Empowering restaurants with technology ensures convenience without spreading employees too thin.

As vaccination rates increase, many restaurants are welcoming customers back to their dining rooms. Yet, despite consumers’ eagerness to dine in-house again, many guests have come to appreciate the convenience that off-premises dining offers and have no plans to stop ordering carryout and delivery anytime soon. However, between the strain of reopening and nationwide labor shortage, managing both in-hours and off-premises dining is more complicated than ever.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants faced staffing issues because dine-in ordinances led to lower traffic and the loss of sales,” says Brian Wayne, vice president of customer success at QSR Automations. “Now that restaurants have figured out how to make takeout work, they are also beginning to reopen dining rooms, and they can’t hire people fast enough to execute both off-premises and in-store dining.”

As a result, many restaurants have adopted technology to automate routine tasks throughout each store and free up labor for higher-impact jobs, like communicating with guests. However, while much of this technology focuses on kitchen operations or order-taking—a massive challenge for understaffed brands—the same attention hasn’t often been applied to carryout and curbside pickup orders.

“Many restaurants still rely on guests calling employees to tell them they were in the parking lot,” Wayne says. “Often, employees are too busy with other tasks to pick up, or orders aren’t ready on time. Managers, who often use software to track in-house orders, can’t track their carryout and curbside pickup orders, so we built a solution called ConnectSmart Go that does just that.”

The solution automates off-premises dining experiences by tracking orders, alerting kitchen staff when guests arrive for pickup, giving guests accurate pickup times based on actual volume and kitchen activity, and even providing two-way SMS messaging to streamline communications. Best of all, ConnectSmart Go ties into the rest of the ConnectSmart platform, which comprises a kitchen display system (ConnectSmart Kitchen), a recipe management module (ConnectSmart Recipes), and reservation management system (ConnectSmart Host). Having these features in one software ecosystem allows restaurants to track and find bottlenecks in service or operations to continue providing the same convenient service guests expect.

The pandemic brought the convenience factor into focus,  Wayne says. Carryout and curbside pickup aren’t going away—they’re more important now than ever. By automating the curbside experience, streamlining delivery, and offering notifications that keep guests and kitchen staff informed about the status of orders, employees can focus on order accuracy and provide an excellent guest experience to ensure those diners come back again.

To learn how automation can improve your off-premises operations, visit qsrautomations.com

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