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Improving Restaurant Operations with Automation

Technology and automation tools to keep operations running.
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From inflation to supply chain disruptions to labor shortages, restaurants are shifting how they run their businesses in order to adapt to ongoing changes that started during the pandemic.

Currently, one of the most pressing issues in the industry is labor shortages. As of April 2022, restaurants were operating around 6% below their pre-pandemic employment levels. Additionally, the increases in digital orders spurred by the pandemic have only made things more complicated and disruptive to workflows.

With limited staff, many restaurants began adopting technology solutions and automation tools to keep their operations going. Following are several ways automation technology can help improve operational efficiencies and maximize revenue.

  1. Streamlining Kitchen Operations

Automating certain aspects of restaurant operations can solve many pressing challenges, help simplify complex processes and reduce waste and error. In today’s environment, one of the biggest pain points for restaurants is the ordering fulfillment process. Many restaurants are now faced with orders coming in from multiple touchpoints – online, at the point-of-sale (POS), through a third-party delivery platform, from an app or tablet at the table, or a self-ordering kiosk. An integrated system, like a Kitchen Display System (KDS), that considers the workflows from one part of the restaurant to another, is crucial.

An efficient printer/controller can seamlessly connect to POS systems, allowing merchants to optimize their kitchen operations with quick and easy printing of checks, kitchen tickets and order management from any point of origination. As a result, KDS can enable streamlined back-of-house management, improved front- and back-of-house communications, order speed and accuracy, and ultimately, increased efficiency.

  1. Offer Convenience with Self-Ordering

Restaurants facing labor shortage issues can leverage tools such as self-ordering kiosks to help alleviate workload. Not only does this free up staff to focus on other customers with different needs or assist in other areas of the restaurant, but also gives customers more control over their dine-in or take-out order experience.  

58% of restaurants say enabling self-service options (such as kiosks) are drivers impacting POS upgrades in 2022

The pandemic brought new demands to restaurants with customers requesting contactless payment and socially distanced experiences. Self-ordering kiosks eliminate the need to place orders face-to-face, with store or restaurant employees and allow people to keep their distance. These solutions also give merchants additional value-added ways to connect with their customers. For example, as part of the ordering process, customers may be prompted to provide or join the business’ loyalty program or log in and activate or redeem loyalty points. It also offers suggestions for complementary items and providing the option to add a tip.

Lastly, in the current climate of supply chain issues and shortages, consumers ready to place orders may not be able to find the exact items they want. A self-ordering solution gives them the chance to explore options and order alternatives without requiring assistance from an employee.

  1. Enable the Ghost Kitchen Movement

A growing trend spurred by the pandemic is adding a ghost kitchen to an already working restaurant. Instead of opening up a new location, a ghost kitchen allows restaurants to expand their menu and offer delivery and carryout-only items out of their existing space.

Implementing a ghost kitchen can be challenging without the right tools. Automation tools like KDS and liner-free label printing can help restaurants manage two businesses out of one. In addition to KDS that gets orders to the prep area fast, adding liner-free thermal label printing solutions support order delivery workflow, making it easy to print and personalize on-the-spot packaging labels for both online and to-go orders, improving order accuracy and coupling as a tamper-evident seal.

Take on Modern-Day Challenges with Future-Proof Solutions

It is expected that a good proportion of restaurant operators plan to ramp up investments in technology this year, offering what a majority of operators see as a competitive advantage. With the right automation tools, restaurants can streamline their operations and find ways to circumvent the increasing number of challenges they face whether it be labor shortages, unreliable supply chains or rising costs. Restaurant automation provides a variety of benefits from simplifying processes and optimizing operations to combating labor shortages, eliminating user error and improving customer satisfaction – ultimately helping restaurants stay ahead of the curve.

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Mauricio Chacon,group product manager for Epson’s North America POS solutions division

Mauricio Chacon is group product manager for Epson’s North America point-of-sale (POS) solutions division, leading product marketing, business strategy and product launches. Over the course of his career, he has introduced a variety hardware solutions for B2B IT, Retail, Hospitality, OEM, and Government verticals.

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