In the Face of a Labor Shortage and Rising Food Costs, Restaurant Technology is a Win-Win

Discover how the technologies that help restaurateurs ease the labor shortage and control costs also increase average check size and sales.

People familiar with the current conditions facing restaurateurs know that challenges are coming from multiple sources and directions. Rising food costs and inflation threaten to force price increases or cut into margins. Hiring and staff turnover challenges are causing restaurants to limit service and hours, or close altogether. 

Brands are turning to a range of technologies to overcome these challenges. What’s interesting is that these technologies help restaurateurs tackle labor shortages and increase average check size. And besides benefiting the operator and the guest, they can also improve the work environment for employees, which can lead to higher satisfaction and better retention rates.

Let’s check out what these technologies are, and how they deliver the win-win for restauranteurs.

Kiosks (Both Indoor and Outdoor)

Self-order puts ordering and payment in the hands of the guest. By installing indoor self-order kiosks, one Xenial customer, a large international sandwich chain, reduced staffing requirements by one employee during peak hours. Kiosks are not meant to replace frontline workers, but they can become a manager’s front-of-house right hand. Kiosk orders are inherently ‘accuracy checked’ by the guest, which means the operator avoids returns and food waste.

How kiosks boost sales 

Guests take their time to browse the menu and consider add-ons. Empowered to make their own selections privately, guests avoid prying eyes and ears, and are more likely to select add-ons. Finally, kiosks can be programmed to automatically offer upsells and add-ons. They do this tirelessly, without fail. 

What kiosks can mean for restaurateurs: 

  • Average ticket can increased by 15 to 20%
  • Service times reduced by 20 seconds or more
  • Order accuracy complaints dropped by >400%
  • One Xenial customer had their staff turnover drop to zero percent (you read that right) after implementing Xenial kiosks

Online Ordering with Integrations

Like kiosks, online ordering transfers the ordering and payment tasks to the customer. Online orders are also inherently ‘accuracy checked’ by the guest, which means the operator avoids returns and food waste.

How online ordering boosts sales

Online orders are typically placed on a customer's phone, a device that they are the most familiar and comfortable with. They take time to browse the menu, special offers, and consider upsells at their leisure. Average ticket size is larger, not only for these reasons, but also because people use this channel to order for larger groups such as families or work groups.

What online ordering can mean for restaurateurs:

  • Expands a restaurant’s reach
  • Serves as a ready-made marketing channel
  • Increases ticket size
  • Meets customers where they are (ecommerce/digital ordering savvy)

Recommendations Technologies and Related Emerging Drive-thru tech

Suggestive selling has long been a hallmark of the restaurant and retail segments. With help from advancements in technology and access to more (and more types) of data, today’s QSRs can refine recommendations to impressive degrees. Fine-tuning personalization and suggestive selling benefits both restaurant profits and guest experiences. And while it may not directly help with labor costs and hiring challenges, technology-enabled recommendations happen automatically, time after time, without fail.

How recommendations and drive-thru innovations boost sales

Would you like fries with that? This phrase has come to epitomize quick serve. While humans have long uttered this upsell phrase and others, a host of new tech now combine to automate and improve the sale. A recommendations engine powered by Artificial Intelligence takes into account a multitude of data points to present menu options, offers, and upsells a guest is likely to want. QSRs can use data points such as weather, daypart, items ordered, and even car make and model (when a smart camera vision system is used) to personalize the guest experience. Upsells offered by an ordering automation voice assistant (‘bot’) or a human crew member can also be shown on a drive-thru digital display to further inform and entice the customer. 

What tech-enabled recommendations and drive-thru innovations can do for restaurants:

  • Boost overall sales by 2.5% or more
  • Increase LTO sales by 2% or better
  • Bump up combo meal sales by 2% or more

These are actual results in the drive-thru from a large Xenial QSR customer. Who wouldn’t want results like this, especially when you consider the potential to multiply results across a large multi-unit operation?

Closing Thoughts

Today’s tech gives owners and operators ‘more bang for their buck’ and rapid ROI by solving multiple challenges, including the ones that keep leaders awake at night. Xenial has helped thousands of restaurants delight guests and improve the bottom line. Contact us to discuss your specific needs and how we can help.