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Food

Amid labor crunch, operators look for menu efficiencies

Photograph: Tree Top

Finding and retaining staff remains a significant challenge for the restaurant industry, forcing operators to rethink their operating procedures and menu offerings.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the accommodation and foodservices industry had more than 1.3 million job openings as of July, and foodservice establishments employed 1.2 million fewer people than before the pandemic.

In addition, about half of all restaurant operators surveyed by the National Restaurant Association said recruiting and retaining employees was their top challenge for 2022, according to the NRA’s 2022 State of the Industry report. Most operators said they expect labor challenges to continue all year.

The labor crunch, combined with general inflation, are driving up costs at a time when operators can little afford to raise menu prices. In addition, staffing shortages can have a negative impact on customer satisfaction, creating more stress for operators.

As a result, restaurants are streamlining their menus and figuring out how to drive more output with fewer workers.

    Streamlining operations can include:

    • Use ordering and payment technologies to minimize front-of-house labor needs.
    • Eliminate menu items to make the back-of-house prep/throughput more efficient.
    • Use prepared or pre-packaged products that meet your quality standards—such as those offered by Tree Top, for example.
    • Cross-utilize ingredients in multiple recipes to streamline inventories.

    In order to maintain guest satisfaction in a labor crunch, remember:

    • Maintaining high quality standards is important.
    • When replacing menu items with prepared or packaged items, use brands consumer know and use at home—especially for kids’ meals.
    • Offer healthy options kids love and parents can trust.

    “With … the labor shortage growing greater by the day, restaurateurs have no choice but to adapt to the current environment and adjust how they run their businesses,” the National Restaurant Association wrote in a recent blog post.

    When deciding what menu items to eliminate, operators should consider several factors, including how difficult the items are to prepare, how profitable they are, and how popular they are. Items that have both low profitability and low demand are strong candidates for elimination.

    Items that are popular but generate narrow margins could be retained, but there may be opportunities to look for more efficient ways to produce them. Perhaps they could feature less expensive ingredients, if the input costs are too high, or partially prepared ingredients, if too much labor is needed to make the item.

    Tree Top can help. Tree Top provides easy-to-serve, shelf-stable options that are practically labor free with the added bonus of being a healthy option that kids and parents both love.

    For kids, Tree Top offers both conventional and organic juice boxes, which are ideal for in-house, grab-and-go, delivery and pickup, as well as apple sauce pouches and fruit cups, and Tree Top’s dried apple crisps are a healthy option for both kids and adults . Tree Top also offers 100% U.S.-produced products, both conventional and organic.

    For more information about how Tree Top’s healthy, great-tasting products can help restaurants drive profitable sales, visit Tree Top for Restaurant Operators.

    This post is sponsored by Tree Top

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