Tech’s Role in Beating the Restaurant Hiring Crunch

The hiring shortage and the fallout from "The Great Resignation" that saw 47 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in 2021 is still in full swing, particularly in restaurants. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that restaurants have seen the largest number of resignations of any employment sector, with the year-over-year quit rate rising from 4.8 to 6.9 percent, with many workers citing take-home pay as a big factor for quitting.

With the restaurant industry getting pummeled by record inflation and 53 percent of Americans saying they have cut back on dining out, finding room in the budget for raises or higher starting pay is a tough pill for any operator to swallow.

How can technology increase tips by? First, by moving the distant central terminal to the palm of the server's hand, waitstaff can transmit orders to the kitchen or bar and accept payment directly from the table. That lets servers find a better balance between tableside hospitality and administrative tasks. Instead of spending up to an hour per shift walking to input orders or cash out checks, servers can put more time and energy into meeting the needs of guests. The result is greater customer satisfaction and bigger tips, plus less stress for servers, more repeat business and money-saving efficiency for the restaurant.

Another way technology can boost tipping is by turning even new hires into the knowledgeable servers guests love. For example, as a dish is added to an order at tableside, the system can deliver an on-screen prompt with expandable wine pairings for that specific entree. The server doesn't need an encyclopedic knowledge of wine. All they have to do is say: "Here are a few wines our chef recommends with that dish." If the guest accepts one of those suggestions, the server doesn't have to return 10 minutes later and apologize because the vintage is out of stock. Because server mobility pads can be connected to automatically-updated inventory, the system won't suggest a certain wine when the last bottle was sold twenty minutes ago. That's the power of real-time data.

For servers, it's using technology to help them do their job to a higher standard while turning their tables up to 15 minutes faster. For guests, it's a richer and more personalized dining experience, resulting in significantly higher tips. That makes for a happier, better-compensated staff that's less likely to join "The Big Quit," without upping base pay. It's just one of the dozens of ways technology is helping restaurants thrive in these trying economic times.