When choosing to dine at a quick-service restaurant, customers expect speed, quality, and accuracy. They anticipate fast drive-thru lines, friendly employees, and quality food across any location and on a consistent basis. But when these factors don’t align, customer satisfaction quickly dwindles.

If a customer doesn’t receive an order in a timely manner, they may think twice before they visit the restaurant again; after all, they can choose from plenty of other options. 

When it comes to good service, employees are key.

There’s a problem, though: the labor shortage. 62 percent of restaurant operators say their restaurant does not have enough employees to support customer demand. The food industry is facing the reality of unfilled positions, directly affecting the customer experience. Now, customers may experience longer lines, and once they do get their food, they are met with dirty tables. This challenge makes it even more critical for quick-serves to empower existing employees to do their jobs well.

Even though restaurant operators hire more people, they also lose more than the national average. The Accommodation and Food Services industry has had the highest quit rate since July 2021, consistently above 4.9 percent, higher than the national average. The high turnover rate creates unpredictable working conditions. As a result, quick-service restaurant operators are looking for help when it comes to training employees faster and keeping them longer—and that’s where effective communication and task management can help.

When quick-service restaurants streamline their communication and make expectations clear to employees, they successfully improve employee retention and satisfaction. Like a domino effect, this dramatically improves the customer experience as a result. Three ways for quick-serves to ensure improved CX include ensuring employees have proper training, prioritizing speed of service and maintaining order accuracy.

Ensure employees are trained properly 

It is essential for managers to ensure new and existing employees are onboarded sufficiently and aware of all processes. Streamlined task management provides clarity and confidence for employees that they have all the resources they could need. Training documents are now at the tips of employees’ fingers, there to answer questions especially in the absence of management, who may not be present to answer questions themselves due to the already limited staff.  

Proper training is essential for all areas of the quick-service restaurant. Back of house and front of house positions all need to be set up for success, as proper onboarding is required for everything from cleaning protocols, food preparation, customer service, seating rotations, taking orders and more. 

When both employee groups of quick-service restaurants are in the loop and properly onboarded, brands can better pull off the difficult task of delivering quality food quickly, ensuring a positive customer experience. 

Keep “fast food” fast

Many customers choose to dine at a quick-serve because they want a quick and convenient option, and having to wait a long time for an order defeats the purpose of fast food.

Over 20 percent of restaurant customers become annoyed after waiting two minutes to order at the drive-thru window, and if the wait is five minutes, that increases to up to 70 percent of customers. Think about it: some of the most common quick-service experiences include stopping in on a lunch break or on the way to an important obligation. In that situation, all a customer really hopes for is a meal that fits their schedule. If a restaurant is not able to meet that one expectation, it is, in essence, dooming itself and losing repeat business.

Streamlining task management allows limited staff to quickly communicate with one another and prioritize waiting customers. That technology simplifies to-do lists and shortens the overall time it takes for a customer to receive their order.

Maintain order accuracy

There’s nothing worse than realizing an order is wrong, especially when considering how complicated ordering has become. If a customer finds themself craving a hamburger, they now have an abundance of ordering options to choose from. That customer can call the quick-service restaurant and place an order, order through a third-party app, order online directly with the quick-serve, order curbside and more. As options continue to grow, restaurants must ensure that all orders are completed accurately, regardless of how that order is placed. 

Streamlining task management makes it easier for limited staff to double-check orders and order methods and ensure the order goes to the right individual. 

A winning recipe

Labor shortages in the quick-service industry are no easy feat to solve. There’s never a guarantee that it will right itself, especially when employee turnover has always been a semi-issue in the industry. This means that operators should use what they can to make every second, and every valuable employee, count.

When restaurants successfully ensure proper employee training, quick service, and order accuracy, they can then prioritize friendly service and create an all-around positive experience that exceeds customer expectations. Then, quick-service restaurants have a winning recipe. 

Gary Stonell, SVP of Sales and Operations, Opterus, has 20 years of sales management and business development experience in CPG and SaaS. Beginning his career in CPG, he worked for Kraft Foods, Philips Electronics, then SunRype Products fostering partnerships with retailers and managing various aspects of the sales and marketing processes. More recently at Sysomos/Meltwater, a SaaS based Social Media content management platform, Gary led the Enterprise sales team responsible for managing existing clients and new logo acquisition. The key to his success has been a meaningful focus on building business relationships with collaborative solution-based partnerships.

Customer Experience, Employee Management, Fast Food, Outside Insights, Restaurant Operations, Story, Technology