With the restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic in our rear-view mirror, restaurant owners are still plagued with the resulting labour shortages, along with an additional obstacle: economic turbulence. However, restaurants will continue to serve many purposes – for some, they are a means of avoiding cooking, and for others, they are an outlet to connect with friends and family or celebrate a special life event. Despite these inflationary challenges, restaurants are not going anywhere, and these obstacles can be a catalyst for change.
Restaurants are now better equipped than ever to fill the gaps created by the labour shortage and inflation. Many restaurants have implemented new technology to streamline the ordering process, address staffing shortages, control costs, and engage customers, ultimately leading to a better environment for staff and guests.
Technology as a tool
Over the past decade, guest preferences have advanced along with technology. Guests are changing what they eat, how they eat, and where they eat, with the expectation that the restaurant industry will evolve alongside them.
Restaurateurs must invest in cutting-edge technologies to stay up-to-date or even ahead of industry trends to meet their guests’ constantly changing preferences. Maintaining guest satisfaction is about offering best-in-class customer service – and that can be done with the help of integrated technology.
Prices are rising
Although 2022 marked a rebound in revenues for many restaurants as the pandemic’s peak disruption faded, 2023 holds continued challenges for operators with rising costs. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, and restaurants can leverage technology to save money and stay competitive in a challenging market.
An inventory management system can assist restaurants in optimizing their supply chain, reducing waste, and saving money on food costs. Restaurants can also use data analytics to analyze customer behaviour and preferences. This will help them make more informed decisions about menu offerings, pricing, sales forecasting and food waste reduction.
Lack of labour? Add tech to the menu
Adaptability and ingenuity are essential when running a successful restaurant in today’s challenging environment. Restaurants can combat service industry staff shortages with the help of digital ordering systems, intelligent scheduling, kitchen display systems, and self-serve kiosks.
By introducing digital ordering systems and mobile scan-to-order, restaurants can reduce the need for human interaction, which is an ideal solution in times of staff shortages. By integrating online ordering channels and POS systems, orders can be directed straight to production. This will alleviate the need for staff members to catch orders as they come through manually.
Intelligent scheduling software can help restaurants optimize staff schedules and reduce labour costs while ensuring adequate coverage during peak hours. Kitchen Display Systems can also be used to help coordinate cook times and standardize cooking instructions, so operators can maintain quality while working with less-experienced kitchen staff.
Restaurants could even venture one step further and add self-service kiosks to streamline the ordering process, reduce wait times, and increase efficiency in the restaurant. In addition, they can help restaurants minimize labour costs and improve the customer experience.
The importance of a regular customer
Customer retention plays a vital role in business growth and profitability. Without loyal, repeat customers, succeeding in any business is challenging. Dining out is set to get even more expensive in Canada this year, and as restaurant operators raise prices to cover cost increases, customer retention is top of mind for restaurant owners nationwide.
Loyalty programs can deliver value to loyal guests and motivate them to return. Customers seeing increasing costs are looking for ways of making their spending power go further; with loyalty rewards from trusted merchants, they see this benefit and are enticed to focus their spending where they get something in return. In addition, loyalty programs also provide restaurants with rich customer data such as preferences and feedback. This information can be used to personalize marketing and improve the overall customer experience.
2023: An optimistic year
Canada’s restaurant scene is thriving, with over 133 Michelin-recommended restaurants. Restaurateurs should focus on creating outstanding culinary experiences, rather than worrying about labour and inflation challenges. Implementing integrated technology into a restaurant will support operators in evolving their business to create a better and more efficient working environment, setting up the restaurant for long-term success while freeing space to do what they do best: providing an exceptional dining experience.
Since joining Givex in 2007, Mo Chaar has helped the company expand its North American footprint. He began his tenure as a Business Development Manager before becoming Vice President of Sales for North America, and then moved to his current role of Chief Commercial Officer. In this role, Chaar oversees commercial strategy and development worldwide as well as managing the sales teams within North America. His experience in gift card, loyalty and POS has played a pivotal role in the success of some of Givex’s largest partners. As Givex continues to expand on a global level, with a wide array of product offerings, there is a need to keep the teams aligned on pricing, product and sales approach. As the CCO, Chaar continues to manage the North American Sales and Corporate Account Management teams and also takes on the added duties of supporting the Global Managing Directors in ensuring that all functions of the organization are aligned to meet our strategic commercial objectives. You can learn more at givex.com.
Mo Chaar is the Chief Commercial Officer of Givex, where he oversees commercial strategy and development worldwide as well as managing sales teams within North America. His experience in gift card, loyalty and POS has played a pivotal role in the success of some of Givex’s largest partners. You can learn more at givex.com.