Last year, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants underwent unwanted but necessary changes. As a precaution, the dining rooms were closed and at one point even eating outdoors was prohibited in some areas.
Fast forward a year later and the economy is recovering, albeit at a slow pace. However, in the process of resuming and continuing catering operations, operators must take steps to reduce the risk of infection among employees and customers and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A growing number of restaurants are adopting technology to manage their operations and prepare for the challenges of the ânew normalâ. Innovation is needed in several areas, including:
- Staff management
- Kitchen operations
- Dining room procedures
- Processing of reservations
- Food safety and cleanliness of the restaurant
According to Mid-Year Update on the State of the Restaurant Industry 2021, more than 3 in 4 restaurateurs have difficulty in recruiting and retaining loyalty, despite an increase in employment.
Using technology to streamline workflows is a solution to this problem. Employees can better understand their tasks and responsibilities through structured restoration operations. In addition, by eliminating unnecessary tasks, staff can focus more on the quality of their work.
The technology also makes it possible to bridge the communication between restaurant management and staff. Having a retail management tool with a mobile app, for example, reduces the need for servers to roam when communicating with each other. Managers can also assign tasks faster through the system, allowing frontline staff to take action immediately.
Organizing and preparing meals isn’t easy – there’s a lot of data and tracking information needed to make sure the right dish is being served to the right person. Likewise, visitors to restaurants expect their food to be of a consistent quality with every visit.
To respond to these situations, restaurants must have a digital checklist or recipe management software tool. Digital checklists improve efficiency and accuracy, eliminating confusion among chefs, kitchen assistants and waiters. Recipe management software, on the other hand, standardizes menu items and monitors dish costs. These two technological advances help ensure excellent customer service and reduce food waste.
When it comes to food waste, manual inventory tracking is usually one of the main culprits. Wrong data can lead to shortage or excess. The shortage of inventory limits the income potential of the restaurant and excess inventory or inventory is wasted. Different inventory platforms exist to prevent this, and some have forecasting mechanisms while others are simpler, providing timely alerts when stocks are low.
Dining room procedures
Fast service and food safety have always been a high priority for diners, but since the COVID-19 crisis these factors have become even more important.
Dining room operations are easier to streamline than kitchen operations, but there is a need to upgrade existing procedures to accommodate customers.
The use of technology is necessary to better serve diners, give them peace of mind and allow them to enjoy their meals.
Restaurants should consider electronic menus to prevent the spread of viruses. Plus, operators can use a digital system to take orders instead of writing them. Not only is it more hygienic, it also significantly increases the quality and speed of service.
To end the dining experience on a happy (and safe) note, customers need to be able to make payments using their smartphones or other contactless payment methods, such as tap-and-pay cards. This is a critical factor to keep in mind since 34 percent of restaurant customers say that contactless / mobile payment is extremely important to them these days.
Processing of reservations
Tracking reservations has always proven to be a difficult task for restaurateurs. However, now that the COVID-19 protocols are in place, it has become even more difficult. Operators must avoid overbooking to meet health regulations and avoid underbooking to meet their profit targets. Relying on reservation technology can help organize the process. In addition, advanced systems allow restaurants to take vital information about customers, such as their phone numbers, birthdays, etc., which can be used for marketing purposes.
Another benefit of restaurant technology is sending reservation updates, so restaurants can maximize their availability despite maintaining an appropriate distance and operating with limited capacity.
Food safety and restaurant cleanliness
The restaurants are very demanding in terms of cleanliness, from the front of the house to the back of the house. The pandemic has only amplified this behavior. Many people handle food before it is given to customers. Therefore, the first step is to educate all staff about food safety and restaurant cleanliness, not just the cleaning staff.
Through a retail management solution, employee surveys can be generated based on current restaurant protocols. These surveys can be used to assess employees’ knowledge of existing procedures.
Restaurant managers can observe employee performance and provide positive or negative feedback. Additionally, they can also set automated task distribution and task reminders to make sure everyone contributes to food safety and restaurant cleanliness.
Finally, creating digital checklists for cleaning tools and staff will streamline the process, because when it comes to food safety and restaurant cleanliness, training doesn’t have to be a one-time affair. Everyone should follow the proper procedure every day, not just during workouts.
Restaurateurs who have not yet integrated technology into different aspects of their operations should perform an audit.
Operational auditing makes it easier to find bottlenecks in areas such as personnel management, kitchen operations, dining room procedures, reservation processing, food safety and security. cleanliness of the restaurant. This will give operators an idea of ââhow far behind they are and what technology they need.
In addition, audits provide reliable, real-time analysis. The information generated goes beyond verifying compliance with procedures by all employees.
Equally important is analyzing the results of inspections, drawing conclusions about efficient and inefficient processes and finding ways to improve those processes.
Currently, the spread of Delta variants threatens to reduce restaurant visits again. As a result, restaurateurs need agile solutions to keep customers safe without compromising efficiency and dealing with more permanent changes in the industry.