How AI, mobile POS, more can shore up staff shortages

Artificial intelligence, unified cloud technology, mobile payment programs and more can enhance an employee’s performance and, ultimately, a diner’s experience.

With a positive start to employment rates in the new year, restaurants could be seeing a rise in hires at their businesses.

The January jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed promise for 2023, with more than 500,000 non-farm payrolls added across various industries. The leisure and hospitality field led all sectors with an increase of 128,000 jobs, and retail increased by 30,000 jobs. Overall, unemployment dipped to 3.4%, its lowest level since 1969, according to the report.

This is a great way to start a new year, but getting more staff help inside pizza chains and QSR businesses doesn’t mean companies should slow down on seeking support from technology. If anything, there are innovative technologies that businesses can use to help to boost staff retention, entice new hires and operate an enhanced dining experience for consumers overall.

Technology that meets the needs of all staff

Whether it’s supporting staff in the front of the restaurant or in the back of the kitchen, artificial intelligence, unified cloud technology, mobile payment programs and more can enhance an employee’s performance and, ultimately, a diner’s experience.

Let’s look specifically at how a regional pizza chain can leverage technologies that support staff and also greatly improve the operational efficiency of the restaurant. These businesses are in a position to elevate the overall dining experience in many ways, and they can increase revenue and sales through a leaner, streamlined operational strategy.

Here are areas where businesses can lean into technology to support staff and the business.

Mobile payment speeds up transactions

The most tangible example of technology assisting staff inside a pizza chain or other QSR businesses is setting up simple payment programs at a kiosk or right at the table through the mobile phone.

Integrating a self-checkout option at a kiosk or over a mobile phone, especially linked to a customer’s loyalty program to instantly factor in rewards, is an option that delights certain customers looking for more control in how they pay. It also takes the burden from staff entirely. Even better, restaurants gain insights and direct data into customer behavior, not needing to rely on third-party data sources.

For a more advanced option, businesses can integrate a mobile POS platform that enables staff to handle payment right there at the table. It removes the clog of servers standing by a single register to log in orders, and tickets are handled at the table with the customers, adding transparency and face-to-face engagement.

Personalization can make customers feel recognized

AI and machine learning is a powerful tool for QSRs and pizza chains, providing a way to learn more about their customers and create a meaningful, personalized experience.

A business can leverage this through mobile orders for pizza delivery, deploying AI to automatically recommend products based on a customer’s previous transaction history, loyalty program information, location data and many other integrated data points.

Inside a location, customers can receive custom content at a self-service kiosk or via table-side mobile ordering. The AI can suggest toppings for a pizza, recommend an appetizer or beverage, and even connect them to a loyalty program to meet a rewards milestone or gain access to exclusive promotions.

The AI knows the customer well and makes them feel recognized, easing some of the work staff and servers might need to perform table side. The information can also be used by staff to help connect personally with the customers.

Again, for a more advanced option, a grab-and-go scenario can empower a chain to have pizzas sitting in a warmer and have a customer synced up via the mobile app walk in, find a pizza recommended for them, unlock it with a code, grab it and go. Payment occurs automatically through smart shelves, smart cameras and mobile intelligence.

Inventory done right

To help kitchen staff and the pizza chain to operate at optimal levels, cloud-based platforms and innovations can automate inventory management, monitoring the use of ingredients and stock levels of products such as packaged beverages. The insights free up the manual tasks it takes to track inventory and stock, empowering staff to be more front-facing with customers in the restaurant.

Kitchen staff can also operate more efficiently when the stock and items are optimized. QSRs are about being quick, managing a high volume of orders so inventory can be a challenge to monitor.

Keep the momentum going

It’s a pivotal time for QSRs, as they look to retain staff and add new staff to grow operations. AI, mobile payment and back-end solutions can play a part in supporting staff, especially during tight times.

No doubt, happy customers make work easier for staff, and personalization can make customers feel seen and appreciated. Easier payment options get customers moving quicker, tables filled faster and supply the business with additional customer data to keep on improving.

QSRs and pizza chains have an opportunity to keep the momentum going throughout the year with strong technology platforms that assist staff and ensure memorable dining experiences and personalized, efficient delivery and pickup orders.

Michael Jaszczyk is CEO of GK Americas, where he works to maintain and enhance the company’s global reputation as the supplier of one of the most innovative and complete retail software platforms and suite of services.

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