America’s labor force endured significant disruption over the past few years, with 47 million workers quitting their jobs last year alone. All industries were impacted - most notably, the food service and hospitality industry - as people began to spend more time indoors and cut back on leisurely spending due to economic turmoil.
Although this tumultuous period created numerous problems, it was also an era of accelerated digital transformation, creating solutions to alleviate these pandemic-related burdens. The restaurant industry is now experiencing a shift in consumer behavior, as businesses aren’t solely relying on take out and delivery to stay afloat. However, foot traffic is increasing while limited staff prevails. The time is now for food service executives to leverage this propelled digitization. Here are four ways that automation can help restaurant operators achieve optimal business outcomes.
The average restaurant turnover rate is 23%, while family style restaurants experience turnover rates of up to 32%. Meanwhile, new employee training costs $4,700 per person on average. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that 51% of restaurateurs ranked hiring staff as their business’s top challenge, followed by ranked concerns in training and retaining staff. Constant fluctuation within the industry has been a pain point for decades, especially within the last few years, and has caused significant financial impact on restaurant businesses. However, investing in automation is a one-time, upfront cost with exponential returns on investment, consistently increasing your bottom line.
Consistent and Efficient
People make mistakes, right? We’re only human. But with the implementation of automation into the restaurant business - for instance, in a beverage program - it eliminates the tendency for employees to over-or-under pour their drinks for customers, ultimately increasing efficiency, consistency and timeliness with each order. Additionally, it avoids the financial impact of absenteeism, as unscheduled absences cost US employers at least $3,600 per year per hourly employee. By leveraging technology in the foodservice industry, restaurant operators can comfortably and confidently know that they’re delivering timely and consistently impressive dining experiences to all their customers.
Recruitment and Retention
The restaurant industry is people-centric. Automation is not here to replace humans, but rather, enhance and support their efforts. One way in doing so is by automating repetitive manual tasks to increase employee productivity, engagement and satisfaction, as well as their likelihood in sticking with their current employer. Retaining employees, which is already a struggle for the restaurant industry, has become even more difficult over the past couple of years. However, in eliminating some of the more tedious and mundane daily functions, employees will be happier with their day-to-day activities and feel greater fulfillment while at work.
Menu innovation and Diversification
Automation enables a customizable crafted menu that adds to your food and beverage sales without diminishing pre-existing menu offerings. Through these expanded options, restaurant businesses can reach new segments, expand their customer base, retain existing customers by improving the dining experience and overall boosting sales. Additionally, offering premium craft beverages, for example, is still relatively uncommon in the restaurant industry, giving restaurant operators who decide to implement a competitive differentiator among those in the space.
The benefits of automation in the restaurant industry are threefold: it enhances the individual employee’s workday, boosts the customer experience and drives revenue. The past few years have demonstrated that the only constant is change, but that doesn’t mean that industries are forced to take a reactive instead of proactive approach. Restaurant operators have the necessary tools at hand to not only cope with industry-related challenges, but to thrive in their respected business. It’s just a matter of taking the leap.
About Sean Hsu:
Sean Hsu brings more than twelve years in robotic engineering, industrial engineering and process efficiency to Botrista Technology, Inc. A serial entrepreneur, Hsu owns dozens of technology and invention patents. Prior to co-founding Botrista, Hsu spent four years with Tesla where he specialized in robotics and was responsible for developing automation manufacturing lines at multiple factories including the liquid dispensing process. Hsu was recognized for his technology leadership with the prestigious MIT Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award, the Red Dot Design Award, as well as more than twenty-five other product innovation honors. Hsu received his Masters of Engineering of Manufacturing from the University of Michigan and is a graduate of the Stanford University School of Business.