Labour Crunch forces a re-think of traditional service models

Covid 19 has accelerated the next great challenge that the hospitality industry must face, a tightening and more costly labour market.


Starting in 2019, before we had any inkling of what the pandemic would bring, it was already becoming apparent that the food service and hospitality market was going to have to rethink their service models. Staffing was already becoming a problem due to demographic shifts and wages were going up faster than market prices could adjust for.


It was in that environment that the need for labour saving technology became apparent and developers like SwypePOS identified ways to help restaurants leverage their POS and the power of the smart phone to allow customers to order and pay using their personal device.


Then along came the global pandemic and within several months, the whole service landscape was changed. Ordering online for pick-up or delivery became a necessity for survival and the limited service inside had to be handled with reduced shared touchpoints and skeleton staffing levels. Adoption rates of these technologies from POS providers that could offer them have been phenomenal.


The QR code, that was thought have become a relic like the CD, is now ubiquitous with self-ordering and pick-up. Guests have adapted to the new technologies and now have come to expect them and the convenience and control that they give.


Now, coming out of covid, we face the stark reality that many of the servers and staff we had expected will not be back and never be back. So we have to rethink the whole service process to see how we can use technology and still provide a memorable guest experience.


In a table service environment, self-ordering allows a guest use their phone to start browsing menu choices as soon as they sit down (or even before). A table specific QR code allows one server to monitor and manage the orders of many tables. With self-ordering technology in place, the servers we do have can focus more adding value to the dining experience, as opposed to just the logistics of ordering and collecting payment. Payment can also be done by the customer; they scan a QR code on the bottom of their bill, review the bill details on screen and pay using their credit card or mobile payment app. If we do all this right, each server (we should probably change the name of the position) will generate more sales and in fact earn higher tips. We can make the servers job more lucrative and satisfying, which will lead to better retention.


While change can be challenging, embracing these new techniques in streamlining ordering can help ensure a bright future for our industry, whatever comes next.