We’ve all heard the good news. Dine-in traffic is recovering as vaccinations increase. But how can restaurants sustain this demand when the industry remains 15% below pre-pandemic job levels? The ongoing labor shortage makes it inevitable that service times will increase.

This spells bad news for your sales. Your existing staff will be more burdened too. With wage inflation and the growing gig economy, the labor shortage is a costly problem that is here to stay. To keep business flowing, you’ll need to manage the situation proactively. Here are some ways to keep tables turning without compromising your dining experience.

Forecast traffic for peak hours and days.

The money and time-saving work starts with knowing your busiest hours and days. This empowers you to make the most of your existing staff.

Accurate forecasting doesn’t need to be all manual work. The right technology can do it automatically for you. An analytics platform powered by artificial intelligence (A.I.) can integrate with your POS to show previous sales averages, as well as predict future performance.

Additionally, computer vision technologies can count the number of guests who are leaving your lobby before being seated. If you optimize staffing schedules for busier days, you can seat guests promptly before they head to another place next door. The same solution can be applied to the drive-thru setting. The system automatically notifies managers to deploy more staff when wait times or line lengths are high.

Increase order accuracy.

Order mistakes aren’t just a major customer service headache. They can slow down your entire pipeline. Imagine having to redo a dish with the wrong condiments, only to serve it to the guest and find out that they had ordered something entirely different!

There are thankfully a few efficient ways to up both kitchen and order-taking accuracy. Are your restaurants being plagued by order-taking errors? With server assistant tablets, staff can input orders on the spot via a quick menu search. Speech recognition technology built into the tablets can also keep your staff covered with a final accuracy check.

Are your take-out or drive-thru guests complaining about wrong orders? We recommend a back-of-house solution as well. A.I.-powered cameras can detect errors during food preparation, assembly, and final hand-off. The system will send a friendly alert to your staff about the mistake immediately so they can correct the problem on the spot, without needing to redo the entire order. Less stress and more time saved!

Enable guests to order and pay on demand.

Think about how many times a server needs to visit the POS station. Including order entry, printing out the bill, payment, and receipt printing, that’s at least 4 trips. If those trips could be decreased—or even eliminated altogether—servers could cover more tables at once.

As overwhelming the current situation sounds, one solution can quickly resolve it: on-demand ordering and payments for guests. You can offer guests pay-at-table technologies such as tabletop tablets and QR codes. Deploying these solutions drastically reduces server trips to the POS terminal. In fact, servers would be able to spend more valuable face-to-face time with guests.

Dealing with crowded lobbies or drive-thrus? Try implementing preorder and pay options instead. You can install a convenient kiosk in your lobby or drive-thru. QR codes can also be displayed in the parking lot or drive-thru. Who doesn’t like sitting down immediately to piping hot food?

Optimize your restaurant layout.

Here’s a final tip that isn’t always the most obvious. If guests are spending too long deciding on their order at the drive-thru order window, it might be time to add a dynamic menu board that suggests popular items and combos while they’re waiting in line.

Are guests crowding up the restroom area and slowing down staff? A.I.-powered computer vision technology can help you identify bottlenecks and optimize your dining room layout.

Invest in technology for ongoing success.

The current labor shortage is a crisis that rivals the pandemic. But we want to remind you that there’s still so much that you can do to provide your existing staff a boost in efficiency. Both front-of-house and back-of-house technologies are a strong investment that can help shelter your concept from the uncertainties of the labor market for years to come.

Presto offers a range of technologies to help you thrive in a limited-labor environment. These include order and pay-at-table technologies, server assistant tablets, voice ordering, and computer vision. Please contact us here if you’d like to see a demo of any of these solutions.