How to empower restaurant staff and reduce turnover using the right technology

restaurant waitress

November 10, 2020

In the quick-service restaurants and managed food services sectors, the faster the throughput on higher volumes of orders, the higher the potential for profitability. All the while, there are evolving expectations to deliver meals and snacks quickly and precisely, sometimes with specific customizations to suit each guest. During a busy shift, that can be a lot of pressure on service staff, many of whom are holding down their first-ever jobs and are therefore bound to make mistakes. What’s been the answer to achieving optimal order speed and accuracy in recent years?

Self-serve kiosks and mobile ordering have played an important role in this vital area of the business by handing control over to the guest. Technology like this takes a lot of the pressure off of front-line staff. In fact, it redefines how jobs are organized at the operations level while also creating a channel that guests actively seek out during their experience – autonomy over the ordering process, and with the ability to customize their orders without being misunderstood by a staff person. Another is an ongoing challenge when it comes to better managing operating costs – staff retention. First, let’s take a look at how service jobs are changing

Redefining service jobs

The way that guests order and receive their meals and snacks has been undergoing a shift in the last few years, even before the lockouts that have increased mobile-based orders by 63%. To meet the demand in an era where guest-driven ordering has ramped up in response to social distancing requirements, the details of the order are best managed by the guest via technology, enhancing speed, accuracy, and accessibility to a new approach to serve present needs. This trend has shifted the emphasis of service from the order taking end of the spectrum toward the order fulfilment side. The order accuracy side of the equation is managed by the guest themselves.

In this, mobile ordering functionality and on-site kiosk orders don’t really replace workers so much as they alleviate some of the stressful aspects of keeping track of order details and ensuring that there aren’t any miscommunications between the guest and the service staff member. This makes the need for customer-facing order-taking a far less stressful and even less wasteful dynamic for everyone, getting orders to the guest faster with a greater sense of focus and with less friction to do their best work. For organizations and their staff, integrated restaurant point of sale technology enables more efficiency, fewer issues that arise from order errors and the costs associated with resulting wastage, a better experience for the guest, and greater job satisfaction for service staff members, too.

Slowing down restaurant service staff turnover

That last point about job satisfaction is important, not only for the well-being of staff members, but also with a dollar value for the business attached. Reducing pressure on restaurant and food services service staff using technology to remove inefficiencies and friction helps organizations to address a persistent problem that is a constant source of instability and cost; employee turnover which has an average churn rate of about 73%. That number is high and for a few different reasons including those of the average worker’s age. Saying that, more and more workers in QSRs and food services are adults age 25 and older, comprising more than 40% of the workforce that bring the value of experience to their work.

Considering this, it’s never been more important to retain talent than it is now, with the cost per employee estimated by the National Restaurant Association at $2,000 per employee as of the summer of 2019. That is not insignificant. If an investment in technology can take the pressure off the average worker and allow them to concentrate on fulfilment instead of having to be a hub of information for the details of every order, that helps brands to make better use of their labor. Additionally, workers are then less likely to suffer burnout (also an alarming industry trend) when self-serve and mobile technology does more of the heavy lifting. This makes work environments more efficient and less stressful for service staff. It also allows for greater cost savings due to less wastage and staff churn as well as a better guest experience. 

Creating resilience with the right technology

Quick-service and full-service restaurants and food services concepts that invest in and develop a cloud-based platform that is scalable and provides a sustainable basis for resiliency. Businesses are better able to meet guest expectations by aligning with their preferences to self-ordering channels. They’re better able to support service staff by providing a structure defined by the right technology that encourages them to do their best work without undue pressure. From there, the likelihood to slow down staff turnover is that much higher, too.

Investing in technology is a prime strategy for retaining talent and being more competitive in an era when the conditions to create a superior guest experience is evolving fast. What other factors represent a path to resilience in the 2020s? Our eBook that addresses key ways to do that is available to you right now.

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