Hiring and retaining staff is one of the greatest challenges food businesses face. Becoming short-staffed can often be to no fault of the business, so how can you reduce the effects of what seems to be an inevitable, industry-wide challenge?
Let’s look at four ways any business serving food can adopt technology to rapidly relieve the effects of being short on staff.
Digital menus for staff or customers
Digital menus are easy to access, simple to use and directly linked to the kitchen. They save time, reduce errors and provide more information than a paper menu ever would.
Digital menus for staff use
One of the main concerns about digital menus, especially in fine-dining establishments, is the lack of human service. Not only do many customers expect a certain standard of service, but the vital interaction also adds to the experience and provides the opportunity to upsell.
So what are the benefits of front-of-house using a digital menu?
Ordering on a digital menu is the tap of a screen, and so is removing items from the recipe for allergy and nutritional reasons. Far quicker than writing by hand and then verbally relaying the information to kitchen staff.
Less time between orders
The larger the restaurant, the more time is saved, but regardless of floor space, staff never return to the kitchen to submit an order. As the order is automatically sent to the kitchen, waiting staff can move from table to table, allowing team members to take more orders in less time.
Digital menus contain a wealth of information, such as product descriptions, nutritional values, ingredients and allergens. Not only will the waiting staff seem more knowledgeable to the customer and reduce errors, but they won't have to return to the kitchen or find another team member to help answer the question.
Digital menus for customer use
Allowing customers to order, even pay digitally, is one of the greatest ways to support staff shortages. It doesn't have to be the only method; in the event a customer doesn't have a phone, have a small supply of paper menus.
So what are the benefits of customers using a digital menu?
View menu before arrival
Whilst this can be done without digital technology, it is unlikely to be live information. When using a digital menu linked to the ingredients and recipe database, any change to the ingredients regarding nutrition on allergens will instantly change on the digital menu. Adding and removing items as supply chain issues and stock levels change is also instant, keeping the menu as up-to-date as possible.
Waiting staff can concentrate on the experience
Just because customers can order themselves doesn't mean there's no need for front-of-house staff; it just means their job changes. Instead of taking orders, they can take the time to communicate more personally and understand customer tastes and preferences, so they can make suggestions and attempt to upsell.
Use filters to choose a dish
Digital menus not only provide essential nutrition and allergy information to the customer, but they can also use filters to select the ingredients they don't want and choose mandatory nutritional values to highlight the recipes that aren't suitable.
Harness the power of pre-ordering
In busy periods especially, pre-ordering will save time and allow precision planning for staff requirements and purchasing. By using API connections, businesses can integrate their ordering system with meal planning, inventory and purchasing systems to generate recipe demand.
So what are the benefits of pre-order processes?
Purchasing to pre-order
Purchasing ingredients during event bookings or busy periods is complicated. Not having enough stock and customers can't order their first choice, and having too much creates food waste.
Pre-order functionality allows chefs and purchasing to view definitive requirements and saves time that would have been spent estimating required quantities.
Understanding the number of covers in an evening allows businesses to plan staff requirements accurately. When understaffed, the more time to find temporary staff or allow the rearranging of commitments, the better.
Saves on the night ordering
When struggling with staff shortages, not needing to visit each customer to receive an order will help the remaining staff provide an unaltered level of service. The kitchen can also plan when to prepare the dishes for service.
Business-wide customer service training
Every department can access the same information using food business management software. Training office and sales staff and allowing access to back-of-house databases will enable them to deal with customer queries immediately. So when staff are off ill, on annual leave or have left the business, their knowledge is still available in a system for all to access.
Automate inventory & ordering
Chefs can spend hours ordering food, especially if they need to get a stock count, which, if short-staffed, may have to be done themselves.
So what are the benefits of order automation?
Integrated supplier database
Integrating your inventory and ordering systems with a supplier database allows you to seamlessly generate orders manually or set up order criteria using stock and pre-order information. Additionally, any price, nutrition or allergy information regarding the ingredients or products purchased is synced so that your system has accurate information and prevents staff members from researching and updating menu items manually to keep customers safe and prevent profit margin reductions.
Minimum stock level quantities
Popular ingredients and products are often kept in stock, especially if they have a durable shelf life. Setting minimum stock levels in an inventory system to trigger the purchasing database into generating a new order eliminates the time wasted monitoring and buying standard stock items.
Menu performance statistics
Every chef wants to reduce the food cost percentage. A lot of time can be spent deciding on the amount of stock required, especially as seasons and demands change. With historical sales data, chefs can easily view previous periods to make an informed estimate on purchase quantities. Increasing purchasing accuracy, reducing food waste and saving calculation time.
How can Kafoolde help?
We help food businesses overcome challenges by providing a complete suite of software features to create organisation, automate tasks and communicate with customers.
We know time can be short and additional support may be needed immediately, so we provide first-class support to get you set up and trained as quickly as possible.