Short Staffed No More: How Technology Can Lend a Hand


Daily headlines are constantly covering the ongoing labor shortages. The restaurant industry is the main subject of this widespread situation. The end of summer is also approaching, marking the time where many seasonal employees head back to school and take on other jobs.

Daily headlines are constantly covering the ongoing labor shortages. In some areas, the issue is literally in your face, as you encounter ‘Help Wanted’ signs at nearly every business. The restaurant industry feels this shortfall especially hard. Employment at eating and drinking establishments is 12% short of pre-pandemic levels, according to the National Restaurant Association. It is reported that some restaurant employees are even quitting during their shifts. 

The end of summer is also approaching, marking the time when many seasonal employees head back to school or take on other jobs. Competing for a limited supply of workers, restaurant owners face options that are equally unappealing, such as increasing wages, reducing hours, and cutting back menu options. 

Restaurateurs are in the midst of difficult times with staffing, but turning to technology can ease the employee shortfall, even becoming a permanent solution. Implementing technology is not about replacing existing workers, but rather, it is about making quick service restaurant jobs easier on existing workers. They will have the bandwidth to provide excellent customer service at those points where people are needed. 


Below are 4 restaurant technologies that are keeping restaurants afloat...

  1. Self-order saves the day

The last thing guests and employees want to see is a long line ahead. Self-order kiosks revolutionize the way guests order and employees prioritize tasks. Rather than waiting to take orders and listen carefully for modifications, staff can focus on fulfilling the accurate and customized orders that are submitted via a self-order kiosk. This essentially fills in for the missing staff member that would be controlling the repetitive transactions.

Self-order kiosks are simple to kickstart at your restaurant and (with a well-designed user experience) even simpler for guests to use. In just a few steps with designing and onboarding menu items, your kiosks are up and running. Kiosks provide answers to the questions that guests would normally ask a human order-taker, so they save time for both parties. Adding just one kiosk to your restaurant can make a world of difference for your staff (although we recommend two or more since our own research shows that a pair of kiosks outperforms a single kiosk by a factor of 3!). 

  1. The touchscreen drive-thru solution

The all-too-familiar experience of conversing through crackly speakers and answering (or asking) dozens of questions simply doesn’t have to be. The touchscreen drive-thru gives the guest all of the information they need and the ability to customize their order much more quickly and accurately than with traditional drive-thru ordering. Your crews will thank you, since they will deal with fewer impatient guests, and can divide and conquer to fill guest orders. Kiosks also show crew members that owners care, since restaurant employees report that order taking is one of the most stressful and least fulfilling aspects of the job. 

A touchscreen drive-thru is similar to a self-order kiosk with the added bonus that guests do not have to even leave their vehicles to place a custom order. If guests have any questions, they can simply tap the call icon to speak with a staff member. Guests will also feel more comfortable ordering the items that they really want, avoiding embarrassment over the super-size order of fries. 

  1. Control the chaos with digital menu boards

We have all visited a restaurant with dim static menu boards. This is where digital menu boards and order status monitors come in. Digital menu boards are exactly what you would expect them to be: bright, vibrant, and engaging, clearly displaying menu items and pricing. These boards draw the eyes of guests and hold their attention longer. They also are like a billboard for  your branding. When you are faced with a busy lunch rush and a light staff, the digital menu boards come in handy since they convey the menu so clearly and update instantly should you need to ‘86’ an item. You can also use DMBs to upsell or even guide guests to select items that offer higher margin or are faster to make.

  1. Resolve the mystery with order status monitors

“Where is my order?” This is the million dollar question that is asked especially during the busiest of times. Order status monitors resolve the mystery and reduce stress for crew and guests alike, by showing status, from in progress to order ready. These monitors also relieve employees from having to shout out order names or numbers into a crowd. 

When you have a long line and only a few employees, the status monitors can keep track of which orders are in progress and which are ready for pickup. This helps the staff continue to fulfill orders, while guests feel connected and in-the-know. This brings a calming effect since guests can see the entire process from start to finish. That way if things are delayed, they are already aware. 


Where do we start?


You might find yourself asking this question and it is a good one! We have experts here at NEXTEP and we are ready to assist you with a smooth transition to technologies that can ease your labor shortage, boost sales, and help give everyone (guests and employees) a better overall experience. Whether you choose one or several technologies, all are interconnected and easily updated through your customized myNEXTEP dashboard. 


Ready to help your restaurant?