Controlling What You Can: Risk Reduction and Restaurant Technology

Controlling the variables in the restaurant industry can feel like a game of whack-a-mole if you don’t have the right tools at your fingertips. Especially in a time where the industry is in flux because of the pandemic, juggling things like food costs, keeping shifts full and food safety can feel more difficult than ever.

Fortunately, controlling the variables that can pose a risk to your business are within your grasp. Modern restaurant technology can provide peace of mind to operators worried about food safety violations, labor law mistakes, falsified data and more.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce the risks to your operations, here are a few things operators are doing to protect their businesses.

1. Double Down on Food Safety

Food safety problems and foodborne illnesses can do serious damage to your brand reputation. However, no matter how dedicated your employees are to safe food practices, it only takes one mistake to potentially sicken customers, which is why many restaurants are turning to technology for additional peace of mind regarding food safety.

With food safety software, you can ensure line checks are being done correctly, at the required intervals and know whether any changes were made to the data and by whom. Plus, Bluetooth sensors help you keep an eye on fridges and freezers, so you are aware as soon as possible if they go out of a safe temperature range.

Employees are always your first line when it comes to food safety, but good technology acts as backup for one of the most important parts of your business.

2. Get Proactive About Compliance with Labor Laws

Nobody wants to intentionally break local labor laws, but manual scheduling and clock in makes it all too easy to miss something like employees not taking required breaks or scheduling shifts back-to-back.

Labor scheduling software makes it easy to avoid these common missteps. In addition to helping plan for labor needs based on sales forecasts, modern scheduling and labor software can help each location comply with state and local labor laws. Mandatory breaks, hours minors can work, how close shifts can be scheduled, or other requirements can be applied at the state or store level to help your managers avoid noncompliance when setting the schedule.

3. Increase Stickiness of Training Information

Many restaurants are essentially having to train new staff right now. Many long-time hospitality employees left the industry in 2020, and restaurants are dealing with low staffing, new-to-the-industry employees and pent-up consumer demand for dining all at the same time. Particularly for employees just starting in foodservice, it’s all too easy to forget information from training that can expose your business to risk.

Fortunately, training has come a long way from the welcome packet and a week of shadowing coworkers. You can create microlearning moments that remind and reinforce key takeaways for employees through alerts, push notifications or quick reminders during shift meetings. Plus, you can create a document library for your employees with videos, cheat sheets and other training material so it’s always available to employees who need a refresher.

4. Monitor Pandemic Health and Sanitation

With the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 and likely future variants, many customers want to continue dining out but still see COVID risk mitigation procedures as an important part of their decision-making process when deciding where to dine. 

Having clear health and sanitation processes and communicating those to employees and customers goes a long way toward ensuring your guests can return and feel safe no matter what twists and turns are ahead of us.

Digital checklists and reminders help employees adhere to evolving pandemic safety procedures, such as cleaning at specific intervals or mask requirements. Plus, all of this is stored in a way that keeps a clear record of what was done in case that’s needed by local health officials.

5. Catch Compliance Issues Early

Traditionally, restaurants see potential risks weeks or months later after reports have been compiled and emailed throughout the company. Strong business intelligence and reporting tools make it easier than ever to spot potential areas of risk before they grow into a problem.

Automatic, real-time reporting at all levels of your business is a critical part of reducing risk. Getting these reports allows you to see trends in adherence to procedures, whether data is frequently being changed after it’s entered and more.

Running a restaurant doesn’t have to feel like juggling with too many balls in the air. Modern restaurant technology has gained the sophistication needed to help you run your business effectively, maintain margins and reduce risk that could threaten your brand reputation.