SURVEY: Tech is Top Priority for Next 12 Months

Anna Wolfe
Senior Editor, Restaurants

Zenput shared results of a survey of multi-unit restaurant operators conducted in collaboration with Technomic. The research revealed new insights into the top operational challenges facing restaurant brands, as well as their top priorities to drive growth and better serve customers in 2021.

According to Hospitality Technology's 23rd annual 2021 Restaurant Technology Study, 46% of restaurants surveyed say their IT budgets are increasing in 2021.  Top strategic goals for tech investment are  Improving digital customer engagement,  support revenue-generating opportunities,  and improve ecommerce.

Watch: Strategic Insights From HT's 2021 Restaurant Technology Study

Top Priorities

  • According to Zenput and Technomic's research, restaurant operators’ top priorities over the next 12 months are implementing new technology (48%), ensuring customer and employee safety (44%), and recruiting employees (38%).

  • The top five areas for technology investments in the next 12 months include sanitizing/cleaning technology, food safety tracking, inventory tracking, employee training, and employee performance tracking/feedback. 

  • While 66% of operators agree that a food safety issue would put their business at risk, only 41% of restaurant operators believe they can correct a food safety concern within 24 hours.

Technology & Ops

Technology usage for operations increased since last year: 44% of operators now say they are using technology to a great extent to automate various aspects of their restaurant operation vs. 27% in 2020 – a 63% year-over-year increase.

82% of operators now report using software/apps for conducting their audits, however, 44% also report using paper checklists to conduct audits.

When asked how specific store tasks are tracked, a majority of operators cited the use of software and mobile apps for tasks such as inventory (71%), storage temperature checks (63%), completing production sheets (63%), and employee wellness checks (56%). 

COVID-19 & Ops

Restaurant operators made a multitude of business and process changes in response to the pandemic: 66% of operators started employee temperature checks, 62% of operators rolled out new sanitization procedures, 54% added or increased their curbside pickup offerings, and 49% adjusted to fewer or no in-person meetings.

Looking beyond the pandemic, 84% of the operations leaders that rolled out enhanced safety procedures expect those changes to become permanent, 82% will continue to use their newly implemented digital checklists, 76% plan to keep working with third-party delivery services, and 68% will continue offering their new curbside pickup options.

Employees are tasked with completing and tracking an average of 8-9 hours of critical work each day in every location, including spending more than 2 hours on food labeling for prep and carry-over, and nearly 1.5 hours per day on sanitization procedures.

However, the confidence in this work being done correctly and on time is relatively low – only 32% of operators are very confident that task and communication logs are done in a timely manner, and only 50% are very confident that labeling is being done right. 

The research study was based on a survey of 186 restaurant operators conducted by Technomic in February 2021. The pool of survey respondents included operations VPs, directors, and managers, as well as field leaders, store managers, IT administrators, c-suite executives, and owners.

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