Technology is now a fundamental part of everyday life. From endless information to automation, we see the benefits everywhere we look. But, not only has it enriched our personal lives, it’s also changed the way that businesses operate. Quick-Service- Restaurants and Fast Casual Restaurants in particular now rely heavily on restaurant technology to streamline operations, automate manual tasks and offset rising labor costs.
Restaurants have been facing rising costs along with most businesses. But according to a recent Consumer Price Index, the cost of dining out has been growing five times faster than inflation. A sign that operators are already passing rising costs onto consumers.
Of all the rising costs facing restaurant operators in 2017, few are quite as potent as wage inflation. Because, for an industry where labor costs account for about 30 percent of total revenue, any increase (no matter how small) has a significant impact on the bottom line.
Shake Shack outgoing CFO Jeff Uttz said recently that labor costs “will be a big challenge for restaurant companies” for the foreseeable future. Widespread increases to minimum wage across the US and the introduction of the National Living Wage in the UK have hit the restaurant industry hard.
Over 4.3 million low-wage workers across the US have already benefited from minimum wage increases this year. This large number translates to a rapidly increasing operating cost for restaurants.
Add to this the rising cost of commodities, increased competition and more cautious consumer spending habits and it’s easy to see why QSRs and Fast Casual restaurants alike are continually looking for new ways to “beef up” their paper-thin margins.
For many of these companies, the answer of course lies in restaurant technology.
Restaurant Chain Chili’s for example, installed more than 50,000 tablets across their locations to help their employees work more efficiently. Fast Casual Chipotle, have implemented online ordering via mobile apps to reduce long lines instore. While McDonald’s have started to rollout automated ordering kiosks to replace manned checkouts.
In theory, these innovations allow restaurants to expedite processes in the front of house by automating manual tasks. In practice though, it often leads to a reliance on self-service technology as a tool for offsetting higher labor costs. This places a higher burden on customers and in many instances can actually damage the customer experience.
Instead, by automating back-office tasks restaurants can drive efficiency whilst protecting service levels. In the age of the customer experience this can be a big competitive advantage.
Despite the rise of alternative payment methods, when consumers eat out it’s often more convenient to pay in cash. This means that restaurants are often cash heavy environments.
Managing this cash takes time – a lot of it. Between reconciling cash drawers, preparing banking deposits and managing the cash in the safe, a large amount of employees’ time is spent in the back office managing the business’s cash.
That’s why a large number of restaurants are now implementing cash management technology in their locations. Fast Casual chain Panda Express recently rolled out Tellermate Cash Counters across their restaurants to reduce the time spent reconciling cash drawers and to reduce the labor costs associated with this. Panda Express’s Director of Audit said that “The labor and time savings for our cashiers and managers has resulted in direct cost savings for our company”.
In the front of house, Intelligent Cash Drawers (often called Smart Cash Drawers) can also be implemented to expedite shift changes, monitor change levels and alert cashiers if the incorrect change has been given to reduce the time customers wait in line.
Not only do restaurants save time when they implement cash management technology, but they also reduce cash loss – and that makes a big difference to the bottom line.
From Intelligent Cash Drawers to cash counters, to smart safes; restaurants that use cash management technology save time and money whilst simultaneously enabling employees to spend more time with customers. This makes cash management technology the obvious addition for restaurants looking to offset rising operational costs and enhance the customer experience.