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4 smart ways for restaurants to meet consumer demands this summer – Scheduling expert Planday shares on how digitising rotas can help with recruitment and reduce labour costs

It’s shaping up to be a busy summer for restaurants and other hospitality operators in the UK. Those that want to meet the demand have to be ready to adapt to new challenges and ever-evolving customer expectations around service and technology.

Customers are champing at the bit to get back out and take advantage of the long summer evenings. In fact, data from our recent consumer survey shows that 1 in 5 Brits will be dining at a restaurant at least once a week this summer as they catch up with friends, enjoy the warm weather, and help support their favourite establishments.

Not only that, they’re expected to spend £40 each time, which means big business for those restaurants that are able to keep up. 

However, with fewer people working in the industry and more demand from consumers, how can restaurants make sure to capitalise when the sun shines this summer? It starts with upgrading tech, including staff scheduling and service tools.

Here’s how restaurants can make smart upgrades to meet customers’ expectations​, plus other top tips for helping restaurants thrive this summer season and beyond.

1. Digitise rotas and adapt to scheduling conflicts in real-time

We spoke to 2,000 British workers – and it’s not all doom and gloom for the future of careers in hospitality. In fact, many of them can be persuaded to stay in careers in hospitality if simple but effective changes are made to staff scheduling and how it is managed.

Investing in smarter ways of scheduling doesn’t just make restaurant life easier; it’s also better for business. Our consumer survey data tells us that customers are not blind to scheduling conflicts at establishments, and that they feel the effects of shortages just as much as restaurant staff and owners.

How do staffing shortages affect the restaurant experience?

Increased wait times 27%

Less attentive and personalised service 21%

Reduced menu options 19%

Small changes can make a difference in both staff retention and the quality of experience restaurants provide for their customers. And digitising rotas is a great place to start. Restaurants with digital rotas are able to simply scale the shift plan up and down in real-time as demand changes, helping restaurants easily make the most of suddenly-sunny Saturday afternoons, for example.

For Paul Mitchell, founder of Moogies ‘eateries, drinkeries and sleeperies,’ the old paper rota on the wall and the spreadsheet shift planning have simply run out of time.

“You’ve got the challenges of communication and telling people what their rota is. You also have to tell them about any changes, so we needed a tool that helps us easily distribute rotas across multiple venues,” Paul says about why he made the switch to Planday​.

It didn’t take long for Moogies to realise the business benefits of saving time and money, and making fewer errors in the schedule, time-tracking, and payroll. Mitchell says, time saved on scheduling has resulted in savings of around £1,200 a month. Digitised rotas also allow him to reduce the risk of staffing shortages and ensure that customers have all their needs met. It’s a win-win for any restaurants this summer, and an impactful upgrade that will continue to make a difference when the weather starts to cool.

2. Recruit more top talent

The better a restaurant's talent pool, the better its ability to accommodate its customers. Staffing can be a big challenge for businesses in the hospitality industry. Fortunately, there are a lot of innovative ways to stay well-staffed this summer.

A digital platform like Planday​ can help restaurants connect to a network of potential talent by becoming an employer of choice and, once they’re on staff, help restaurants give them the flexibility and information they need to do their jobs well.

“Having Planday in place means that we are able to grow quickly, efficiently, and easily,” says Travis Fish, co-founder of Bababoom, a quickly-expanding Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant chain.

Relying on targeted digital tools for staff sourcing, rather than more traditional methods, deepens the pool of talent restaurants have access to. As a result, venues will have a much easier time connecting with (and keeping) the experienced staff members needed to accommodate the summer rush.

3. Integrate more customer-facing technology

In addition to behind-the-scenes scheduling, payroll, and staffing tools, there are also customer-facing technology solutions that can make people more likely to return to restaurants – and more likely to leave satisfied.

Almost half (46%) of consumer respondents to our survey said that they’d prefer to visit restaurants this summer that have put in the effort to seamlessly integrate technology into their services.

Examples of the types of technology improvements customers are looking for include contactless payments (50%), online bookings (32%), contactless ordering (26%), and contact tipping (19%).

These types of technology-driven services enhance the customer experience and help restaurants get more customers through the door in the first place. They also free up staff to focus on other tasks, particularly things like providing more attentive service to eat-in customers.

4. Streamline labour costs

Operators can use analytics combined with industry-wide data to work out how to staff their restaurant with the highest cost-efficiency. Our consumer survey found that Saturday is the preferred day to eat out at a restaurant, followed by Friday. On Mondays, however, customers prefer to stay home.

Paying attention to trends is key for allocating labour spending wisely. Restaurants can – and should – consider information like this when scheduling staff, keeping in mind that they’ll want to be ready to adapt if there’s ever a change in the pattern.

Of course, customers won’t be privy to labour savings. But they will see first-hand how more informed scheduling affects the flow of the restaurant. Proper staffing on busy days means faster, more personalised service, which is key for those that want to make the most of the summer rush.

Integrating digital tools can increase the amount of impactful information that comes out of a restaurant’s expenditures. “Our revenue is synched from our POS system Lightspeed to Planday over the course of the day, so we can see our ongoing labour costs at the click of a button,” says Jonathan Davies, general manager of Riddle & Finns in Brighton. 

Another of Planday’s restaurant customers, Simon Eaton of the Urban Guild, sees similar benefits, noting that “Planday saves us money on labour because we get tighter and better control of labour costs and a more realistic look at actual labour at the time.”

Start today and get 30 days free

It’s never too late to make the changes that can help your restaurant do well this summer season. Get started with Planday today and be ready for everything summer throws your way. Planday tools ensure that you and your team can focus on what really matters, all while meeting the high expectations of your customers – and your staff.

“Planday has created an even higher level of trust that we are a good employer and treat people well,” says Mitchell, adding that it’s allowed the Moogies Group to reduce the amount of time they spend on their monthly rota by 60%.

Summer might be busier than ever at UK restaurants, but there are plenty of tools that you can use to rise to the occasion. Make this summer your best one yet with Planday and other digital improvements, and experience first-hand how better talent, better schedules, and better use of data can lead to better-served customers. If you’re ready to begin, get in touch to learn how you can get your first 30 days of Planday free. Summer is in full swing, and we’ll make sure that you’re ready to make it a success. 

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