December 12, 2022
Lauren Platero

Understaffed: Meaning & 6 Steps to Increase Business For An Understaffed Restaurant

An understaffed restaurant can raise many questions and concerns. It can impact the performance of employees and the dining experience for customers. In extreme cases, an understaffed restaurant can affect the financial stability of the business.

As a restaurant manager, you can use many tech solutions to help streamline restaurant operations. In fact, some might even help you increase revenue.

Before diving into several ways to increase business for an understaffed restaurant. Let’s uncover how to define the term.

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Understaffed Meaning

When a restaurant is understaffed, there are not enough employees to be efficient. In many cases, an understaffed restaurant results in poor customer service, a high employee turnover rate, and mishandling of operational tasks.

Any type of business can be understaffed; however, there are unique ways to combat each. For instance, an understaffed restaurant isn’t going to onboard the same tools as an understaffed hospital.

If you operate a restaurant, it’s important to know why your team might be minimal in the first place. Then, you can determine which resources will help elevate profits.

Why Are Restaurants Understaffed?

Since 2020, many restaurants have been understaffed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As thousands of restaurants closed due to national or statewide mandates, many people did not return to the restaurant industry.

As the restaurant staffing shortage continues throughout the United States, many restaurant owners must adapt and implement new ways to maintain business. Fortunately, different forms of restaurant tech are becoming efficient, mainstream, and cost-effective.

Continue reading to learn about increasing business for an understaffed restaurant.

Increase Business For An Understaffed Restaurant

Innovative restaurant technology has several benefits for understaffed restaurants. From all-inclusive software to in-house devices, a digital transformation can offer many ways to increase business despite the team size.

In a world full of emerging restaurant tech, read on to learn about the six ways you can increase business for an understaffed restaurant.  

1.  Use Restaurant Administration Software

As a restaurant manager, you might spend a lot of time in the office. However, you know the business more than anyone else, which makes you a productive asset within an understaffed restaurant.

To optimize your strengths and maximize the restaurant profit margin, consider using restaurant administration software to streamline standard operations.

For instance, a digital filing system can help a business owner organize documents during tax season. Or, it can be beneficial for scheduling shifts–if you’re still conducting this manually.

Accounting and bookkeeping software is vital when running a business, too. Ensure accuracy and efficiency with a simple platform or third party provider.

The products and services which you outsource will depend on your business needs. However, if your understaffed restaurant needs more attention and gains, an all-inclusive restaurant administration software can boost efficiency.

2. Download Inventory Management Software

Every restaurant manager has numerous duties to tackle every shift. In a traditional setting, inventory management is time-consuming and costly. With this said, use a restaurant inventory management app that can make restocking one of the simplest tasks.

Ever wonder how to eliminate the hassle of calling multiple suppliers from a wholesale directory? Or, have you ever hoped for a convenient way to buy everything you need in one marketplace? If so, you’re in luck.

BlueCart can help an understaffed restaurant by supplying the owner(s) with everything they’d need in a single app. You can also use it to categorize items into catalogs, making it easier to take inventory and place recurring orders.

Inventory management techniques should be user-friendly and efficient. Say goodbye to lengthy spreadsheets and hours-long inventory counts.

With an app like BlueCart, you can monitor and restock inventory in real-time. Book a demo today to learn how inventory management can accelerate your business.

3. Install Kiosks

Self ordering kiosks can be game-changers for an understaffed restaurant. Though they’re exclusive to casual dining businesses, they can elevate the entire experience.

Counter-style and other types of casual eateries will benefit from self-ordering kiosks the most. They decrease the number of cashiers, waiters, and hosts you need to employ.

According to research by kiosk companies, self ordering kiosks can accomplish the following:

  • Shorten table turnover times by six to nine minutes (Forbes)
  • Encourage customers to pay up to 21% more per check (Forbes)
  • Increase wait staff tips by 15% (Forbes)

If you operate a quick service restaurant or are considering making your restaurant more casual, kiosks will do wonders for your business. For understaffed restaurants, they’re also an investment that’ll pay for itself over time.

If cashiers and waiters experience burnout, kiosks will eliminate the employee turnover rate. Consequently, you’ll lessen labor costs by not having to constantly train new staff members.

4. Utilize QR Codes

QR codes are the little square barcodes you see on restaurant doors and tables. Customers can view your menu on a digital website by hovering a smartphone camera over the image.

DIY QR codes can be beneficial for beginners. Just make sure that you use a PDF accessibility checker. In the long run, the goal for your restaurant should be to have a custom QR code linking to a digital app. Not only do they create a sleek aesthetic, but they’re more user-friendly.

QR codes that link to an app are also easier to edit. For instance, if you use a design link in a platform like Canva, you’ll have to manually change the design every time you alter the menu. But with a QR code platform like SproutQR, you can maintain the visuals.

QR codes pair very well with tableside devices, as you can view and order food without the help of a waiter. Plus, it’s a safer and more sanitary option than handling physical menus.

Though QR codes won’t solve all of the issues with being understaffed, they can help simplify each shift. You’ll still need wait staff on duty, but their responsibilities will lessen.

Book a demo with SproutQR to learn more about getting a professional, editable QR code for your restaurant.

5. Opt For Tableside Payment Devices

Save your wait staff two trips to each table with payment devices. The time it takes waiters to deliver the check and retrieve it might take longer than you’d think.

Customers can pay the bill on their own with such devices. In some cases, they also allow customers to place orders. These orders go straight to the kitchen and restaurant POS platform. The chefs can ensure accuracy, while the host will get the total price correct.

Pay at table restaurants are successful for having quick turnover rates, too. When customers don’t have to wait for their check, the time it takes to wrap up and leave is quick. As an understaffed restaurant, you’ll want to ensure that your employees have fewer tasks while serving more consumers.

Pay at table devices creates a system where you can accomplish multiple goals at once. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.

6. Use Restaurant Automation For Scheduling

Overstaffing particular shifts over others can result in work overload. To combat this risk, use a software that helps assign employees to shifts.

Before you assign shifts, retrieve the times and days per week that every employee can work. Then, give each of them the appropriate amount of hours.

Manually scheduling work shifts can cause confusion, and there is room for human error. By using a restaurant automation system, you’ll know exactly when everyone is due to come in. Plus, it’ll better manage any sick or PTO days.

Most scheduling software options allow you to view time-off requests, which are scheduled throughout the week, and can make any necessary changes. Some advanced options might also include data such as labor costs, individual salaries, and more.  

Set boundaries for underperformance and absences. If your restaurant is understaffed, you’ll likely need all the help you can get. Plus, it’ll help promote a more productive work environment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Understaffed Meaning

What Is Another Term For Understaffed?

The term “understaffed” is often interchangeable with the following terms: short-staffed, overworked, overbooked, and shorthanded.

The understaffed meaning refers to all these terms and their effects on a restaurant.

What Happens When You Are Understaffed?

When your restaurant is understaffed, the following negative effects can occur:

  • Physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Stressful work environment
  • Lack of dedication from employees
  • Negative customer service inquiries

Closely monitor the behaviors of your restaurant staff. If you find that their levels of interest and cooperation decrease, it might signal an overworked team. Once this occurs, act quickly to improve the environment’s quality.

How Do I Know If I Am Overstaffed?

Contrary to an understaffed restaurant, it’s also possible to be overstaffed. One of the biggest red flags that you’re overstaffed is when the labor cost remains the same, yet your total revenues continuously decrease.

If you notice this trend over an extended period, it might be time to cut back on your number of employees. If you find that these numbers continue to fluctuate, reevaluate your strategy, spending habits, and so on.

Understaffed Doesn’t Mean Underperformance

Sometimes, an understaffed restaurant can portray a stressed and overwhelmed environment. In such cases, it can be difficult to elevate performance. However, there are still ways to be productive.

Conduct a restaurant SWOT analysis to determine specific strengths and weaknesses of your business. If you find there are ways to improve, opt for corresponding services, automation, etc.

Understaffed restaurants can be productive when the proper tools and resources are available. Weigh your options and onboard what will be right for you. Since these will likely be investments, monitor progress and metrics regularly. In time, you’ll find ways to revamp your restaurant despite having a smaller staff.