Restaurant operators lean on tech to address more than labour gaps | QSR Media
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Restaurant operators lean on tech to address more than labour gaps

One in two restaurateurs have said they plan to increase spending on tech and automation.

Understaffing issues have persisted at restaurants with many operators saying it has been 18 months since they were last fully staffed and restaurant owners have used technology and automation to fill the gaps, a report by Square revealed.

According to the Future of Restaurants Report 2024, Square revealed that cafes and other restaurants (40%) rely on tech tools to accept customer orders the most. Fast food restaurants use tech to fill staffing gaps the most for tracking item availability in real-time (37%). Finally, fine dining restaurants see the biggest benefits in staffing gaps the most for managing customer loyalty programs (37%) and managing real-time restaurant capacity (38%).

However, restaurant operators are also finding more uses for AI. The report said that as restaurant owners look to expand, 77% of those surveyed say they’ll experiment in the coming year with non-core offerings like meal kits, subscriptions, events, and more. Restaurateurs say that right now, 19% of their revenue stems from products and services outside of their core restaurant offerings.

“Automation and AI are going to be key growth levers for restaurants in the coming year, though not in the way you may think. The vast majority of restaurants will be integrating AI into their operations in small, iterative ways – not through flashy robots but through automation in marketing or kitchen workflows – and these minor changes will add up to saved time and more profit,” Ming-Tai Huh, General Manager of Square for Restaurants said.

Square said that business owners leverage technology and automation tools to do more for their businesses.

Two out of three restaurant owners say adopting technology and automation tools to decrease their teams’ hands-on time has improved either employee retention or the customer experience. For restaurants that have larger teams, the impact of technology and automation adoption is even greater: 40% of restaurant owners with more than three locations have seen increased profits due to investing in automation.

In the future, 54% of restaurants across regions and restaurant types plan to increase their spending on technology and automation tools over the next 12 months. For the remaining restaurant owners, technology certainly won’t be an afterthought. Restaurants will continue to rely on their current tools and systems to help them reach their goals, 34% of restaurants will maintain their investment in their technology tools. 

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