As the immediate effects of COVID-19 wane and leisure activities return to pre-pandemic levels, consumers are beginning to increase spending on luxuries such as dining out. However, the fragile hospitality industry is still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, with the situation being compounded by the departure of industry employees, rising inflation and rising cost of ingredients and ingredients. wages. A cocktail that experts call the Great Resignation.
The State of the Restaurant Industry Report (2022), conducted by the National Restaurant Association, found that 78% of restaurant owners do not have enough employees to meet customer demand. catering and accommodation with more than one million unfilled jobs. According to the research, 70% of restaurants feel they are short of essential staff, and with 3 in 4 employees planning to leave their jobs next year, the situation shows no signs of improving. High staff turnover rates are quickly becoming the Achilles heel of the hospitality industry. Half of operators in the full service, quick service and quick occasional segments expect recruiting and retaining employees to be their biggest challenge this year.
75% of understaffed restaurant operators said their establishment fell more than 10% below needed staffing levels, preventing them from deploying new digital solutions and improving the experience for employers and customers .
Put the physical point of sale in the past
Traditional point-of-service (POS) terminals tie employees to the physical spaces of a quick-service restaurant, leaving the terminals with long queues of impatient customers during peak hours. Mobile point-of-service (mPOS) devices are bringing order and payment processes into the 21st century, allowing employees to perform financial transactions in a versatile way. By speeding up the payment process, the service becomes more adaptable and the customer experience is significantly improved. It makes sense to use devices that bring greater efficiency to businesses, helping to drive growth.
More robust outlets are also driven by continued customer demand for omnichannel ordering. Eight in ten restaurateurs say using service-based technology provides a competitive advantage, with 38% of restaurant chefs in the quick service industry planning to invest more in customer-facing and service-based technology. It’s no surprise since 23% of consumers say they are open to new technologies that improve customer service, and 19% welcome digital solutions that make it easier to order and pay. Fast services of all sizes increase investments in online ordering and apps, reservations, mobile payment and delivery management to win new customers and build loyalty.
Creating a seamless ordering experience across all of these touchpoints is key to keeping customers engaged and improving their interaction with the brand. It’s also important to note that employees are an extension of the brand, so in-store ordering and digital ordering experiences should complement each other. Aligning these interaction channels will support employees in their delivery of customer service and support, streamlining the customer experience and improving staff confidence in their abilities.
The drive-thru of the Great Resignation unscathed
Drive-thru was nothing new when COVID-19 hit, but the pandemic has only proven its usefulness and popularity as customers opted for experiences that minimize physical contact. However, when employees juggle customers both onsite and offsite, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain a fast and smooth drive-thru. But fear not: there are simple solutions that can improve the quality of your drive-thru and make life easier for your employees. The margin for human error between front and back of house operations has been minimized, as orders are automatically pushed to the kitchen, through the use of KDS and POS. This has greatly helped the small teams to carry out daily operations.
To better support staff, quick service operators further digitized and automated the kitchen during the pandemic. Among foodservice industry leaders, 78% say these solutions will help manage current labor shortages. While digitizing backroom operations has improved productivity, when it comes to customer-facing service, 68% of consumers still prefer traditional service when dining, and 32% would choose a section where they order and pay using a tablet or smartphone application. . The importance of finding the right balance between technology and traditional service is therefore crucial for customer satisfaction. Having the right team is paramount to delighting customers. Rapid services must therefore continue to integrate digital solutions that help employees navigate a rapidly changing environment and provide good customer service.
Employee satisfaction: the key to a superior customer experience
The importance of good training to improving the employee experience is unparalleled. Ensuring staff are continuously supported in the workplace not only improves efficiency but also improves employee retention. Research has found that 70% of restaurant workers feel they don’t get enough hands-on training from managers, with 62% saying lack of training was the main reason for leaving. But happiness and fulfillment at work goes beyond training opportunities: more than half of restaurant workers say a promotion would increase their happiness at work. Staff also expect bonuses paid as recognition for their hard work. These changes in employee expectations are causing restaurateurs to reassess benefits. About 75% of restaurateurs plan to invest more resources in recruiting and retaining employees, with most expecting labor issues to continue into 2022.
Quick service restaurants can expand their teams by showing employees they are valued. Good compensation, along with career progression opportunities and team building activities should be a top priority for operators as they embark on their search for new talent. Chick-fil-A is an example of a brand that has successfully improved the customer experience by focusing on employee satisfaction. If you have visited any of their restaurants recently, you will have noticed that their employees are happy. Indeed, their staff receive extensive training on how to use the chain’s internal systems and ongoing support as the business evolves.
In a post-pandemic world, customer expectations for seamless, safe, and fast service experiences are extremely high. Forward-thinking restaurants will recognize that this positive experience will grow by offering the same quality of experience to all links in the transaction chain. Integrating the right digital solutions is key to helping small teams delight customers. Good training and good collaboration are also important to improve employee satisfaction and retain talent. By striking the right balance between digital and traditional service, fast services and their teams will thrive.
Matt Pacyga is the Director of Product Management at Bottle Rocket. Matt is a digital product specialist with deep experience in the intersectionality between quick service/restaurant and retail technology. He has had the honor of working with brands such as Dairy Queen, Jamba Juice and McAlisters, to name a few. Matt bridges the gap between business, technology and product ensuring customer expectations are met and businesses grow. He thinks it’s critical to align brands’ omnichannel strategy with their retail technology strategy. Connected customer experiences thrive when brands can seamlessly connect multiple systems to exceed customer expectations. In his spare time, Matt mentors food tech startups through the TechStars Farm to Fork program.