Increasing Productivity as Payrolls Rise

The person-to-person customer service that has been the norm in the restaurant industry for more than 40 years may get a shake up in 2017, when minimum wage hikes in California and New York begin to be phased into effect.

As part of what is known nationwide as the “Fight for $15” movement, California recently voted to phase in a minimum wage increase to $15 by 2022. New York has agreed to the same increase by 2018. In total, 29 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 per year. And many of the hikes are significant—the California increase alone amounts to a 90% jump over the next nine years. Wage hikes even cover restaurant workers, who have typically supplemented below-average hourlies with tips.

This may be good news for servers, but it’s potentially devastating if you’re a restaurant owner. As restaurants payroll costs go up, threatening to whittle already thin profit margins, Jeff Bobrosky, hospital industry partner at the accounting firm CohnReznick predicts food industry entrepreneurs will consider adding automation just to survive.

So what restaurant roles can be automated? Here are just a few:

Customer orders and billing

Technology that can facilitate smooth, error-free interactions with customers is among the most popular automation option for restaurants, with tableside tablets emerging as an alternative to waiters in some of the nation’s most visited restaurant chains. In 2013, Chili’s and Applebee’s announced they would install 100,000 tableside tablets at their restaurants. The tablets allow customers to order and pay for food without ever interacting with a server. Other chains have followed, including Panera, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Olive Garden. While customers will no doubt still expect personalized customer service, an mPOS product like a tablet can complement a streamlined staff by facilitating immediate orders, answering customer questions, and quickening the payment process.

Labor management and payroll

mPOS systems are fast becoming favorites of managers and owners nationwide for their ability to efficiently and accurately tackle labor management and payroll. Automated labor management allows managers to generate staffing guidelines, create accurate labor forecasts across the business, and measure results all on a mobile device. In addition, payroll mPOS technology makes time-keeping, wage calculation, and deductions quick and easy, and keeps accurate and up-to-the-minute records of who worked when and for how much.

Sales and inventory

Prevent costly overstock and out-of-stock mistakes with an mPOS system that keeps a constant eye on your sales and inventory. Ensure orders are accurate and on-time with a system that syncs with all of your store’s mobile devices and collects data down to the product bar code. And monitor what’s selling fast and what’s lagging behind with easy, intuitive, up-to-date reports that are available to you anywhere, in real-time.

It’s clear that wage increases may be the future, but so is mPOS and the useful efficiencies that come with it. A mobile point-of-sale system might just be the most logical adjustment to a changing landscape. After all, as Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, writes, “if consumers prefer it, or if government-mandated labor-cost increases drive prices too high, the traditional full-service restaurant model, like those old gas stations with the employees swarming over your car, could well become a thing of the past.”

Photo copyright: Sean MacEntee by CC BY 2.0