The devastating effects of the restaurant industry’s labour shortage show no signs of abating any time soon. Technology must play an integral part in any restauranteur’s HR strategy in order to thrive will less staff.
Recently, Restaurants Canada sat down with Andrew Infantino, Marketing Specialist at Foodtastic, a leading Canadian multi-brand restaurant company, and RP Plourde, Head of UEAT University, to discuss their tips for implementing technology to mitigate applicant scarcity and staffing issues.
Invest in online marketing for your employer brand
Gone are the days that a “Help Wanted” sign triggered a steady influx of potential candidates. Even before the pandemic, new generations of employees are looking for meaningful work—not just a job. They want to feel comfortable and proud to be employed by a company that is aligned with their values.
Through your website, social media and even online job boards, it is critical to convey what your restaurant’s brand stands for, its core set of values, mission and culture. What makes your business so special? How do you differentiate from the competition? Why would employees want to wake up in the morning and work for you?
One caveat: your employer brand cannot be a simple marketing ploy to attract candidates: it should permeate throughout front- and back-of-the-house operations as well the customer experience.
Leverage online tools for training and career development
Employees nowadays need to feel inspired and that the time they are investing in their work is actually going to lead them to a better future. More than ever before, restaurateurs will need to dedicate time and resources to continue training staff.
Apart from standard training programs during the onboarding process, restaurant managers should explore online training platforms that have been specifically designed for restaurants. Many online destinations for restaurateurs offer a wide range of videos, webinars, and other resources that can be excellent learning opportunities for your staff.
Some savvy restaurant brands are also leveraging private Facebook pages or YouTube channels for employees, for example, to post quick snippet videos on everything from upselling techniques to insights into managerial roles. Inspiring employees on how your restaurant can help their careers, either in the industry or elsewhere is power means to incite passion in their jobs.
Make the most out of contactless and online ordering
Contactless self-ordering and payments in a restaurant’s dining room as well as online ordering through your website or mobile app definitely boosts the efficiency of front-of-the-house teams. Rather than constantly answering the phone for delivery orders, taking orders on-site, and sanitizing both menus and terminals, waiters and reception clerks can focus on more value-added tasks that elevate the customer experience, which motivates staff who are “people persons.”
But beyond the customer-facing advantages, restaurant tech platforms can also enable restaurateurs to control the availability menu items and online ordering to reduce pressure on staff during peak periods. Promotions can also be created to drive sales and keep staff busy during daily/weekly lulls. With non-intrusive upselling features, ordering platforms can increase average ticket sizes without the need for any human intervention, which can significantly contribute to improving margins and using the extra cash for employee benefits and perks.
Finally, more advanced ordering systems for restaurants can provide access to analytics and dashboards for restaurateurs to better understand trends and purchasing habits—as opposed to relying only on their intuition. Armed with data, restaurants can better schedule staff and food prep and increase the accuracy of inventory forecasting, inevitably leading to cost savings. Again, these savings can be reattributed to employees.
While technology is not a panacea for all of a restaurant’s staffing challenges, it can definitely ease some of the difficulties dealing with limited staff.