining employees that they plan to increase compensation in various ways, from raising salaries and offering bonuses to implementing new options. changeover for the kitchen staff.

When technology elevates the role of the human worker, there really is no dichotomy between automation and hospitality.

If restaurants are operating, out of necessity, with a reduced staff, one of the main functions of automation should be to improve the employee experience. Existing employees shouldn’t face an increased burden due to reduced team size, nor should the customer experience suffer from downsizing. The good news is that carriers are responding with the right technology to solve both of these problems at the same time.

Thanks to automation and contactless technologies, the management of a restaurant is increasingly in the hands of the customer. In many cases, customers scan a QR code with their own smartphone and order and pay without having to report their server. While many restaurateurs value this convenience, especially in fast-casual and quick-service establishments, few seek a fully automated dining experience.

Do more with less

Despite the industry’s best efforts to attract workers, the hospitality industry currently has a smaller labor pool than at any time in recent memory. Technology cannot completely solve this problem, but it can mitigate some of its impact. For example, it may mean that fewer servers are needed to cover more tables. When they can do more with less, restaurants and service staff have more operational bandwidth, and a smaller team can also foster more engagement among staff members. The focus can rightly shift from transactional interactions to higher quality customer experiences and engagements that leave a lasting impression.

When technology elevates the role of the human worker, there really is no dichotomy between automation and hospitality.

Customer-facing technology doesn’t just empower customers, automation can save servers from having to manually place orders or spend valuable service time accepting individual payments, for example. Because they focus less on logistical issues and more on building relationships, servers can dramatically improve the customer experience through more meaningful interactions.

It’s a pretty simple metric: happier customers offer servers more value, often in the form of increased average order value and bigger tips. In fact, statistics have shown that operations that have implemented customer-centric technology routinely see tips up to 26% higher than those that rely on traditional service models. Bigger tips mean happier servers, improving staff retention and reducing labor shortages.

When it comes to technology, the only way forward is moving forward, and whatever 2022 (and the years beyond) may bring, we’re sure to see more automation in the restaurant space. , both behind the scenes and in the hands of customers. If we can maintain the right balance, where increased operational efficiency supports both worker engagement and customer satisfaction, that’s an automatic win for everyone.