Best Strategies for Restaurants with a Short Staff

Best Strategies for Restaurants with a Short Staff

Best Strategies for Restaurants with a Short Staff

The National Restaurant Association discovered that roughly four out of every five businesses were understaffed in September 2021. Staff shortages, thankfully, do not mark the end of your restaurant's operation. There are various ways to consolidate your restaurant's operations in order to increase the productivity of your workforce. With restaurant software evolving at a breakneck pace, you'll have a plethora of options to choose from.

However, simplifying your restaurant is more than simply software. There are a number of low-tech methods for reducing the amount of human attention—and work hours—needed to manage your business. This is our best advise for preparing your front-of-house, back-of-house, and back-office operations to withstand a worker shortfall.

Front of House Services

The front of house (FOH) of a restaurant encompasses all customer-facing sections and often requires the most workers. Front-of-house personnel may include hosts, waiters, bartenders, baristas, bussers, and food runners, depending on the kind of establishment. Then there are the clients, their orders, and money to deal with. The majority of your FOH's solutions include customer-facing software.

  • Make use of rapid response (QR) codes: A QR code is a square barcode that can be read by smartphones. They were developed in Japan in 1994, but gained popularity globally during the COVID-19 epidemic. Customers' smartphones' cameras may scan a QR code that directs them to your restaurant's online ordering site, resulting in a portable order and payment gadget. A QR code generator is included in some restaurant point-of-sale (POS) systems. If you don't have a POS, various websites offer free QR code generation. QR codes will not eliminate all of your front-of-house workers, but they will lower the number of servers required and free up your existing staff to focus on other responsibilities.
  • Install self-ordering kiosks: Self-ordering kiosks no longer demand a large financial investment. Most tablet-based POS systems now feature extra software that allows tablets to be converted into customer-facing kiosks. This is a good technique for counter service businesses that are short on cashiers but have a surplus of POS terminals; just turn your POS terminals to kiosks. Kiosks that collect orders and payments have been demonstrated to increase restaurant sales. According to kiosk firms' own research, self-ordering kiosks may reduce table turnover times by six to nine minutes, improve waiter gratuities by 15%, and encourage consumers to spend 21% more each check.
  • Sell ahead of time: Using a ticket-based concept to sell your meals ahead of time is nothing new. This model has been used for some years by high-end, independent eateries. A ticket approach is ideal if you are short on employees. Customers order and pay for their meals, tax, and tip in advance and arrive on time at your business. All you need to do is prepare the dish. A ticket approach also helps you to regulate the flow of client traffic in your restaurant, preventing your employees from becoming overburdened.
  • Use ready-to-drink beverages: This is a low-tech approach with a large impact. Replace your fountain drinks and made-to-order beverages with ready-to-drink (RTD) bottled and canned beverages. Using RTD drinks, including bottled beer and cocktails, allows your employees to focus on other duties. It also puts an end to the phrase "free refills."

Back of the House Techniques

Restaurant kitchens need a great deal of human care, especially if your establishment is busy. The trick in the kitchen is to simplify procedures without sacrificing food quality. To make adjustments to your back-of-house business, you don't need to acquire a burger-flipping robot.

Here are a few simple ways to begin simplifying your kitchen:

  • Menu simplification: The key aim is to get back to basics. Meals that do not sell well should be removed, and dishes that need several components or extensive preparation periods should be examined. Is it possible to cut the number of ingredients or work hours without compromising the dish? Can you change the meals to require less cook stations? Can a fried protein be replaced with a roasted protein that requires less care during service? Simplifying your menu will lower the number of chefs required to work concurrently.
  • Purchase pre-prepared items: Purchase pre-diced ingredients such as onions and carrots from your supplier. If fresh pasta is one of your specialties, seek for a high-quality pre-made product from your suppliers. Consider purchasing bread and pastries from a nearby bakery or small company. Pre-prepared ingredients save you the time your cooks would otherwise spend chopping and baking goods that are easily obtained elsewhe.
  • Switch to single-use: Casual restaurants can replace dishes and flatware with single-use items that don’t require washing. This can be as simple as using metal baskets with paper liners in a burger joint or sturdy, pressed fiber plates for salads or burritos. When it comes to selecting your single-use vessels, remember: 55% of consumers say they are concerned about the environmental impact of product packaging. So stick to sustainable and recyclable options. You’ll be supporting customer tastes while saving money on dishwashing hours.

Back-Office Services

Adding additional software capabilities to your POS system will save you time in the back office. It may even minimize the number of restaurant managers required. This is a simple approach to innovate if you utilize a cloud-based POS. If you're thinking about adding additional restaurant software to your POS, you're not alone: 65 percent of restaurant owners want to extend their POS with new modules in the coming months.

The following are the greatest tools for optimizing your restaurant's back office:

  • Employee scheduling software: If you haven't already started utilizing scheduling software to handle employee schedules, now is the time. Scheduling software tracks your employees' availability, time off requests, and hours spent. Most systems may also evaluate your labor expenditures, recommend schedule modifications, and send notifications to your employees' smartphones. This one modification might save you five to ten office hours every week.
  • Inventory management tools: Almost every restaurant POS nowadays features built-in or integrated inventory capabilities. Importing all of your ingredients, recipes, and merchants might take some time. However, after you have done so, you will have a completely automated vendor ordering assistance. Inventory management software may track ingredients as you use them, alerting you to low supply and recommending vendor purchases. Many come with vendor management, allowing you to make and manage purchase orders straight from your POS interface. These tools will also help you to do physical inventory counts more quickly. No more copying paper counts into spreadsheets to compute food prices and check for loss; integrated inventory software allows you to manage live counts using tablets or smartphones. These computerized counters display the counting progress in real time and calculate your food and beverage prices automatically.
  • Automated marketing: Restaurants rely on recurring consumers more than any other business strategy. Most restaurants generate a higher proportion of their sales from repeat customers than from new customers. You may remind returning consumers to forthcoming events and specials by using targeted, automated email and text message advertising. It also aids in converting new clients into repeat customers. Most cloud-based POS systems include automated message modules as an optional extra or interact with client relationship management software. You may construct bespoke guest lists depending on their eating preferences, frequency of visits, or future birthdays. Your marketing module will deliver personalized messages automatically, saving you time.

Adjust your operation hours if you want a low-tech back-office solution. Examine your sales and traffic reports. Can you open an hour sooner or close an hour later most days? If your sales are typically lower on certain days of the week, consider shutting that day to give yourself (and your employees) a day off. These modifications may not be permanent, but they can provide a temporary answer until you can re-staff.

In conclusion

Regardless of personnel availability, the restaurant industry is still a people-oriented one. Customers demand a personal touch, which technology is unlikely to replace. Intelligent use of certain software tools and streamlining tactics can assist your restaurant in making the most of its workforce. Reduce the amount of hours each staff member is required to work and streamline the activities they complete to reduce another epidemic sweeping the restaurant industry: employee fatigue.

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