A Look at How Restaurant Tech Is Changing Restaurant Jobs and How To Stay Ahead of the Curve To Provide Stellar Service
It’s hard to write about technology in the restaurant industry without mentioning the pandemic. It was, after all, the catalyst of “The Great Tech Integration” (I just made that up, but it’s accurate).
At the time, using tech meant either success or failure. I can almost guarantee the businesses that survived to see 2023 integrated with at least one restaurant tech platform—more than likely, one that would help them connect with customers while maintaining the strict government regulations of social distancing.
Restaurant operators did what they had to, but once they overcame the learning curve of new tech and the pandemic finally chilled out, it was obvious tech was here to stay and would change restaurant jobs for good.
In this article, we will cover how restaurant tech is changing work in the front of house and back of house, and wrap up with how best to use tech while working.
Let’s dive in.
The Impact of Restaurant Tech on Front-of-House
Front-of-house has seen the biggest changes from tech by far because most of it is customer-focused.
Which, of course, makes sense because:
- The pandemic forced restaurants to use it to reach more customers.
- Tech can make the customer experience way more enjoyable.
A study found that 80% of diners attending a casual restaurant expect and prefer to use technology at some point in their customer journey.
That includes steps like:
- Making a reservation
- Viewing the menu on their phone
- Placing an order
- Making payments
- Leaving a review
So where does that leave servers and other front-of-house staff when restaurant tech takes over these tasks that cost the owners only cents instead of dollars per hour?
With the industry-wide labor shortage, it certainly doesn’t mean FOH employees are losing their jobs.
In fact, it’s probably saving jobs as restaurant owners can afford to stay open because they’re paying for a program to do a job that typically requires a human.
The most significant change for FOH staff is gaining time to focus on in-house customer needs and enhancing the dining experience.
Now, service runs more smoothly because employees have the time to focus on:
- Greeting and seating guests
- Checking on how tables are doing
- Running food and drinks
- Bussing tables and keeping the restaurant clean
- Doing side work
Each of these responsibilities takes only a moment, but they add up over the course of a shift.
Extra time for FOH employees also means guests dining in get a greater customer experience, helping build the restaurant’s brand loyalty and reputation.
Additionally, creating better guest experiences raises the potential to earn consistently good tips, and that’s a change everyone can support.
With restaurant tech integration, FOH workers need to be tech-savvy to some extent—with the ability to navigate various platforms and troubleshoot minor technical issues.
Most of these platforms are designed with the user in mind so operators can hit the ground running, but if you have trouble using a computer, be prepared to spend extra time training.
The Impact of Restaurant Tech on Back-of-House
Restaurant tech focuses heavily on front-of-house and customer experience, but back-of-house also experienced its share of new digital tools.
Usually, when people talk about BOH tech, they immediately want to suggest robots working the line and washing dishes. However, the reality is robots are crazy expensive, and the technology is still too primitive to be of much use to your average restaurant.
But it’s day is coming.
Instead, BOH’s most significant tech tools have been for administrative tasks. Leaders can lean on software programs to track inventory, build schedules, and measure and reduce food waste to spend more time in the kitchen, focusing on why so many customers come to a restaurant…the food.
Line cooks can also enjoy tech because servers or guests can place orders at the table.
Instead of one or two POS stations getting backed up with servers putting in all their orders simultaneously, cooks get tickets in real time, so the first wave of service isn’t a crushing surge of tickets chattering through the machine for a solid couple of hours.
So long as tables are staggered while getting sat, cooks should have a reasonably smooth service.
Best Practices for Employees Using New Technology
Nearly four years have passed since the pandemic began, yet incorporating technology in restaurants continues to be a relatively recent development. Bearing this in mind, here are a few tips when using technology during your shift.
Stay on top of table touches
Extra time to focus on customers, run food, and not get overwhelmed is terrific, but there’s also the potential to begin drifting through service.
While the pressure you once felt to do a million tasks all at once lessens with technology, you can’t fall into the bad habit of thinking you have time to go in the back and shoot the shit with servers while doing side work.
When this happens, the sequence of services starts to fall apart, and guests are left wondering where their server or busser disappeared to.
Those on the floor need to check in with guests and monitor orders, especially if customers prefer a more traditional way of dining—sans QR codes and at-table payments.
Have a positive attitude
Most people are resistant to change in a work setting. It disrupts the typical flow of day-to-day life, but having a good attitude and an open mind can help you implement your new digital tools more quickly.
Technology changes rapidly, and so will the tools you use at work. Stay open to learning and adapting.
If you encounter new software, approach it with curiosity. The more you understand these tools, the more in control you’ll feel.
You’re the one using these tools every day—if something isn’t working, say so.
Your insights as a user of these technologies are invaluable. Don’t hesitate to give feedback to your managers about what’s working and what’s not. Your on-the-ground experience can help improve how technology is used in your workplace.
Embrace the change
By now, we’ve all gotten more familiar with the big changes that shook up our industry back in 2020, but if you’re still not on board, it’s time to reconsider.
Tech is not just a passing trend. You’ll see just how helpful it can be if given a chance. The tools will continue to develop and, in many ways, become more intuitive because developers know that ease of use is a huge selling point.
But here’s the heart of the matter: the reasons we love going out to eat – amazing food, top-notch service, and a fun vibe – those things aren’t going anywhere and require a human touch.
So, while the tools might change, the real spirit of what we do in the restaurant industry stays the same.