One of the biggest struggles facing restaurateurs right now is running a short-staffed restaurant. Many restaurants don’t have enough people to serve customers and quickly process orders. Some restaurants don’t even have enough staff to keep their doors open. Let’s look at what short-staffed restaurants can do to continue to run their businesses with less people.
The Problems for Short-Staffed Restaurants
According to the 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report, 70% of operators do not have enough employees to support customer demand. Half of restaurant operators believe recruiting and retaining employees will be their top challenge for 2022.
Staffing problems affect restaurants in multiple ways.
Some can’t operate at full capacity because they don’t have enough waitstaff or kitchen help to offer reasonable service to customers. Existing employees have to work harder (doing more with less help) which leads to burnout and high turnover rates. Customers then get frustrated by long wait times or poor service and are less likely to return.
Fortunately, you can take steps to speed up service and improve your restaurant experience – even if you are short-staffed.
5 Ways to Speed Up Service at a Short-Staffed Restaurant
Here are five technology-based solutions to speed up your short-staffed restaurant.
1. Set up self-ordering kiosks.
One of the easiest ways for quick-service restaurants (QSRs) to manage staffing shortages is to invest in self-ordering kiosks. Kiosks can be found in a variety of major chains, like Panera, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell just to name a few. Small to midsize restaurants have also started using this technology as investment costs decrease and self-ordering kiosks become more accessible.
With self-ordering kiosks, guests place their own orders and your staff can focus on expediting food and keeping your restaurant clean and running smoothly. You can also opt to have one employee available to help guests place their orders, which will elevate the overall customer experience.
The best part about self-ordering is that you don’t have to invest in expensive kiosk technology. At Lavu, we offer self-ordering kiosk software that can be used on an iPad for a low monthly fee.
2. Improve your POS system features.
You might not be able to solve your staffing problems right away, but you can improve your customer service by offering better restaurant point-of-sale system features. Consider working with your existing team members to learn what restaurant POS features need improvement and how their workflows could benefit from additional tools.
Key areas to consider include:
- Front of house
- Back of house
- Kitchen efficiency
- Inventory management
- Customer loyalty
Lavu offers an all-in-one restaurant management platform with more than 200 features from which to customize the perfect POS system to fit your needs. Learn more about the various options available to your employees and which ones can best improve the customer experience.
3. Use tableside payment processing.
Another option to help speed up your short-staffed restaurant is to update your payment processing. Instead of processing payments in the back of the house, more restaurants are speeding up their processes with tableside payment processing technology.
Rapid payment processing can save time in many ways. Your waitstaff won’t have to run to and from server stations because they will have all of the information they need on their tablets. This means customers pay faster and are able to leave sooner, increasing your table turnover rate.
Your servers also don’t have to worry about getting stopped by other tables when processing checks, slowing down the overall experience.
4. Instantly send orders to the kitchen.
When you’re short-staffed, you want to help your team be as efficient as possible. You want to cut out all of the wasted time they spend doing things that can be automated through technology. You also want to get your orders in as fast as possible so that your kitchen team can get started as soon as an order is placed. You can do both of these things with tableside ordering and a kitchen display system.
With a kitchen display system, you can immediately send orders taken through a tableside tablet directly to the kitchen. This process means servers don’t have to spend time at a POS station or walk to the kitchen to hand slips of paper to your kitchen staff.
Even better, if a server needs items from two stations — say drinks from the bar and an appetizer from the kitchen — the system can send the order to both places in one quick process.
5. Better organize your staff scheduling.
Operating a short-staffed restaurant means you and your employees will need to be flexible with scheduling. Your team members may need to work a variety of shifts and you may need to move people around when someone calls out. Lavu POS allows for more efficient scheduling. A few key features include:
- Clock-in and clock-out tools
- Staff trading options
- Hour limits for employees
- Digital schedule change alerts
- Time off request tools
With these options, you can decrease your chances of burning out your team because you can see the total number of hours your employees work. You can also prevent scheduling the same employee on back-to-back shifts.
Get the Right Technology to Support a Short-Staffed Restaurant
Staffing is going to be a challenge through 2022 and beyond. One way to improve the customer experience and prevent employee burnout is to update your operations. Start by evaluating the technology in your restaurant to see how you can speed up service. By upgrading your POS system or changing how customers order and pay, you can significantly streamline the process for your team.
To see what changes make sense for your operations, download our free POS Evaluation Worksheet. This can help you identify weaknesses in your current POS system along with potential solutions. When you are ready to upgrade your system, we are here to help.