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Streamlining Restaurant Operations: How to Automate Your Processes and Save Time

Streamlining Restaurant Operations: How to Automate Your Processes and Save Time
Table of Contents

Executive summary

  • Automation speeds up food preparation, improves customer experiences, nurtures customer relationships, and more.
  • Restaurants can benefit from using automation technology in the front-of-house, kitchen, and even for managerial tasks like staffing.
  • Using automation tools for data collection and analytics helps you identify sales and inventory trends so you can stay ahead of the curve and adjust accordingly.
  • Automated equipment in the kitchen makes multitasking easier and improves food production speeds, enhancing the customer experience.

Efficiency is the goal of every restaurant, but achieving true efficiency sometimes feels impossible with the many responsibilities of running a restaurant. On the bright side, continuous advancements in technology help take some of the weight off managers’ shoulders.

Restaurant automation software is a powerful way to improve your operations and take stress off staff, all while saving time and boosting efficiency. Better efficiency means speedier service and an improved customer experience, which brings more customers and, of course, more revenue.

Knowing which automation tools to use and how to leverage them will set your business apart from the competition. This guide highlights some of the many time-saving restaurant management tools you can incorporate into your operations for improved efficiency.


Implementing restaurant automation software

Running a restaurant comes with a long list of moving parts. Restaurant automation software includes a wide range of technology that can take some of those off your plate so you and your staff can handle other tasks, serve your customers faster, and keep them coming back for more.


Streamlining ordering processes

You can take advantage of automation right from the ordering process, creating a noticeably smoother experience for customers and staff. Using QR codes and digital menus speeds up the ordering process and gives your staff time to serve others while guests decide on what they want to order.

Many digital ordering tools integrate with point-of-sale (POS) systems, so the order goes straight to the kitchen for staff to begin preparing. These tools also save staff time cleaning and organizing physical menus, as guests access digital menus straight from their personal devices.

Restaurant kiosks and tableside tablets are becoming increasingly common. Kiosks can be a resource for many restaurants to let customers order while staff focuses on other aspects of the guest experience.


Efficient inventory management

Walking around with a clipboard takes time and effort, and keeping accurate information around your inventory is challenging. Fortunately, inventory management software can streamline reporting and updating information. 

Inventory management software can:

  • Track inventory levels as food is ordered
  • Save time and eliminate human error
  • Highlight when products need to be restocked
  • Forecast which products may be needed later
  • Track food waste
  • Calculate profitability


Staff scheduling simplified

Automation can not only save time for customers, but it also simplifies administrative tasks like staffing and scheduling. Automated scheduling tools can be used to schedule employees based on their availability and shift types.

Other tools can connect you with staff on a freelance basis to fill open shifts as they arise. For example, Qwick enables you to post open shifts and connect with qualified professionals to fill them as soon as same day. 

Qwick also lets you automate this process by posting repeating weekly shifts.

With this feature, you can take a “set it and forget it” approach to staffing, streamlining the process of filling a consistent shift need. Professionals have the option to pick up the shift if it fits their schedule, and managers maintain peace of mind knowing they can expect qualified talent to come in and perform a job well done.


Streamline your staffing.

Automation makes staffing simpler. By posting repeating shifts with Qwick, you can connect with top talent to fill open shifts weekly without a second thought.



Utilizing time-saving restaurant management tools

Serving customers is only part of running a restaurant—managing the other operational tasks is a separate challenge. Fortunately, automation tools can help with these tasks, too.


Digital tools for online ordering

Online ordering offers benefits for both customers and restaurants, allowing customers to explore the menu and set a time to receive their food while relieving restaurant staff of the need to field orders over the phone.

Direct delivery tools also allow you to avoid the commission fees and competition of third-party platforms while making the ordering process more convenient for customers. With a direct ordering system, you can use delivery integrations or allow customers to pick-up in-restaurant.

Common user-friendly platforms include:

  • Toast
  • ChowNow
  • CAKE
  • Upserve


Contactless payments and tableside ordering

Tablets and smart devices bring several processes straight to the table, allowing customers to handle order and pay either from a tableside tablet or their phones. Tableside ordering enables customers to browse the menu and order directly through their phone instead of a server.

Similarly, contactless payments allow customers to take care of their payments on their own, either at the counter after ordering or at the table after eating, depending on the style of the restaurant. Meanwhile, the server can get a head start on preparing the order or assist other parties.

Each of these takes stress off your servers and allows them to focus on seating and addressing customer concerns and questions. Meanwhile, customers enjoy shorter wait times and an improved experience.


Virtual waitlists and reservations

One of the simplest processes to automate is the reservation process. Online waitlist and reservation tools optimize table turnover and take weight off your staff having to field phone calls and manage a list or chart. Instead, customers book a table online, arrive at the restaurant, and all the host has to do is find the already confirmed reservation.

A waitlist management system can also give guests an estimated wait time and communicate with them via text message so they can determine when they should arrive for their table. These systems provide transparency for customers, prevent them from clogging up the waiting area, and allow hosts to manage other important tasks instead of consistently updating waiting guests.


Customer relationship management (CRM) systems

CRM systems help keep the relationship between customers and the restaurant strong. With just a customer email or phone number, CRM systems are able to automate outreach to customers. 

Whether it’s marketing new menu rollouts or reaching out to customers who haven’t stopped by in a while, CRM systems keep customers engaged with your restaurant. By reaching out to your consumers with email campaigns and keeping your restaurant top-of-mind, these systems save your business time by handling a large portion of the marketing for you.

CRM systems play a significant role in loyalty programs and can personalize marketing offers to your guests based on their favorite menu items. The personalization makes guests feel special and gets them even more engaged. All together, these systems can get customers in the door with little effort needed on your part.


Leveraging data analytics for data-driven decisions

Data is a guiding light for restaurants, allowing them to adapt to daily demand, changing customer preferences, and more. By knowing how to leverage data and using automation tools that collect it, you can improve your operations and make decisions that save time, money, and stress.


Collecting and analyzing data

Collecting and analyzing your data gives you valuable insights about preparing staff, building your menu, and identifying sales trends. Automation tools make data collection easier.

Some helpful data for restaurants to gather includes:

  • Customer preferences
  • Sales trends
  • Peak business hours
  • Inventory usage and food waste

These data points enable you to better serve your customers by knowing which menu items to have ready, how often to restock your inventory, when to have the most staff scheduled, and when to lighten your staff load.

Automation tools help you gather accurate and reliable data. For example, POS and online ordering software can tell you what times the bulk of the orders come in and how many orders there are. Meanwhile, inventory collection tools allow you to identify trends in inventory usage to understand menu item popularity and waste.


Making informed business decisions

Data insights are crucial for informed decision-making in a restaurant. Data can help you optimize your menu, adjust your pricing, and make other important operations decisions.

For example, if you see that a menu item is not very popular, you may save money by removing it from the menu and eliminating time-consuming prep work. Data like inventory pricing can also help you determine if you need to change menu prices to maintain profitability.

By using data-based decision-making, each of your business decisions is grounded in evidence, and you can adjust operations based on real-life feedback.


Forecasting and predictive analytics

Forecasting and predictive analytics tools use in-house and industry-wide data to predict how your restaurant will perform in the future so you can prepare. The POS system offers one of the most foundational forms of predictive analytics, as it tracks sale data and menu item popularity.

Forecasting tools keep track of factors like industry trends, peak business hours, and your inventory to provide insight into how you should respond in the future. Some tools even highlight how often you need to order new stock based on trends. These insights all help you stay ahead of the curve and ensure you have the inventory and staff on hand to create a positive customer experience.


Embrace automation for your staffing needs.

With Qwick, you can fill shifts as soon as same day, or automate staffing by setting weekly repeating shifts with ease.



Integrating automation into the kitchen for efficiency

As helpful as automation can be in improving front-of-house and overhead operations, it can also serve a valuable role in the kitchen. The right automation tools can boost kitchen staff efficiency and empower your team to serve customers faster.


Kitchen display systems

Kitchen display systems (KDS) are an automated ticket system that displays orders for the kitchen staff. When a customer places an order online or through the POS, that order comes straight through to the kitchen so that they can begin preparing it. 

These systems speed up production and minimize the risk of mistakes and waste by displaying the menu items, substitutions, and any allergens. There is also no managing any physical tickets, allowing the whole staff to keep their focus on preparing the food for the customer and not organizing tickets onto the line.


Inventory tracking and reordering

Inventory tracking software automatically tracks which ingredients you have on hand and which you might need to order soon. This software can send notifications to your staff when an item is running low—some systems can even order new inventory for you when stock starts to dwindle.

You can integrate your inventory tracking with your POS or KDS to streamline the reordering process. The system automatically tracks which items are ordered and which items are used, informing you when it’s time to order new stock.


Embrace automation by staffing with Qwick.

Automating restaurant processes offers several key benefits, like increasing operational efficiency, reducing errors in the kitchen, and improving the customer experience. Restaurants don’t need to implement all of these features to improve their efficiency, even incorporating a few of these tips can improve your ability to serve customers and keep your business ahead of the curve.

Automation is a helpful tool in the restaurant business, but you can’t replace the importance of the human touch. When you use Qwick’s hospitality staffing platform, you can have both. Qwick uses the power of technology to connect you with highly skilled freelance talent to fill open shifts and adapt to your staffing needs. By posting a shift to our platform, you can conveniently connect with top talent as soon as same day or fill shifts in response to demand.

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Kitchen staff posing

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