The restaurant industry has been forced to change dramatically over the past few years, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Takeout and delivery has steadily increased, and many restaurants that didn’t offer takeout and delivery in the past introduced it in order to survive during challenging times. While the pandemic dust has settled, consumer behavior continues to demonstrate that people want convenience in all aspects of their lives, including food. Takeout and delivery isn’t just a fad—it’s here to stay.
According to McKinsey, food delivery has become a global market worth more than $150 billion, having more than tripled since 2017. Takeout and delivery become one of the fastest growing industries in North America, and this demand is fueled by an increasing number of people who want to dine in the comfort of their own homes, explains Jim Taylor, the founder of Benchmark Sixty, a financial optimization platform for restaurant operators that uses metrics to improve productivity.
It’s clear that the demand for takeout and delivery is here to stay, but what does this mean for restaurant operators? And how can you ensure you’re equipped to handle the volume of takeout and delivery? Having a team that operates like a well-oiled machine can make all the difference. When it comes to staffing, here are some things to keep in mind to ensure your restaurant’s takeout and delivery segment operates smoothly—now and in the future.
Take a 360-degree review of your team
One of the best places to start is by looking at your in-house team. Your employees are at the heart of your business, and they play an important role in ensuring hungry customers get their food when they need it and how they want it. Some initial questions to consider: Are there enough people working front-of-house and back-of-house? Are they in the right roles to help your business succeed?
If your business model has changed to focus more on takeout and delivery, you may consider reallocating staff and shifting responsibilities. For restaurants with a booming takeout and delivery business, boosting your back-of-house staff—for example, adding more prep cooks to keep up with the demand—may be a solution. Another way you can do this is by tapping into the data on your integrated in-house platform. Insights from takeout and delivery orders will help you determine how many employees you’ll need for each shift while identifying any staffing gaps.
Implement a comprehensive training program
Implementing a training program can help ensure a restaurant’s takeout and delivery segment operates smoothly as well. When hiring, Taylor advises operators to look at how well trained prospective employees are and how long they’ve worked in the industry. This can help boost productivity and retention from the get-go since they’re already familiar with the industry. While this is ideal, operators should also consider additional training for existing staff if they are stepping into new roles. There’s a lot to learn, from working with third-party apps to navigating integrated POS systems to handling walk-ins. Cross-training is also a smart strategy so that staff can wear many hats and deepen their skill set.
When employees feel confident in their roles, they’ll be more engaged, and, as a result, more likely to be with you for the long haul.
“Retention is the new cool”
Like many sectors these days, labor shortages and challenges retaining staff have been a stark reality for the hospitality industry. “The people side of the industry has changed the most,” says Taylor. “There are only so many people to work right now and retention is the number one challenge that restaurants face at this point in the recovery from the pandemic.” Taylor’s catch phrase is “retention is the new cool”, meaning that operators need to consider what they can do differently to keep employees because the way they’ve always done it isn’t working anymore.
Taylor explains that many restaurants are short staffed, yet are trying to achieve revenue and profit results of pre-pandemic levels. “They have the same level of output with less workers, so they’re trying to find ways to be more efficient, which leads to more employee burnout and turnover,” he says. He uses the analogy of a factory worker placing bottle caps on bottles on a moving conveyor belt. When the conveyor belt is progressing at a reasonable speed and the employee has time for breaks, the quality of work is high. Once the conveyor belt picks up speed, the employee’s stress level increases and the quality of work plummets. Much like the conveyor belt example, Taylor says that the level of productivity in a restaurant is an important metric for both revenue and retention. “If an employee is stretched out, this leads to burnout and that directly affects turnover as well as the customer experience,” he says. “Protecting the workload of employees should lead to increased retention.” Fair wages, hours and benefits are also important factors in hiring and retaining staff as well.
While staffing continues to be a challenge for the restaurant industry, taking a deep dive on the current team, implementing training and analyzing productivity levels to increase retention are all things that can make a difference for the customer as well as your restaurant bottom line.
About Smooth Commerce
Smooth Commerce is an all-in-one digital commerce and customer marketing platform for restaurants that combines online and mobile ordering, delivery, loyalty, and powerful marketing tools to help you grow your business, while giving you access to your customer data to help grow your restaurant. If you would like to learn more or talk to a representative from Smooth Commerce about how our platform can help you meet your loyalty goals, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.