How a Digital Workplace Supports Restaurants Through Disruption

Restaurants have made great strides in the digital realm—from contactless payments to online ordering—but 32 percent of them feel like they could add to their technology stack to optimize operations. The industry is even starting to see a rise in the number of CTOs, or Chief Technology Officers, to support this digital growth.

The benefits of a digital workplace can put restaurants in a better position to increase profits, reduce waste, and experience greater growth. Here’s how:

Digitally Enabled Workers Will Stay with the Company Longer

Whether they’re waitstaff, sous chefs, or delivery drivers, frontline workers are the backbone of the restaurant industry. But they’re often disconnected and disengaged, resulting in high turnover which averages 70 percent to 100 percent. 

Digital tools can help restaurant leaders tackle this ongoing problem. Boosting retention can save companies the expense of replacing staff which the National Restaurant Association calculates to be as high as $2,000 per worker and $15,000 per manager.

For starters, today’s restaurant worker prefers an employer who takes a progressive approach to technology. A company with an employee app will have a leg up on competitors in attracting talent. They’ll also be able to hold onto those employees long term.

Giving workers mobile communication tools increases retention in several ways:

  • Empowers workers by giving them access to real-time communication to help them perform their jobs better 
  • Gives front-of-house teams the resources to provide better customer service
  • Builds greater autonomy by giving employees control over their own schedules
  • Opening a platform for employee recognition, a big-ticket item when it comes to securing employee loyalty
  • Creates a channel for workers to share perspectives and insights to improve operations

MOD Pizza, a fast-growing QSR brand with nearly 500 locations and 10,000 MOD Squad members, is built on a bottom-up leadership approach. Company leaders know that their frontline squads have a unique vantage point and valuable insights. For these reasons, MOD’s frontline squads are often asked to contribute ideas and operational solutions. 

The company has adopted a mobile workforce app that facilitates two-way communication that supports their commitment to listening to their frontline workers. This employee-centric approach to company culture has resulted in high engagement, as well as MOD being recognized as one of the “20 Best Workplaces in Retail,” a “Best Workplace for Millennials,” and a “Best Workplace for Diversity.”

Digital Communication Can Increase Customer Loyalty

Restaurants should have a robust marketing strategy and strong online presence to attract new customers these days. One study shows that 45 percent of consumers make restaurant choices based on social media posts. But restaurants can’t survive on one-and-done diners. The real money is with repeat business. 

Customer loyalty is built on a combination of factors that a digital workplace can support, like:

  • Ease of experience: Consumers want the multiple steps of dining in or taking out to be easy. From ordering food to reserving a table, they want to do things digitally. 
  • Digital service: Despite the convenience ordering online and reservation apps provide, diners still like human interaction with their transactions. A digital workplace will enhance that experience by giving service workers the tools to provide answers on the spot, without leaving the table, and remedy any issues immediately. 
  • Brand consistency: Customers are more likely to revisit an establishment if they know what to expect. Whether a restaurant has one location or multiple, a digital communication tool can be used to align all employees to information like policies, menus, and promotions for continuity of service. 

Guest loyalty pays off. Repeat customers spend an average of 67 percent more than first-time diners.

Digitally Enabled Restaurants Have Less Waste

Every year, 22 to 33 billion pounds of food goes to waste in restaurants. It’s a sustainability issue, but it also impacts the business’s profit margin. 

Technology can help companies save money simply by reducing their losses in several ways, such as:

  • Less food waste through more accurate ordering: Digitally connecting the front and back of house can reduce order mistakes. Online ordering allows customers to pick exactly what they want. Clearer communication leads to more accurate ordering and less food being thrown out.
  • Digital inventory management: Keeping track of every ingredient on site is a big task. Through a digital hub, managers can accurately track inventory levels to ensure they have what they need. 
  • Better food storage: It’s estimated that four-to-ten percent of restaurant food waste happens before it even reaches a customer. That’s often due to improper storage of ingredients. Managers can use their mobile communication tool to share the proper handling and storing of food with their staff.
  • Data-driven dining: Restaurants can easily fall into the trap of having too many menu offerings, buying and storing food for less popular menu items in case someone orders that dish. Digitization will be able to deliver valuable data on which dishes are better sellers so managers can craft a menu based on sales history and order the exact amount of food they need based on analytics.

Greater Agility to Survive Through a Crisis

In a normal year, restaurants must find ways to build customer loyalty, reduce turnover, and stay in business. But 2020 threw us a curve ball and taught everyone a hard lesson on the benefits of business agility.

When restaurants digitize administrative tasks, internal communication, and customer service functions, it creates a singular hub through which all information flows. It knocks down silos for a more aligned enterprise at every level. 

This internal alignment enables a restaurant to pivot. In March, many restaurants were forced to either shut down or find a different way of operating. Companies with a digital foundation had an easier time rapidly deploying new strategies (like online ordering for curbside pickup). Teams connected to a workforce app also were able to maintain real-time communication with management for evolving workplace safety protocols and other up-to-the-minute information— which is critical in times of uncertainty.

As companies change their operating models, they need to communicate information to their workers so everyone can simultaneously shift to new ways of doing things. Restaurants have an easier time accomplishing this when their workforce has access to mobile internal communication. During a crisis, total alignment enables restaurants to transition quickly and limit disruption.

For restaurant enterprises that operate several brands, digital communication allows leaders to share best practices, safety policies, and real-time updates to align workers across multiple companies through one platform.

Digital transformation is changing how customers engage with companies, boosting workforce engagement, and improving the overall efficiency. With greater retention, less waste, and the flexibility to withstand changes in customer demand, digitally enabled restaurants have a greater chance of surviving and thriving.