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Lifting COVID-19 Restrictions: What Does It Mean for Restaurants?

No vaccine card? No problem. Starting mid-March, major cities across the U.S., including New York and Los Angeles, are lifting their COVID-19 requirements so that patrons in restaurants, bars, gyms and other places indoors no longer need to show proof of vaccination or wear masks. The moves to relax the mandates come at a time when government officials across the nation have been easing COVID-19 guidelines and signaling that the risk of virus spread is retreating—at least for the time being.

The restaurant industry was one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, and for many restaurant operators, merely surviving was nothing short of a miracle. During this time of mass closures, shortened hours and health and safety restrictions, many restaurants turned to automation such as self-ordering kiosks, online ordering and QR codes which provided them with the tools they needed to keep their doors open.

Nevertheless, unemployment in the restaurant industry is still staggeringly high. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the unemployment rate in the leisure and hospitality industry is 8.2%, roughly more than double the rate of the general economy. Moving forward, it will be imperative that restaurants implement self-ordering technology to service the rise in consumer demand as a result of lifted restrictions.

For many restaurant operators, replacing their cashier with a self-service kiosk, such as the Samsung kiosk powered by GRUBBRR, allows them to run their business more efficiently with fewer employees, all while generating additional revenue. Implementing automation to work alongside employees can not only help retain existing restaurant staff, but also repurpose them to other essential functions of the restaurant, thus maximizing labor.

The average cost of a cashier at a quick service restaurant that is open 15 hours per day. With all associated carrying costs, this position will cost more than $6,000 per month. Alternatively, the Samsung kiosk powered by GRUBBRR is a fraction of that price, starting at a one-time cost of $2,500. For restaurants worried about servicing a rise in post-pandemic dining demand, self-ordering technology presents a clear answer, especially for restaurants that are short-staffed.

In addition to being short-staffed, restaurants must also service a change in consumer demand for omnichannel dining. Sam Zietz, CEO of self-ordering technologies company GRUBBRR, said, “It is my opinion that this demand for omnichannel dining, a byproduct of the pandemic, is here to stay. Today’s consumers want to get what they want, how they want, when they want to get it. By maximizing the number of touchpoints consumers can use to access your restaurant, you increase your potential customer base and simultaneously create personalized guest experiences that lead to additional revenue generation.”

Because today’s guests want to get their food in a multitude of ways, restaurants need technology that delivers a consistent consumer experience whether guests want to dine in; order online and pick up their order at the restaurant or curbside; or have the food delivered. Technology, including the Samsung kiosk powered by GRUBBRR, allows businesses to run their restaurant with fewer employees, thus maximizing labor, while simultaneously providing multiple touch points to service consumer demand for omnichannel dining.

Zietz explained that even something as simple as implementing online ordering or integrating with third-party delivery services can significantly boost business. “Consumers spend on average 12% to 20% more when they order with their eyes and with touch from a self-ordering device such as the Samsung kiosk powered by GRUBBRR than when ordering from a cashier,” he says. This is because self-ordering software is designed to customize upsells throughout the order journey, meaning customers are prompted to add extra items to their order.

What’s more, these omnichannel solutions are proven to maximize revenue, decrease operating costs and improve the customer experience. Self-ordering technology minimizes human contact, eliminates ordering errors and allows restaurants to implement integrations such as loyalty programs and discount codes that reward consumers. GRUBBRR’s loyalty integrations provide businesses with an opportunity to capture data intelligence about consumer history, including most recent orders, to execute suggestive selling and communicate more efficiently with the consumer. Implementing kiosks also allows restaurants to streamline efficiency, leading to a reduction in average transaction time.

Though pandemic-related restrictions may be waning, the labor challenges and changes in consumer demand are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. To adapt, restaurants must implement self-ordering technology that meets consumers at the point of sale.

This post is sponsored by Grubbrr