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How automation helps reduce back-of-house labor costs

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The strong economy is a double-edged sword for restaurant operators who might be enjoying the benefits of increased sales but at the same time are having to manage rising labor costs amid low unemployment levels.

Average retail wages have risen by almost $1 per hour in the last year, to $19.40 as of March, according to U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, although the federal minimum wage has not increased from $7.25 per hour since 2009, 27 states and Washington, D.C., have increased their minimum wage in the last five years, and another 41 local municipalities have adopted minimum wages that are higher than their state levels, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Automating the back of house can help reduce the time necessary to complete certain tasks, as well as reduce the number of people needed to complete various operational and food safety tasks. Naturally, through this, labor costs will be reduced as well.

Automated back-of-house solutions that assist in training and onboarding, inventory management, product labeling and other tasks can all contribute to reducing labor costs.

Reduce labor costs with improved training

Using an automated library of training and onboarding videos, for example, reduces the time that managers and other staff need to spend participating in these tasks. With a turnover rate estimated to exceed 70%, the restaurant industry is in particular need of tools that streamline onboarding and training and at the same time, help boost retention.

Automated training solutions such as those from TransAct Technologies provide the added benefits of offering employees an engaging way to learn, while providing operators with the benefits of a digital record of the progress of each employee.

Automated checklists digitize task management

Automated checklists support operational processes such as task management, preventative maintenance and routine audits. With TransAct’s BOHA! Checklist app, employees and managers can handle their tasks more efficiently through a digital system. This app gives visibility into who is doing certain tasks and when they’re being done. Along with this added accountability, there is insight into how long those tasks are taking. The app’s included timer function can be very helpful in terms of keeping staff on track with accomplishing tasks during a specific timeframe. Additionally, a digital checklist can help operators structure the days’ work; certain tasks may be moved to a different time of day to prevent interference with customer-facing activities. 

Making inventory management more efficient

Inventory management can also be streamlined using automated solutions.

Managers often spend an inordinate amount of time conducting inventory counts, matching distributor invoices with purchase orders and performing other tedious activities that can be better handled using technology. The BOHA! Inventory system from TransAct Technologies simplifies this process so that any employee can easily conduct inventory counts by scanning bar codes, tapping through a list or using voice recognition. Additionally, the app also allows for more than one employee to take inventory at a time, reducing the amount of time it takes to get done—reports have suggested an up to 75% reduction in time.

Combined with the ability to help automate new orders and perform other tasks, this frees up managers to spend more time on other, less tedious chores, and thus bolsters manager productivity.

The restaurant industry employs 15.3 million workers and is expected to add 1.6 million new jobs in the next 10 years, according to the National Restaurant Association. Although fully automated kitchens using robotics have popped up as tests in a handful of locations, the industry will continue to rely heavily on a human workforce for the foreseeable future. For now, restaurant operators can deploy other automated solutions that can help them drive down their labor costs and operate the back of house more efficiently.

This post is sponsored by TransAct Technologies

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