How to deal with your restaurant being understaffed
When a restaurant is understaffed, employees often find it increasingly difficult to get the flexibility they desire. This is dangerous, since flexibility is a primary reason many highly skilled employees choose to work in the industry in the first place.
Restaurant staff are unable to take the time off to go on the dream holiday they’ve been planning, or even get a shift covered for a medical appointment. This pushes many of the best staff out, or at least to another restaurant with better staffing.
Restaurant owners have found themselves working harder last year than ever before and have been doing every job, whether it's working the kitchen, dishwashing or even front of house to keep the restaurant afloat.
We know how problematic it can be when you not only are short staffed, but also experiencing unexpected levels of customers.
Aside from simply hiring more staff, there are several methods you can make use of to boost the productivity of the staff you already have. Restaurant automation software is being developed all over the world and these new innovative tools will have lots to offer to restaurant owners.
Yet, streamlining your restaurant isn’t just about automation and fancy new tech (it can be expensive). There are also several low-tech solutions that don’t require a large workforce and that can reduce the labour hours needed to run the restaurant efficiently.
Here are some of the ways we found that can help you thrive regardless of staff shortages:
These have been adopted for several years now, but this method has really taken off thanks to the pandemic. Customer’s smartphone cameras can read QR codes that simply link to a restaurant’s digital menu, or better yet an online ordering site and payment system - cutting out the need of staff having to take orders and focus on other tasks like getting the meals ready.
Simplify your menu
Alongside shifting your entire menu to a digital version, it is also good practice to simplify it. Which is easy to do when you don’t need to keep reprinting fresh menus. You can temporarily get rid of dishes that don’t sell well, require several ingredients or take longer than your average meals to prepare. Alternatively, can you find ways to reduce the labor required without completely taking away the dish. This tactic can reduce the number of chefs you need working at the same time.
This may not work at every restaurant, but casual food spots can replace dishes and flatware with disposable or single-use items that don’t need washing i.e. an extra pair of hands to do an extra task. This can include wooden/metal trays with paper liners which work at many fast food spots. Over half of consumers are concerned about the environmental impact of product packaging so it can be attractive to offer sustainable and recyclable options.
Employee scheduling software
Sites like Hubstaff and 7shifts are some of many different employee scheduling software available for businesses like yours to incorporate to your workflow. They can keep track of staff availability, hours worked and also holiday requests. Some even go as far as sorting all your invoices and payments. Software like this can quite easily save you several hours every week.
Inventory management tools
Here is where we come in. Not only can you as a restaurant manager source all your ingredients from a range of suppliers from our marketplace at competitive prices, you also have the ability to keep track of inventory and easily reorder your supplies on a regular basis. This provides you extra time to focus on what really matters - customer experience.
Purchase pre-prepped ingredients
Some suppliers can offer pre-diced ingredients like vegetables to save your chefs time and allow them to prepare dishes much faster. A marketplace like ours makes it easy to find a range of alternative suppliers that may suit your needs.
Adjust operating hours
We know some tools require extra investment and capital isn’t always available. In that case, why not try a low-tech solution like simply just cutting down your opening hours? Analyse your customer traffic reports and look for days or times in the week where sales are consistently lower than others. Are you then able to open later or close early? This doesn’t have to be permanent but it’ll at least help until you’re able to start hiring again.
Although this new technology can really make an impact, we know that a restaurant business is still people-based. No piece of tech can replace the human touch that brings customers back every time. You need to apply these new automated tools intelligently so that they help your restaurant make the most of the staff you are working with and avoid the ultimate ‘employee burnout’.