Seasonal travel is heating back up. Here are some ways to be ready for a bigger in-person presence.

With summer travel kicking into full gear, many quick-service restaurants are feeling the strain on their labor resources more than ever before. Prior to the summer, some restaurants had already started reducing schedules and operating exclusively through drive-thru or pick-up services.

However, two years of pent up demand for traveling is now sending Americans across the country to catch up on their previously canceled plans. According to a survey by TripIt, from Concur, 73 percent of Americans plan to travel this summer, a 50 percent year-over-year increase. At the same time, the restaurant industry is still dealing with a historic lack of labor. This equals long lines, reduced menus, limited payment options, decreased customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, less revenue.

“This summer is going to be a real test for the restaurant industry,” says Lenny Evanseck, senior vice president of National Retail Business Development at Loomis. “Restaurants located in tourist destinations and around high-traffic travel locations like airports and hotels are going to be busier than ever. Leadership will need to manage the time of every operational task all while balancing employee retention and recruiting efforts.”

There are two main ways quick serves can minimize the impact summer travel and the labor shortage have on business: recruitment and retention efforts, as well as investing in automation. “There is a hugely competitive labor market right now,” says Evansek. “We are noticing that a lot of the same summer talent pool has opted for ‘gig’ jobs like driving for rideshare or third-party delivery companies. Also a strain on filling seasonal positions, the number of employed teenagers is at a level not seen since 1991 despite an increase of eligible employees in this demographic.”

Restaurants have to find a way to compete with the flexibility and higher pay often offered by the so-called gig economy. Beyond increased wages, restaurant operators looking for a competitive edge must deploy additional recruitment tactics such as support for childcare, tuition reimbursement, healthcare for part-time workers, flex scheduling, and other incentives.

“While these tactics help, restaurants are still feeling a strain,” says Evansek. “This has led restaurant owners and operators to look at their overall operations and discover potential low-value tasks that can be automated.”

Through investing in automation, employees and managers can focus on guests and customer service while reducing time spent on back-store operations like cash handling, recruiting, onboarding, and scheduling. And when it comes to cash handling, Loomis’s Titan smart safe ecosystem reduces the time it takes employees and managers to perform mid-day drops and prepare deposits.

It also eliminates the need for managers to make trips to the bank, since cash is deposited into the safe, where it stays until Loomis’s armored car service picks it up. Best of all, even though cash is still physically on-premises within the safe, Loomis’s banking partners provide restaurants provisional credit for that cash waiting to be deposited.

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