June 29, 2023
Lauren Platero

10 Solutions Restaurants Can Use to Combat a Labor Shortage

There are so many variables that can impact the restaurant industry. However, a labor shortage has to be one of the most challenging ones to navigate. Being short on delivery drivers, different types of chefs, or the wait staff can have major effects on restaurant operations. It’s even worse if you’re having a hard time filling roles in all three categories. 

In recent years, the labor shortage has been pretty persistent. So, we’re about to present you with several labor solutions that can help you manage a difficult economy. But first, let’s learn a bit about the issue at hand.

Labor Shortage: Definition

A labor shortage refers to the scenario where there are not enough workers within a company or industry. When a labor shortage occurs, it can be challenging to complete operations. In severe cases, there can be uncertainty whether a business will be able to scale up. 

A telltale sign of a labor shortage is if an employer is having a difficult time filling roles. This is especially true for positions that at one time, would fill very quickly. In this situation, the employer or recruiter must consider what changes have taken place in the market. 

Issues That Coincide With a Labor Shortage 

Many issues arise during a labor shortage. In the worst case scenarios, it can cause businesses to shut down. Leading up to this point, there are various risks to be mindful of. The most common ones include the following:

Industries That Suffer the Most From a Labor Shortage

Unsure of which industries suffer the most when a labor shortage strikes? Just think about all of the business sectors that require great customer service to be successful. Customer-facing duties require a team that is present and efficient. When there are not enough employees onboard, and there’s little to no innovation in the workplace, it can be difficult to move the business in an upward direction. 

It’s safe to say that the service industry gets dealt the worst cards during a labor shortage. More specifically, here are a list of business types that it affects the most:

Restaurant Labor eBook

10 Tech Solutions to Help Manage a Restaurant Labor Shortage

Many types of brands require innovation to navigate a labor shortage. However, we’ll be focusing on the restaurant space. Read on to learn about ten solutions to manage a restaurant labor shortage:

1. Self Ordering Kiosks 

Kiosks will be one of the most valuable restaurant tech solutions when you’re short-staffed. Instead of requiring servers to take orders and input them in the POS system, customers can do so on their own. So, it allows the eatery to employ few people. So even if the industry is experiencing a labor shortage, it won’t heavily affect businesses operated by kiosks.

Even if the kiosks are expensive to maintain, the labor cost comprises more variables. With a kiosk, you won’t need to pay for training periods, wages, benefits, and insurance. From a cost-savings perspective, they’re ideal. 

2. Pre-Order Functions

Allowing customers to pre-order food and drinks can allow smaller teams to be more productive. If there’s a slow period during a shift and there are orders pending for a future time, the kitchen staff can use this time to prepare. 

If customers were not able to pre-order menu items in advance, it would result in high-volume shifts. When this occurs, you’re at risk of numerous issues. Inaccurate orders, frustrated employees, and unhappy customers can be common outcomes. 

3. Tabletop Devices 

Restaurants that place a digital device on each table are more likely to manage a labor shortage over others. Why? Well, they’re leveraging labor saving devices to do the bulk of the work. With such devices, fewer waiters are necessary to run smooth operations. 

Without a member of the wait staff, guests are able to view the menu types, place orders, and pay the tab. As you can imagine, this lightens the workload drastically for the restaurant’s team.

4. Online Ordering Apps

Delivery apps can be game-changers for restaurants that have a limited wait staff. When using third-party delivery service providers, eateries can leverage their drivers. This way, they don’t even have to worry about hiring for these roles. 

Making it possible for customers to order carry out or delivery can also help maximize profits. No matter how big the building is, the restaurant seating capacity can only house so many people. By offering off-premise orders, you’ll expand your reach. The best part? You can boost cash flow while reducing the cost of labor

5. Ghost Kitchen Design 

A ghost restaurant is a style that does not allow dine-in options. It survives strictly from carryout and delivery. If you’re experiencing the heat from a labor shortage, this might be a good restaurant type to convert your business into. 

It’s also important to remember that a ghost kitchen can reduce restaurant expenses by a long shot. Things like restaurant lighting, decor, and physical menus are no longer part of the equations. And of course, the labor expenses of a wait staff isn’t, either. 

6. Restaurant Inventory Apps 

Manually tracking inventory levels can be a time-consuming process. Sometimes it’s the job of the restaurant manager. Other times, it’s that of the sous chef. Either way, it takes time away from a staff member’s standard operations. 

When there’s a shortage of employees at your restaurant, you need everyone to focus on their most pertinent tasks. By onboarding a restaurant inventory management system, you’ll be able to put such processes on autopilot. For the first time, inventory forecasting, inventory control, and the reorder point can be set far in advance. 

Looking to improve inventory management techniques to ease the current labor shortage? Book a demo with BlueCart today!

7. Marketing Automation Software

Marketing is an entire department in its own right. There are so many working parts to successful restaurant marketing efforts. From designing graphics to keeping up with a marketing calendar, it can be a lot of work for an employee who has other tasks on their plate. 

By using automation features, restaurants can put most of their marketing campaigns on autopilot. Similar to automated inventory management, it can become one less thing the staff will have to worry about each day.

8. Restaurant Data Analytics Dashboards

Retrieving and analyzing customer data can be a time-consuming process. However, many POS integrations include a dashboard with the most valuable metrics. From sales trends to consumer contact information, it hosts all the insight you need. With such tools, you no longer have to take the time to manually mine data. Instead, it’s accessible to everyone across the board, at all times.

9. QR Codes

Despite them being a simple addition to a restaurant, QR codes can be quite valuable when you’re understaffed. Similar to tabletop devices, there are numerous things guests can use them for without the help of a server. 

For instance, they can browse the menu and place orders. Just by scanning the code with their phone, everything they need will be at their fingertips–literally! The best part? It’s super easy to login and make updates as needed. 

Want to create a custom QR code for your restaurant? Schedule a demo with SproutQR today! Setup is easy, and it can add an innovative touch to your eatery.

10. Staff Development Resources 

To really optimize the limited staff you have, ensure that they have the skills and resources to handle the job. Workshops, training manuals, and mentorships are all elements that can be beneficial for your team. Maybe you want to teach them about the tech solutions you’re onboarding. Or, perhaps you need to assist them in handling busy seasons. No matter the situation, encouraging them to learn is never a bad idea.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Labor Shortage

Is the labor shortage putting a damper on your restaurant operations? If so, there’s no need to fret. Though it might be discouraging, it’s not the end of the world. The first thing you need to do before fixing any issue is to become knowledgeable about it. So, read on for a brief overview of the labor shortage in the United States. 

Why Is There Such a Labor Shortage?

There is a labor shortage across the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the time in which most businesses shut down, many people were collecting unemployment or stimulus payments. With this money and a lot of time on their hands, many people began learning new things and steering their career in a new direction. Then, once businesses operated as normal once again, many past employees were on a new path. 

Is There a Labor Shortage In the US?

Yes, there is quite a labor shortage in the US. As less and less people return to the workplace, it becomes more difficult for companies to operate as efficiently. 

Why Is Everyone So Short Staffed?

Short-staffed businesses grew in popularity due to reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, people were living off of stimulus checks and unemployment. This allowed millions of people in non-essential jobs to step back from work. Plus, they were able to take the time to learn new skills, become experts in other fields, and find new career paths.

Why Is There a Labor Shortage In Restaurants?

There is a labor shortage in the restaurant industry due to the number of jobs that were initially lost during the pandemic. During this time in history, a lot of food service workers were out of a job. So, many of which turned to other skills and industries. By the time that restaurants were opening back up, many original employees did not return.

Is There a Labor Shortage In the Food Service Industry?

Yes, and as of January 2023, the food service industry has yet to recover since the pandemic. In fact, there were roughly 450,000 more employed workers in this industry's labor force prior to the pandemic. This statistic marks the largest employment deficit across all industries in the United States.

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So How Will You Combat the Recent Labor Shortage?

Just because the labor shortage is impacting your business, it doesn't mean that it has to for long. As you now know, there are many tools that can help combat related issues. In fact, Revolution Ordering can offer you an advanced array of off-premise solutions that can take the stress off of your staff. Feel free to book a demo now, and one of our dedicated Account Executives will promptly reach out to help you!