Restaurant operators in the United States have one thing on their minds: Labor. Low unemployment rates, immigration restrictions, changes to overtime pay and rising minimum wages have made it hard to hire great staff.
Retaining good employees is the biggest challenge for 80% of operators, according to Technomic’s May 2019 Foodservice State of the Industry report. Recruitment’s a close second, with 76% naming it as a problem.
One solution to this persistent challenge is investing in equipment upgrades — not to replace the staff you don’t have, but to assist the staff you do have.
Industry experts point to AI and automation as the future of foodservice (You saw the pizza-making robot at the Consumer Electronics Show, right?) Not only will technology reduce the number of employees needed, they say, but it will improve job satisfaction and retention by reducing time spent on mundane tasks and redirecting employees’ efforts to customer service.
We’re not there yet. For robotics and automation, “overall adoption has been low, especially among large operations that have more difficulty rolling out systems to automate tasks,” Restaurant Dive reports.
Simply put, “I’m not sure a robotic arm flipping burgers is going to help us right now,” Dirk Noteboom, president of culinary for healthcare specialist management company HHS, tells Food Management magazine. So what will help? Investing in innovative equipment can make employees’ lives easier by solving their challenges, such as:
The “hurry up and wait” problem: When the restaurant is busy and the shift is short-staffed, the last thing operators want is employees just standing around. But sometimes, employees have no choice: They have to wait for a motor to cool down, or a cleaning cycle to finish, before they can continue their task.
Kitchen equipment from Hamilton Beach Commercial is designed for maximum efficiency and durability, reducing or eliminating downtime. Take the Quantum 950 High-Performance Blender, for instance: Equipped with brushless Endura™ Motor Technology, the Quantum 950 includes a temperature gauge with alerts to prevent overheating, as well as a rapid cool-down cycle. But you may never need it; we’ve had a Quantum 950 blending 24/7 in our headquarters since July 2018, and it hasn’t overheated yet.
The “only two hands” problem: Even your best workers can only do so many things at once. Consider investing in equipment that helps employees multitask when you’re short-staffed. With programmable blending cycles and self-rinsing capabilities, the SmartServe™ Blend in Cup automated drink mixer is a prime example.
We’ve had operators and restaurant managers tell us that, while the hands-free mixer is useful during busy periods, it’s most valuable to them during slow periods, when fewer employees are working. With the help of the Blend in Cup, a single team member can take orders, blend more than a drink per minute, serve customers and keep everything spotlessly clean.
The “endless mess” problem: Customers increasingly demand drinks made to order, but that’s a labor-intensive process — especially when you consider clean-up time. otto™ the Juice Extractor, a centrifugal juicer designed for single-serve juicing, was designed so that its stainless steel juice bowl and strainer basket can be easily removed for rapid cleaning and sanitizing.
The “which button do I press?” problem: Software company 7shifts surveyed nearly 2,000 foodservice professionals to find out which factors had the biggest impact on their job satisfaction. The answers: training, workplace technology, communication, positive recognition, management, and coworkers. All these factors come into play when a new employee is learning his or her way around the kitchen. Training should be simple, equipment controls should be intuitive, and technology should make it easy for staff to succeed.
Everything Hamilton Beach Commercial makes, from culinary blenders to rice cookers, is designed to be simple to use, regardless of an operator’s culinary experience. We provide an extensive library of training videos that show how to use, clean and maintain our equipment, so new hires can get up to speed in no time.
Which pieces of equipment have helped you run your operations efficiently? Tell us about it, and we may feature your business in an upcoming post.