Quick-service brands need employees in a big way. These solutions are helping ease that pressure. 

There’s been a labor shortage in the quick-service industry for a long time now, but a confluence of pandemic-related events have made it as challenging as ever for brands to produce the safe and efficient customer experience they strive toward. That’s been especially exposed as diners return to restaurants, forcing brands to search high and low for employees that will help facilitate the guest experience.

The solution, many brands are finding, is to integrate technologies that help outsource labor previously done by employees, which in turn alleviates the pressure on employees and frees them up to focus on customer service. Investing in technologies that will support employees and reduce the need to take on additional responsibilities to make up for the shortage can help build trust with staff and reduce turnover stemming from increased workload stress. 

Operators are finding that implementing new technologies is improving their restaurants’ efficiencies, even in the face of the labor shortage. Here are three examples of devices that are helping take a load off of operators’ and employees’ shoulders. 

Self-Service Kiosks

Restaurants can implement kiosk systems to handle orders, which is the practical equivalent of adding an additional employee per kiosk considering the systems can take orders accurately and efficiently. In fact, kiosks save time in the ordering and payment process as it’s all completed in a single instance. The implementation of kiosks enables staff to focus on things like food preparation, table running, or cleaning the facilities. 

With safety in mind, Advantech’s self-service kiosks come equipped with eye-tracking technology that allows customers to place orders without ever touching a screen. They also have contactless payment options that help increase a consumer’s trust in a brand. The contactless kiosks are built to be intuitive and require zero explanation or instruction even if a customer has never encountered one. 

The use of kiosks can also learn the customer’s ordering habits either via a loyalty program or facial recognition technology, and then help build a customized experience tailored to the customer’s needs and desires. 

Line-Busting and Tableside Tablets

Line-busting tablets became a popular sight during the pandemic: employees walking down a line of cars in the drive-thru and taking orders. Inside the restaurant, waiters can easily use tablets to take orders at the table and send them to the kitchen instantaneously, and quickly process payments, reducing time needed to travel back and forth to a shared POS system. 

Advantech’s AIM-35 Tablet aims to address this issue and increase throughput while pleasing customers who expect a quick ordering process. The tablets come equipped with the capability to print receipts via Bluetooth, as well as a holster employees can wear around their waist so that they can easily multi-task. 

“We’re seeing that customers want to have the efficient experience the drive thru is known for, but inside of a store,” says Sarah Yang, product manager at Advantech. “This is a really efficient way for customers to order and for employees to take the orders and get tickets to the kitchen.” 

Kitchen Display Systems

When seeking to alleviate labor challenges, back-of-house efficiencies are just as important as the front-of-house. Complete kitchen display systems (KDS) and KDS software can help improve back-of-house operations. Unlike kiosks, they cannot replace employees but can streamline food preparation and staffing training. KDS’s reduce training time for new back-of-house employees as they can display the ingredients involved in a certain menu item, or cooking instructions for specific orders. 

The latest KDS systems can analyze tickets and help employees prioritize what should be cooked and when. For example, if several meals could be cooked at the same time in the same oven, the system flags it for an employee—yet another way KDS is helping onboard newer employees and make them more efficient from day one of their tenure. 

Advantech’s UTC-515 is a KDS optimized to endure a high-intensity kitchen environment. For example, the screens are oil resistant and can be rotated up to 180 degrees for quick reference by multiple team members. The UTC-515 kitchen display is also a great example of a product that is built to last, says Yang, which she considers a brand standard that separates Advantech from its competitors. 

“Our products are industrial grade, and that means they have longevity,” Yang says. “If a customer buys our products they can use them for 8 to 10 years, they don’t have to worry about them constantly breaking or needing to be replaced. And if there is a problem, our software allows remote management where brand leaders can look at a dashboard to see what happened to a device.” 

The implementation of one or all of these technologies can be a huge boost for restaurants navigating the worst of the labor crisis. But the solutions are also a great way for brands to future proof the way that they do business, because someday these technologies will be the standard in the quick-service industry. 

For more information, visit the Advantech website.

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