The new catering sector and what it faces
In recent years, the hospitality industry has been confronted with the boom of home delivery platforms — for example, Just Eat and Deliveroo — and opinion and reservation pages, such as Trip Advisor and The Fork. We now live in a society accustomed to living at a fast pace with less and less time for everything. This in mind, it is of no surprise that the emergence of these platforms has caused customers to change their consumption habits.
Additionally, customers are becoming increasingly demanding of good service. Whether they decide to eat outdoors or in the office, consumers in general are looking for comfort, friendly service and an elegant yet informal environment. They don’t mind having to pay more at the end of the meal if these factors are met, as long as the quality of the products and dishes also meets their expectations, of course. According to the chef Juan Pozuelo (part of the Honour Committee of the Spanish Cooking Selection), this new customer, “wants to live a better and better experience, at a contained price, in environments that are increasingly further away from what traditional gastronomy has been for many years, and without losing the quality of raw material and elaboration.”
In light of changing consumer habits, restaurants must adapt to make their business sustainable.
The staff has to do their work with more efficiency than ever before and offer exceptional customer service, as any failure during the customer’s visit can end up reflected on the internet and give your business a very bad reputation. According to a study carried out by Zendesk, 88% of consumers regularly read opinions on the internet before making a final decision. Meanwhile, 90% declare that good references about a restaurant influence their purchase decision. Finally, 86% say that negative criticism of a particular restaurant also influences their choice.
In addition, restaurants nowadays not only have offer exceptional products and services to customers in the room, they must also serve those who have placed orders online. Put this all together and it’s highly likely that the restaurant must increase its staff in order to carry out the new workloads created by customers and technology.
Offering services to a new type of customer
The waiters, hosts, bartenders and other professionals who are in direct contact with the client reflect the image of the restaurant in the customer’s eyes. That is why they are key to offering a quality service to this new demanding customer profile. “Employees are essential when it comes to making your stay a rewarding experience worth remembering,” says Manuel Senante, head of the Hospitality School of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Having employees with a good presence, a friendly attitude, a sense of humor and a great deal of professionalism is crucial, which means it is necessary to have committed employees. This commitment is earned on a day-to-day basis. If employees feel good at work, have a pleasant working environment and a good relationship with the company and other colleagues. To this end, it is important that employees do not have excessive workloads. Shift schedules must be created with the aim of helping employees balance their personal and professional lives. Employers must also respect their staff’s work preferences and give out work schedules well in advance.
In order to achieve this, the following conditions must be met:
- The staff must be optimally sized at all times depending on customer demand. This means the business must always have the number of employees required, no more and no less, both in the kitchen and in the dining area. Having the right staff is essential to providing good service. We must never keep customers waiting because there are not enough workers to attend them. Of course, it is important to remember that there is a fine line between being adequately staffed and being overstaffed, which could increase labor costs.
- Workers’ schedules and shifts must be planned well in advance so that they can easily manage their personal and family life. In addition, employees that feel that the company takes into account their preferences and needs as much as possible will be more satisfied with their jobs. Therefore, keep in mind that it is important to divide the hours fairly among all staff.
- You must give employees the tools they need to carry out their work in a simple and efficient way, which today translates to providing them with software or solutions that make their day-to-day lives easier. Some examples include inventory management solutions and personnel planning solutions.
The need to increase staff and how to manage it
A restaurant staff is not an easy thing to manage and plan. It has very different professional profiles, from dining area staff to kitchen staff, and both teams must be perfectly sized in order to provide the service customers expect.
Most restaurants today offer delivery as an option, partly due to delivery platforms, which is a good opportunity to increase sales. However, this inevitably leads to an increase in workload and the need to increase staff. As shown in the latest study by NPD Group, home orders currently range from 60% of total orders in companies such as Telepizza to 11% of total orders in other restaurants.
In order to optimally size a restaurant’s staff, it is necessary to take into account the hours of highest and lowest demand in the restaurant, which means knowing the future demand beforehand. In addition, for planning purposes, it will be necessary to take into account the skills and training that each employee must have, their availability, their contracts and the legal regulations in effect, among others. This all must be done without forgetting that workers need to have balance in their lives and have their schedule preferences respected. If we forget this, it will affect the staff’s satisfaction with the company. This wide set of variables, rules and constraints makes employee sizing and planning complex.
What options do I have to improve employee planning?
Fortunately, there are various options available to help restaurant owners and managers with workforce planning thanks to advances in Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence. There are solutions that predict the future demand that the restaurant will have beforehand, identify the optimum staff sizing at any given time and create employee schedules with a single click. This allows the interested parties to meet business needs and ensure employee satisfaction.
These solutions allow restaurant owners and managers to:
- Predict the demand that a restaurant will have at any time of the day, hour by hour.
- Optimally size the workforce to adapt it to the predicted restaurant demand.
- Plan staff schedules and tasks well in advance, taking into account employee skills and preferences and the needs of the restaurant itself.
- Give employees the option to have an active role in managing their schedule, expressing their preferences and requesting shift changes with other colleagues in a simple way through an agile mobile app.
Thanks to these solutions, creating a restaurant staff schedule and assigning tasks is much simpler and more agile, which makes it easier to control labor costs, significantly improve customer and employee satisfaction and increase the overall productivity of the restaurant.