One of the biggest challenges restaurants face today, and likely in the months and possibly years to come, is recruiting and retaining employees, with dine-in business rebounding faster than staff can be hired.
The signs of labor market tightness are evident. According to the Wall Street Journal, wages rose in April – a sign that some employers were lifting pay to attract or retain employees. The Journal also notes that the number of people who voluntarily left jobs also rose for the second-straight month, potentially indicating increasing confidence among workers that better positions are available.
While the leisure and hospitality sector, including restaurants, accounted for the bulk of employment creation in April, adding 331,000 jobs - it’s still not enough to meet the surge in demand. According to a recent study, 89% of full-service restaurant operators say that their current staffing levels are below normal. Some believe low wages are driving away restaurant staff.
People are eager to get back to on-premise dining with pent-up demand for their old familiar full dining experience. As business ramps back up again, restaurant owners and managers are flocking to restaurant hiring apps and are offering incentives to get staff back. Those owners are also looking for ways to do more with less, while boosting employee loyalty and retention. A tall task.
One way to mitigate staff shortages is with a pay-at-the-table solution that removes the server from the payments process and allows them to focus on upselling to other customers. The silver lining is that pay-at-the-table gives the guest a more positive experience too, allowing them to pay when and how they want. The result is higher gratuity for wait staff – 16% on average – and a stronger bottom line for the restaurant. That’s an alluring feature for prospective staff members.
Reducing manual processes for wait staff and helping them to earn more from tips are both attractive perks but wait staff are still wary of safety. Protecting their personal safety is not only in the best interest of the restaurant, it’s also essential to today’s recruiting strategy. Pay-at-the-table technology can mitigate the number of customer touch-points necessary to serve guests. It also helps to uphold important social distancing precautions, which enhances everyone’s safety.
The tight labor market may be here for a while so, in addition to attracting and hiring wait staff, achieving greater labor efficiency is also important for restaurant operators. Pay-at-the-table technology helps here too, paring back a time intensive, multi-step process into a single delivery to the table. By simply taking the server out of the payment process, it can save a full-service restaurant thousands of dollars in operating costs.
Getting more done with less is the name of the game right now, but there are other benefits that come with pay-at-the-table technology. Managers can use it to survey customers and be alerted to anything that was unsatisfactory – before they leave the restaurant. And for restaurant operators that still struggle with chargebacks, pay-at-the-table technology can enable high-security EMV payments and reduce the risk of fraud.
There’s a lot on the plate for restaurant operators right now. Getting back to normal as quickly as possible continues to be the foremost goal. While pay-at-the-table technology may appear to be just one piece of the puzzle, it can actually help put the entire puzzle back together – from recruiting and retaining staff, to customer service and accounting. Now that’s doing more with less.
About the Author
Gordon Gardiner is the CEO of TableSafe, a company transforming the way restaurants and other venues complete their hospitality service.