Guest Post: How tech could help with summer staff shortages

Guest Post: How tech could help with summer staff shortages

New research by Power EPOS has revealed that search demand for catering and hospitality jobs has fallen by 56% since last year, amid rising concern within the hospitality industry of staff shortages this summer. Richard Goodall, MD of Power EPOS shares some tips with Travolution, on how business owners can utilise tech to potentially ease the pressure of staff shortages over the next few months.

Whilst technology can’t go the full way in replacing staff headcount, for business owners running a restaurant, cafe, bar or catering business - there are ways in which you can ease the pressure and maximise profitability over the next few months.

Google search demand analysis shows that searches for catering and hospitality jobs has fallen by 56% in a year, comparing figures from July 2022.

As establishments struggle to hire, here are my eight tips on how to navigate the potentially troubled waters ahead.  

1. Explore online menu solutions to reduce seating staff 

If waiting staff is in short supply, tech solutions can be used in order to reduce the need for manual order taking. A good EPOS system can help streamline the need for staff taking orders. Utilising either signage with QR codes allows customers to order from their phones and send orders directly to the kitchen can create an accurate, efficient and fast solution to this.

Whilst removing the service element from ordering may not be for every hospitality venue, adopting technology for online menus can help shoulder the burden if you’re understaffed.

2. Track covers and footfall to operate efficiently on reduced headcount

Whilst no day is the same in the hospitality industry, don’t ignore any recent trends in footfall, takings or capacity within your staff. If you know some shifts will be quieter than others, think about how you could run a leaner operation, or reduce your amount of covers to keep overheads down during quieter periods.”

3. Invest in automated reservation reminders

With margins small and each cover important, there is nothing more frustrating than no-shows and last minute cancellations. A cost-effective way to help reduce this is investing in automated reservation reminders, whether by text or email. It reduces the need for staff to manually call to confirm, but allows customers to let you know if they won’t be attending - meaning you can potentially maximise covers with walk-ins.

In certain sectors, you could also start taking deposits to hold a table. It works in the right environments, and data shows it’s shown to reduce no-shows considerably.

4. Run efficient inventory management

Good inventory management is absolutely key to ensuring good efficiency, especially with the cost of food rising. If kitchen and catering staff are struggling to keep on top of inventory management, there are tech solutions that can help. 

Advanced inventory management software can gain real-time insights into stock levels and ingredient usage, allowing owners to prevent wastage, and make informed menu adjustments based on demand patterns, ensuring you are well-prepared despite staff constraints.

5. Take a data-led approach to menu reduction

If you’re looking to try and maximise profit whilst working on a reduced headcount, use recent sales data or tracking from your kitchen EPOS system to spot trends on menu items that have been popular, and less popular in order to see which dishes or services are providing you the most profitable return.

Running a reduced menu temporarily may allow you to work more efficiently with fewer staff, whilst still serving dishes that are going to help with margins during this period.