ARLINGTON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As labor shortages and rising costs continue to squeeze profit margins, restaurants are looking for ways to improve their business model – and automation is increasingly emerging as a viable solution. From conversational AI drive-thrus to full-service fry cooking robots, the possibilities are endless, but not all roles can be replaced. Capterra’s 2022 Restaurant Automation Survey found that more than half of restaurant managers say restaurant workers can be easily automated with today’s technology, but some disciplines are irreplaceable right now.
Restaurant managers say that chefs, managers and waiters are irreplaceable
Most restaurants (76%) currently use automation in three or more areas of operation and agree that certain roles are more automatable than others. The roles of front-of-house (FOH) restaurants could be on the brink in the future as most executives believe hosts, baristas and drive-through operators can easily be replaced, and in some cases enhanced, by automation technology.
Executives also agree on which roles are irreplaceable – most say chefs and cooks are the least automatable jobs, followed by managers, waiters and bartenders. Cooking robots are currently very limited in their abilities (e.g. mixing drinks or operating deep fryers). Managers, waiters and bartenders add a personal touch to guest experiences and have unique skills that current robotic solutions do not offer.
Independent restaurants place more emphasis on customer service and food quality
Growing restaurants often have different needs than more established corporate chains. Executive is the least replaceable role for chains, franchises and restaurant groups, but ranks fourth for independent restaurants, behind chefs, waiters and bartenders. This indicates that independent restaurants, particularly table service, place more emphasis on the human touch and quality of food prepared by experienced chefs and FOH staff.
“Restaurant managers are prioritizing the human touch for roles directly involved in the flow of prepared food to customers, while implementing automation for more peripheral roles,” said Molly Burke, senior retail analyst at Capterra.
Automation leads to higher sales in restaurants
Employees and restaurant owners benefit from the automation technology. More than three-quarters of executives say their employees find it easy to use their restaurant’s automation tools, and more than half say sales have increased since implementing the tools. For restaurant owners looking to invest in automation, these are great selling points.
Almost all restaurants (96%) use automation tools in their back-of-house operations today. This includes day-to-day kitchen functions such as inventory management, food preparation, food safety monitoring and ordering capacity, as well as administrative areas such as employee management and performance analysis. FOH automation tools also add value through mobile ordering apps, digital loyalty programs, and online reservation software.
View the full report on Capterra.com for more information on how restaurant managers are embracing automation to support operations, improve customer experience and increase sales.
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