Few industries change faster than food and beverage and keeping up with the latest technology and trainings are essential to keeping up with the times, optimizing efficiency, and ensuring great customer satisfaction.
Customers visit a quick-service establishment for a quick-service experience, and front-of-house staff must ensure customers get what they came for—a fast meal. When this service goes awry, guests have the ability to quickly share their immediate feedback with their social network, instantly impacting the restaurant’s reputation. This has increased pressure on fast-casual restaurateurs to take training very seriously. The average turnover rate at a fast-food restaurant is 150 percent according to a 2018 report by MIT Tech Review, with this employee turnover attributed to new technology increasing expectations of higher productivity, with no increase in pay.
So how can quick-serve restaurants ease the technology learning curve when their staff is coming and going like a revolving door? Here are three best practices to get restaurant operators started.
Leverage POS technology that doesn’t require a PhD to learn—One of the most-cited reasons for not being able to retain employees at quick-serve restaurants is their unwillingness to learn new technology, along with not understanding how to handle online ordering and delivery channel increases. Placing the burden on employees becoming technical experts isn’t going to make them stay. Self-ordering kiosks are taking off in the quick-serve industry, but employees shouldn’t be expected to become technical experts on managing them. Providing training on how to use POS kiosks for ordering so that employees can assist customers when they are stuck is paramount but having a strong POS system that won’t go down during the lunch rush is equally important and removes the pressure on employees to ensure systems are running. Operators should train on the basics of how to use the system versus how to reboot hardware several times per day.
Train staff on how to accept and prepare a mobile order—the ordering process used to involve a customer walking into a fast-food establishment and placing their order at the counter. While people still visit the inside of these restaurants, drive-through has become a faster alternative. Today, we have added a new channel that seems to be wreaking havoc on employees—online and mobile ordering from the likes of Grubhub and UberEats. Fast-food employees aren’t used to this new channel and how to handle the processing of these new order types. Setting up a separate area within the restaurant for these off-premise orders and having staff specifically trained on how to fulfill and clear them from the system will create more efficiency and enable this new channel to drive growth.
Lean on the cloud for assistance—Very few quick-serve restaurant managers sign up to become an IT expert. The good news is that today’s modern cloud-based systems require less technology savviness than their on-premises predecessors. Whereas managers once had to learn how to maintain an on-site computer server, cloud systems are managed centrally by experts. Keeping the POS and other systems running should be the supplier’s job, leaving managers and staff to focus their time on using the system to best serve the guests.
Today’s modern POS systems do much more than simply place orders, and they are relatively easy to use and manage. They manage inventory, employee schedules, menu changes and data that is collected can be used to run detailed analytics on business performance. It’s a wise investment to train staff upfront on various aspects of the system. It not only helps you run the business more efficiently, but will give employees a sense of ownership and pride in their work. If the MIT Tech Review’s study is accurate and we continue to see a dip in employees joining the fast-food industry, it will become even more important than ever for restaurant operators to give employees a sense of ownership in their business. Leveraging today’s modern systems is a great way to do that.
David Galante is a Senior Strategy Director in Oracle's Food and Beverage Global Business Unit. He and his team manage Oracle's MICROS Product solutions and integrations. This includes the Simphony family of solutions and complementary software including Reporting & Analytics, Fiscal reporting, and Inventory & Labor Management.