Cafe staff working

As we know, labour shortages are a huge issue in the hospitality industry at the moment. According to a Square report nearly 3 out of 4 restaurant businesses are dealing with shortages, with 22% saying the shortage is significant. As a result, we’re seeing businesses all over the world having to run extremely lean services, some offering reduced menus, others having to close on certain days or at certain times as they simply don’t have the staff to operate.  

It’s a tough time for many, so we thought we’d offer a few practical things you can implement that will help mitigate some of the challenges faced as a result of staff shortages.

Integrate technology to help streamline operations

Technology and digital solutions are becoming more commonplace in hospitality, but now it’s more pertinent than ever in a bid to help simplify and streamline operations, especially when it comes to in-store dining.

By looking to the likes of QR code-based table ordering for example, you can empower guests to place orders and pay through their smartphones instead of relying on front of house staff to take on all these transactional tasks. In doing so, you also get to free up the staff you do have and use them in more valuable ways. They can instead focus on areas that drive revenue, like enhancing the guest experience, running food quicker to help increase table turnover, and more.

The main things to think about is where in your operations you need more efficiency, where you are currently bottlenecked with laborious processes, or the areas of the business you can’t get staff for. Once you’ve pinpointed areas for improvement, then you can start looking at technology that can then help. With options like middleware software that bring all your aggregator orders straight into POS, eliminating the need for someone to manually enter them, there are many options to help you, not just now but also in the long-term.  

Offset against laborious ordering channels

Especially in the short-term as you look to weather the staff shortage storm, it may be worth looking at your ordering channels and seeing which ones are more laborious than others and then pushing guests to order through other channels. Naturally, these laborious channels might be where more front of house staff are needed, like in-store dining or quick service restaurants.

Leading on from the above point around integrating technology, if for example you can’t get the counter staff you need, or the wait staff, you could prioritise and promote your online ordering more. Or, you could implement something like Skip the Queue, whereby guests simply scan a QR code in-store on your signage, order, pay and collect their food to either take out or sit in. With no investment needed in hardware, it’s an easy, cost-effective way to implement a new channel while decreasing service costs through being able to operate with less front of house staff.

Dive into the data and action it appropriately

Data can play a huge role in your operations, giving you the insight you need to see what products are performing, in what combinations, at what times, and also across your channel mix too. So, delve into your actionable data to see where you can adjust operations.

Especially when kitchen staff are hard to come by, it might be pertinent to reevaluate your menu offering and make adjustments to suit. While perhaps not ideal, ensure you make those adjustments based on really informed information, and not just gut feelings or anecdotal evidence. For example, if you know what your most ordered and most valuable lunchtime items are at each location, you can slim down menus to just those. Not only does it mean you can likely cut down on the amount of inventory but also most customers will still be able to order what they want, meaning no diminished customer satisfaction.  

Prioritise the staff you do have

Lastly, staff shortages or not, it’s important to value the staff you do have on board. No doubt, it will be a stressful time for them too given there’s less of their peers around to help out and they’re the ones sticking by you. So, think about ways you can honor their commitment to your business - it’s not always about pay - and ways to make them valued. For some it could be commitment to their learning and development, their career pathway in the business, training opportunities, etc. For others it could be trying to be more flexible to accommodate other areas of their life. As well, making sure to say thank you, and appreciating their work day to day will always go down well.

Placing importance on efficiency

Now’s the time more than ever to hone in on your operations, especially in-store, and implement the digital-first solutions that allow you to increase efficiency and alleviate labour shortages.
If you would like to discuss how MOBI can help, then simply get in touch with the team today.

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