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Optimizing labor costs in the takeout and delivery era

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Photograph courtesy of CrunchTime! Information Systems

As a back-of-house food and labor operations platform provider for more than 150 restaurant brands and 30,000 locations around the world, CrunchTime! Information Systems speaks with operators about their business challenges every day. Lately, many conversations have circled around the labor challenges posed by the rapid growth of off-premise take-out and delivery.

As consumers increasingly opt for delivery or takeout as an alternative to sitting down to dine within the restaurant, how does that impact labor operations?

Restaurant operators might think that the rise of off-premise solves labor challenges. Fewer people are choosing to eat at restaurants, which means there’s less of a need for waitstaff, hosts and maintenance workers. If on-premise dining demand lessens, labor challenges should dissipate too, right? Not exactly.    

If on-premise dining demand lessens, labor challenges should dissipate, too, right? Not exactly.    

What off-premise really means for on-site labor management

Just because fewer people are dining within the four walls of the restaurant, that doesn’t alleviate labor challenges. Instead, it adds a layer of complexity to labor operations. Common labor challenges brought on by the rise in off-premise dining include unconventional shifts and complex data management, so it’s important to take a look at both.

Unconventional shifts

The off-premise shift has changed the way guests engage with their favorite restaurants—not just where they eat, but when they eat. According to market research firm NPD Research, despite delivery’s massive growth over the past couple of years, it has stayed flat during dinnertime.

“Consumers are so accustomed to ordering delivery that they are ordering it at breakfast and lunch in addition to dinner,” the report says.

If guests are ordering from a restaurant at abnormal times of day, how does that impact sales forecasts? How do operators ensure each shift is properly staffed, when certain shifts are seeing radical changes in business volume? These are new areas of concern to think about.

Complex data management

There are more ways than ever to facilitate a delivery order. Online ordering has become the most prominent method, and that process is split between different devices and platforms.

Accurate sales data is critical to optimizing shift schedules. After all, most people have, at one time or another, sat at a restaurant that seemed empty, but waited an inordinate amount of time for their meal, right? That happens because shift schedules aren’t optimized to the type of dining traffic the restaurant is getting.

The solution

Restaurants can overcome both labor and off-premise challenges by leveraging technology that can seamlessly capture and analyze data from multiple sources and provide real-time insights into labor scheduling effectiveness. It’s understandable that a paradigm shift as seismic as off-premise throws restaurant operations into a state of disarray, but there’s no reason to stay there.

Data is a restaurant operator’s greatest ally and those with the means to capitalize on their information can overcome challenges brought on by shifts in labor or guest preferences. A labor management solution that integrates with a variety of diverse data sources can improve the accuracy of sales forecasts. A system that provides real-time business insights like earned hours can help operators ensure their shifts are staffed with the right amount of people with the right skillsets at the right times.

Ultimately, restaurants can’t afford the cost of overstaffing or the reputational hit of understaffing. The off-premise dining shift does complicate matters and increases the risk of both. The right technology will alleviate those risks by getting in front of the challenge.

Want to know more? Visit us to learn how to leverage technology to optimize labor costs.

This post is sponsored by CrunchTime! Information Systems

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