Robot front-of-house staff are being trailed in restaurants. But are operators missing the real digital revolution happening within the industry — which could help them to offset soaring costs?
One restaurant group has started trial that will see fully-automated robots chatting with guests, taking orders and delivering dishes to the table and for collection, according to Big Hospitality. It sounds great fun and the move is bound to create a buzz, not least on social media.
But here’s a serious question: What difference would it make to your bar or restaurant if you could use the latest tech to automate up to 80% of your daily routines? How might this help your bottom line at a time when you’re battling with rising food, energy and labour costs?
Across the world, establishments are discovering how Next-Gen restaurant tech can help to transform manual processes into self-driving operations.
Let’s explore how this looks and tastes in practice …
Lost in the fog
At the heart of every digital transformation is the free flow of actionable data.
Traditionally, data hasn’t been something obvious within restaurants. There are the receipts from the till and the spreadsheets in the office. There may be some bolt-on apps too, offering up numbers here and there. But key information is often out of date, unrecorded or absent completely.
Without trustworthy data, people rely on their best judgment and guesswork when making decisions in a host of areas — from knowing how much to order or to prep, to creating staff schedules or deciding whether to expand the business.
Put simply, every ‘data gap’ creates an opportunity for mistakes, extra cost, waste and general inefficiency. Ultimately, it can shut down a business, without the owners truly understanding where it all went wrong.
Data captured in real-time
Next-Gen restaurant tech can solve the data gap by making it extremely easy to capture information from every event across a restaurant’s operations — at the moment when they happen — with a click or a swipe, using intuitive tools. Crucially, the data is captured in real-time.
The best tech will then take this data and instantly use it to inform and guide other processes in the restaurant operation automatically. Here’s an example how processes start to become self-driving:
- Artificial intelligence within the system uses algorithms based on historical data and external events to produce sales forecasts with 95%+ accuracy.
- From these forecasts, the system can recommend staffing levels for weeks ahead, assess stock levels and also generate daily prep plans automatically.
- Based on each day’s sales and wastage, your inventory will update automatically. Stock counts can be augmented by staff following AI-guided checks on handheld devices, which only take minutes. Managers are alerted to any discrepancies instantly.
- When stocks get low, the system can generate and send orders to suppliers automatically, based on updated forecasts and delivery schedules.
- The system will prompt managers when deliveries are expected to arrive. Once managers confirm acceptance on a smartphone, the stock is added automatically to the inventory.
That’s just a flavour of what’s possible. AI-powered tech can make a radical improvement across many areas of restaurant operations. For example:
- Online and mobile orders can be funnelled automatically into the same system as restaurant orders — without any human rekeying required.
- Once orders are received, there’s no need for waiting staff to keep chasing when they’ll be ready. The progress of every dish is shown on screen. And if a dish is running late, then the system will reorder priorities within the kitchen automatically.
- The performance of the kitchen, front-of-house teams and specific shifts are recorded by the system and can feed automatically into a rewards dashboard to motivate staff.
- Managers can check on key performance indicators at the click of a button, 24/7, and in real-time because events are captured as they happen. You can see which dishes are selling, track stock movements and obtain insights right away.
Virtually everything within your business is tracked and measured automatically. And if something significant goes awry, the system catches it for you — and sends you an alert.
More time for customers
Having a robot to hand out the drinks may entertain your customers for a while, but delivering a true digital transformation throughout your operation has sustainable benefits.
In essence, the system covers the bulk of the basics that underpin your business — and will help you to perform at the optimum levels — so you and your team have more time to focus on customers.
Discover more by downloading your copy of Restaurant rethink: How tech can help us to thrive in a new era. This helpful whitepaper explores the challenges faced by the industry as well as the Next-Gen solutions needed to re-imagine and deliver what the market needs now.