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Leveraging Kiosks: A Tech-Savvy Solution for Restaurants Facing Labor Shortages

By Minal Tayal 31st January 2024

The restaurant industry has been hit hard by labor shortages in recent years. This shortage is due to a number of factors, including low wages, high turnover rates, and lack of qualified workers. This has left restaurants struggling to keep up with demand, with longer wait times, reduced hours, and even closures becoming increasingly common. Restaurant Kiosks have redefined the order-taking process, allowing customers to browse menus, customize orders, and make payments without a cashier, reducing the immediate need for front-of-house staff.

The Severity of the Shortage:

  • Numbers speak volumes: As of October 2023, the National Restaurant Association reported 722,900 unfilled front-of-house positions and 426,900 unfilled back-of-house positions. That’s a total of 1.15 million empty seats waiting to be filled!
  • Impact on operations: A staggering 62% of restaurant operators report struggling to meet customer demand due to understaffing, and 80% find it difficult to fill open positions.
  • Consequence chain reaction: Labor shortages lead to reduced hours, limited menus, and increased prices, impacting both customer experience and restaurant profitability.

The labor shortage is having a significant impact on restaurant businesses:

  • Lost Revenue: Reduced capacity and operational slowdowns lead to lost revenue, putting a strain on already tight margins.
  • Customer Dissatisfaction: Long waits and frustrated staff can lead to poor customer experiences, damaging brand reputation and loyalty.
  • Increased Costs: To attract and retain staff, restaurants may be forced to raise wages and offer benefits, impacting profitability.
labour crisis

One way that restaurants are coping with labor shortages is by leveraging kiosks. Kiosks are self-service ordering and payment systems that allow customers to place their orders and pay for their meals without having to interact with a human employee. While kiosks have been around for some time, their popularity has surged in recent years as restaurants look for ways to streamline operations and reduce labor costs.

Kiosks: A Tech-Savvy Solution?

In this tight labor market, restaurant technology is emerging as a potential savior. Enter kiosks: self-service ordering systems that can streamline operations and alleviate the burden on staff.

Women ordering from restaurant kiosk

Must Read: How self-order kiosks will help food & beverage industry in 2024

Benefits of using kiosks in the restaurant industry

There are a number of benefits to using kiosks in the restaurant industry. These benefits include:

  • Reduced labor costs: Kiosks can help to reduce labor costs by eliminating the need for cashiers and servers.
  • Increased order accuracy: Kiosks can help to improve order accuracy by taking orders directly from customers.
  • Faster service: Kiosks can help to speed up service by allowing customers to place their orders and pay for their meals without having to wait in line.
  • Increased order size: Studies have shown that customers tend to order more food when they use kiosks. This is because kiosks make it easy for customers to add items to their orders without having to feel like they are bothering a server.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: Kiosks can improve customer satisfaction by providing a more convenient and efficient dining experience.

Statistics and facts about kiosks in the restaurant industry

  • The use of kiosks in the restaurant industry is growing rapidly. According to a report by QSR Magazine, the number of restaurants using kiosks is expected to grow from 20% in 2019 to 40% in 2024.
  • A study by NCR found that customers who use kiosks spend 20% more than customers who order from a cashier.
  • A study by Oracle found that 70% of customers would like to see more restaurants using kiosks.
Kiosk screen used in restaurants

Challenges of using kiosks in the restaurant industry

While there are many benefits to using kiosks, there are also some challenges. These challenges include:

  • High upfront cost: Kiosks can be expensive to purchase and install.
  • Technical problems: Kiosks can sometimes experience technical problems, which can frustrate customers.
  • Job displacement: Kiosks can lead to job displacement in the restaurant industry.

Of course, kiosks are not a silver bullet for the restaurant industry’s labor problems. They can be expensive to implement, and they may not be a good fit for all restaurants, particularly those with a focus on table service and personalized customer interaction. Additionally, some customers may still prefer to interact with a server.

Overall, however, kiosks offer a promising solution to the labor shortage challenge facing the restaurant industry. They can help to streamline operations, improve efficiency, and boost customer satisfaction. As the technology continues to develop and become more affordable, we can expect to see kiosks become even more common in restaurants in the years to come.

Here are some additional tips for restaurants that are considering using kiosks:

  • Start with a pilot program. Don’t roll out kiosks to your entire restaurant at once. Start with a pilot program in a limited area to see how customers respond.
  • Make sure your kiosks are easy to use. Your kiosks should be user-friendly and intuitive, even for customers who are not tech-savvy.
  • Train your employees on how to use the kiosks. Your employees should be able to help customers who are having trouble using the kiosks.
  • Promote your kiosks. Let your customers know that you have kiosks and how they can use them.

By following these tips, restaurants can leverage kiosks to improve their operations and cope with labor shortages.

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