Though staffing challenges are not new to the restaurant industry, the first half of 2021 has been marked by a tighter labor market than ever before.
“The problem is quite serious,” says Lenny Evansek, senior vice president of national retail business development at Loomis. “There are still an overwhelming number of job openings without enough people or enough availability to fill them. For example, there are still 1.1 million fewer workers in the restaurant industry than there were in February of 2020, so while people are filling some jobs, we’re still down a staggering number of positions.”
In fact, the situation has grown so challenging that many quick-service restaurants typically known for 24-hour or late-night service are operating on reduced schedules, which has driven losses in revenue. Meanwhile, when restaurants do have enough employees to stay open, they are often operating with a smaller staff, leading to increased wait times and lower levels of customer service, which is impacting customer survey results and brand reputations.
In order to compete for talent, many brands have tackled the shortage by increasing wages and making benefits packages more attractive by including options such as tuition reimbursement, support for childcare, retention and referral bonuses, and even healthcare for part-time workers. However, even the most competitive brands are still feeling the crunch, leading them to invest in the automation of low-value tasks to reduce the store workload, improve coverage in guest-facing roles, and to let employees focus on more important, rewarding jobs.
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“Many employees are overworked and overburdened, so restaurants are investing in technology that automates tasks like recruiting, onboarding, scheduling, and depositing cash to their bank,” Evansek says.
For example, 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.
Additionally, Loomis can help multi-unit restaurants automate procedures at the corporate office, too, thanks to Platform Sync, which gives headquarters near-real-time visibility into each store’s cash situation without spending time by going to a website and pulling down reports for research purposes. Meanwhile, franchises—even those that recently acquired new properties—can streamline their treasury processes by making sure all operations are centralized and each store uses the same best practices.
“The value proposition of what we offered two years ago was the same as what we offer now: We reduce labor expenses from 45 minutes to two hours per day,” Evansek says. “But now, restaurants’ needs have shifted, so it’s not so much about reducing labor expenses as it is filling a gap on the schedule. Yet regardless of what restaurants are trying to accomplish, we can help them achieve it with this simple automated process.”
To learn how automating cash handling can help your restaurant manage the labor crisis, visit the Loomis website.
By Peggy Carouthers