Despite the industry-wide recovery from the pandemic shutdowns, restaurant owners and operators find themselves stuck on both sides. Deep in the house, runaway inflation and continued supply chain disruptions are squeezing margins. At the same time, staffing is a pressing and ongoing concern in the room. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Industry Report, seven in 10 restaurant owners say they don’t have enough workers to keep their business open at full capacity. And the majority expects this problem to persist for the rest of the year.
To solve staffing issues and save money, restaurateurs need to find other ways to increase automation. Here are four effective ways to help your restaurant.
Automation eliminates human error while increasing efficiency and margins. Until now, the restaurant industry has operated with outdated analog technology, such as faxed orders and mailed invoices. Many managers still keep paper records, which is labor intensive and inefficient. For example, a single restaurant will deal with multiple vendors simultaneously, generating 50-100 invoices per month. Considering the huge volume, an error is very likely to occur. This is even more the case for independent restaurants, which usually have a single manager for all dining and indoor duties. The consequences of a single accounting error on the part of a restaurant can snowball into late fees, accumulated debts and even damage to relationships with suppliers. Automation takes these disastrous possibilities off the table.
Automating payroll and expenses saves time and money. Say goodbye to tedious manual calculations, data transfers, paychecks, book balancing, and more. Automating operations in the background will instantly save restaurateurs valuable time and money. Software that keeps a digital record of your expenses, stores and manages bills, and issues payments can cost a few hundred dollars a month. Compare that value to spending several thousand a month on full-time bookkeeping or paying your staff their hourly wages to write checks.
Automation allows staff to be more agile, continuously fine-tune operations, and plan for the future. Unequal access to analytics is one of the main reasons why large restaurant chains have enjoyed higher margins than independent restaurants. Large chains can allow teams to analyze and analyze data related to historical spending habits, unlike independent restaurants. In-house software can also help close this gap and provide all restaurants with the information they need to continuously refine and streamline their operations by providing up-to-date data at a lower cost. Tracking historical food prices and spending patterns gives restaurants the agility to navigate today’s supplier market plagued by inflation and scarcity. This helps reduce the number of last-minute crises, such as shortages of key products and supplies needed for popular menu items, that take staff away from their daily duties. And it allows staff to make small-scale adjustments that expand margins, both in the short term and over time.
Although staff shortages create headaches for restaurants in the short term, this moment presents a unique opportunity for independent restaurateurs. By embracing automation, restaurants can not only solve staffing challenges, but also expand margins and dramatically improve overall operations.