2019 was a banner year for the restaurant industry, with sales for the year climbing to over $850 billion. By 2030, restaurant sales are projected to approach $1.2 trillion. But these massive numbers don’t necessarily translate to more money in your pocket. As in any other industry, restaurant owners today face a unique set of challenges that directly impact their ability to effectively attract and serve customers. They also directly impact your bottom line.
The good news is that, although challenges continue to evolve, technology is also evolving to provide unique opportunities to meet and overcome those challenges. So what are the top challenges facing the industry today, and how can new technology help you to face them and claim your share of the ever-growing restaurant revenue pie? Let’s Take a closer look.
Competition for qualified restaurant workers has skyrocketed in recent years as the growth in available jobs continues to outpace the workforce available to fill them. This is good for job seekers, but it’s not so good for restaurant owners looking for top-flight chefs, servers, front of house staff, etc. to offer the kind of service that attracts and keeps customers. Few things drive good customers away like poor service.
But finding good staff is only part of the problem. What good is it to find all the staff you need if you can’t keep them? Where tech can make the biggest contribution to alleviating labor woes is in the management of the staff once you get them.
The right technological staff management tool can make a huge difference in keeping qualified staff by automating the scheduling process and giving each employee some control over when and where they work.
Shift flexibility is a top driver of staff satisfaction, and by leveraging modern tech solutions you can not only increase scheduling flexibility, you can also more easily identify when and where staff is most needed and avoid the cost of overstaffing during business down times.
Another consequence of a shortage of qualified labor can be extended wait times for customers resulting in loss of business as disgruntled patrons move on to other establishments. Technological solutions like OneDine help maximize your labor resources to efficiently and quickly serve customers with a leaner workforce.
From a simple mobile device check-in scan to the ability to use that mobile to order without waiting for overworked wait staff to the ability to easily pay, split the check, or pay per item all from the convenience of their table, patrons get the service that keeps them coming back and maximizes the return on your labor investment.
The OneDine platform can even use customer-entered profiles and purchasing histories to offer personalized offerings and menu suggestions tailored to each individual patron.
Setting yourself apart
Another consequence of increased competition is the difficulty in standing out among the ever-growing crowd. The more you blend in with the deepening pool of restaurants that may seem to be just a slight variation on what you offer the lower your chances of claiming the market share you need to stay afloat.
You need to carve out your own, unique value proposition. You need to know who your target audience is. You need to focus on appealing to this target group as opposed to casting a wide net in the hopes of reeling in every available customer. You need to know what it is that sets you apart and makes you better than the competition.
Get the word out
But, most importantly, you need to get the word out. You need to effectively communicate what’s special about you, and you need to do it in the places where your target customer base hangs out. You need to leverage every last advantage that tech has to offer.
Arguably most important among these many options is mobile/online accessibility. Over 75% of all restaurant searches are initiated on mobile devices, and that number is only going to grow. A mobile-optimized website and multifunctional mobile app can no longer be an afterthought.
Learning and taking advantage of the quirks and advantages of various forms of social media can be the most effective way of establishing and communicating your unique personality and value proposition.
Good ratings on customer review sites, “likes” on Facebook, pics of your creations posted by satisfied customers on Instagram can all be hugely effective drivers of new and repeat business. All you need to do is develop and maintain a robust and focused social media presence. You’ll not only reach your ideal customers more effectively, but you can also turn those customers into volunteer social media brand ambassadors.
Take the leap
New technology can be intimidating and overwhelming, it’s true. But it’s also an extremely effective way to establish your brand, put you in front of the right audience, drive them through your doors (both physical and virtual), and serve them more effectively and efficiently. If you don’t take advantage of it, you’re ceding the battlefield to those who are. All you have to do is take that first step.
Go for it!