The UK hospitality industry is facing pressure from all sides, what with increases in business rates, rents, price inflation on produce and increases in labour costs. So, how as an industry do we decrease the biggest cost of all – labour, without cutting back on customer service?
Do we need to be returning to an era of self-service?
Today, we live in a world where consumers need everything instantly and with no hassle. Because of this, there is a steady increase in the use of mobile payments apps which allow customers to control orders and payments from start to finish.
Labour costs are the most expensive component of the hospitality industry, in order to reduce these costs, operators are having to turn to technology - whether in the extreme form of robot chefs, or by removing team members from the bar or table service, replacing them instead with kiosk screens, or putting the power of payments directly into the hands of customers through their phones.
Operators need to look at what technology they can implement to help deliver service, ordering and payments more efficiently, whilst reducing labour costs. An obvious step is through customer mobile transactions. Ideally an operator would be on key aggregator apps such as UberEats and Deliveroo that can drive revenue for home delivery but also have own branded solutions to personalise the customer experience, which will drive in store transactions, higher average spends and optimise labour efficiency.
Keep it quick, keep it simple
The two most important functions of the payment or ordering process is that it is fast and simple. Let the customer pay easily and be rewarded for the continual investment to your brand. Implementing alternative payment methods such as mobile payments or order at table can improve operational efficiencies and the overall customer experience.
Keeping customers happy with less staff?
Operators shouldn’t be implementing any cost saving strategies at the expense of the customer and technology shouldn’t come into play unless it enhances the overall customer experience. Mobile payments not only encourage customers to spend more but also plays a huge role in reducing labour costs, whilst improving efficiencies and speed of service.
Implementing order at table via the customers mobile can automate the work of team members, freeing up front-of-house teams to focus on customer satisfaction. The key reasons operators implement this solution is to remove the need for a staff member to take the order, reducing labour costs and to remove lost revenue opportunities whereby the customer is deterred from ordering because the staff member/s are too busy or not to be seen.
Is it time for robot chefs?
Automation and robotics have been present in restaurants for some time now - automating everything from orders and delivery to cooking, rota scheduling and drone deliveries - we’ve seen it all. Whilst robot chefs do already exist and would appear to be the perfect fit particularly in a QSR environment, they won’t work across every style of service. Some customers want an ‘in and out’ style experience such as Nando’s, whilst others are looking for attentive customer service, such as fine dining restaurants or premium casual dining. The trick when it comes to technology, is knowing the balance of what customers want – ultimately, operators need to be looking at what saves them time and money, and implementing pay-at-table mobile payment or ordering apps is a fantastic way to strike this balance.