Using automation to combat the restaurant labor shortage

How automated processes can help operators fight the restaurant labor shortage in the front and back of house. 

restaurant labor shortage

The Department of Labor recently released their April 2021 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary. To summarize, the U.S. is facing a restaurant labor shortage like never before, fuelled by restaurant closures, restrictions on dining capacity, and a record number of layoffs.

If you’re a restaurant or franchise operator feeling the pinch, keep reading. We break down exactly what the labor shortage is, and how front and back of house restaurant automation can enable you to do more with less.

What is the U.S. restaurant labor shortage?

Strict COVID-19 protocols came into place last year, forcing many restaurants across the nation to close their doors to the public and drastically reduce staff. As the restaurant industry returns to normal, employers are now finding it considerably difficult to find or hire back their staff. 

There are numerous reasons why many restaurants, cafés, and fast-food chains are finding themselves in this predicament. For some, it’s the constant instability of workplace closures. For others, the long hours and low pay, coupled with the risk of exposure, aren’t worth it. 

How automation combats the restaurant labor shortage

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has described the labor shortage as “getting worse by the day.” Some operators are offering new incentives to find, hire, and keep workers. Many McDonald’s restaurants are raising employee wages. One location is handing out iPhones to employees who stay on for at least six months.

Other prominent chains are also participating in the trend. Chipotle has decided to expand debt-free educational degree options for employees. Whataburger now promotes all managers to “operating partners” and raised their salaries to at least $100,000. In the FSR market, Applebee’s is offering complimentary appetizers to everyone who attended a job interview. 

However, hiring incentives simply aren’t viable for all hospitality businesses. One solution that applies to the entire hospitality industry is delegating tasks to automated processes, cutting required labor hours and expenses in the long run. 

Automation has already had an impact on many industries, including the restaurant industry. In fact, according to a recent study, “45% of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated”.  It provides a method for businesses to be innovative, remain competitive, and rise above many of the challenges the pandemic has created. 

Types of front of house automation 

Start by thinking about what activities or procedures you can automate, therefore alleviating some of the demand for staff. For example, just some of these processes could include:

  • Self-ordering kiosks, so diners can place their order via a screen immediately, rather than relying on waitstaff to take their order in person.
  • Automated checkout systems, so staff members no longer need to organize the check at the end of every diner’s stay.
  • Placing soft-drink stations in the dining area, allowing diners to select and receive beverages and refills immediately
  • Reservation automation systems, which automate the reservation process through online booking systems, saving employees hours per day accepting bookings over the phone

Back of house restaurant automation

After examining front-of-house processes, identify tasks in the back-of-house that require repetitive actions, such as temperature checks.  

Constantly monitoring equipment for the optimal temperature is an essential daily task. Frequent equipment temperature checks take valuable time out of an employee’s already busy day. With fewer restaurant workers than ever before, every minute counts. Smart temperature sensors automatically monitor the temperature of your equipment, allowing management to relocate time to serving customers, preparing meals, or keeping your establishment clean.

For restaurants operating with skeleton crews, temperature sensors also unlock the ability to monitor equipment after-hours or with limited staff. In addition, temperature monitors alert operators to potential equipment breakdowns, allowing teams to take quick action as needed. 

Therma° wireless sensors protect your inventory 24/7 from equipment failures, power outages, and human error. Receive alerts via email, SMS, or phone call when an issue arises, and unlock predictive equipment maintenance to eliminate costly last-minute repairs.

To learn more about how Therma° can help your restaurant automate back of house processes, schedule a meeting with a friendly member of our team today.