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From Disruption to Dysfunction: The Silent Struggles of the Restaurant Sector

The restaurant sector finds itself in an economic storm, exposing an uncomfortable truth – something the industry has been reluctant to confront.

In the current climate, it’s tempting to avoid the news, especially with the constant barrage of stories about industry pressures, restaurant closures, and others grappling for survival. Amidst these challenges, the restaurant industry has faced more disruption in recent years than perhaps any other sector, propelled by the pandemic, inflation, and more. However, along with these changes come uncomfortable realities.

While the industry has outwardly embraced change with excitement over new ingredients, recipes, and innovative designs, there’s a silent struggle happening in the background. This pertains to the stubborn issues that often go unnoticed by customers, investors, and analysts – issues related to efficiency, performance, and insight that have been hindering businesses for years and demand attention.

Why this matters now 

Before the crises, some of these issues were tolerated due to good margins, with a primary focus on the customer experience. However, as the tide has gone out, sharp rocks of dysfunction are now exposed. Bars and restaurants are often deeply dysfunctional, a reality that needs acknowledgment and swift resolution, which technology can facilitate.   

Three examples of Dysfunction:

1. Fragmented Processes 

The chasm between front-of-house and back-of-house operations persists, failing to synchronise meaningfully. To enable change, critical datapoints such as stock counts, batch production, wastage, purchases, goods receipting, and transfers must be captured in real-time. This transformation, free of paperwork and spreadsheets, enables establishments to become ultra-responsive, adapting to actual events in the moment. Using modern tech, operators can gain transparency across processes, identifying margin leakages, managing stock levels, overseeing portion sizes, tracking suppliers, and delivering speed and convenience for customers.

2. Manual tasks are bad for business 

Onerous tasks, including inventory counts and stock takes, remain a manual and often neglected part of operations. With modern tech, these routine processes can be streamlined and automated, transitioning from time-consuming chores to swift, seamless interactions. By minimising the time required for these tasks and injecting valuable real-time data into the business, technology not only enhances the team’s experience but also elevates overall operational efficiency.

3. Insights tell the wrong picture 

Many establishments still rely on outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete data, hindering their ability to tackle challenges effectively. Access to accurate insights powered by AI can revolutionise businesses by optimising current operations and predicting future needs with remarkable accuracy. From orders and supplier negotiation to precise kitchen prep plans and staff scheduling, a modern system can handle the thinking and planning, allowing businesses to make informed decisions confidently. These insights, available on demand, provide sales and operational performance figures across a company’s stores, delivered directly to a mobile device in real-time. This not only saves managers’ time but also significantly contributes to revenue growth.

It’s time for a rethink 

In 2024 and beyond, technology needs to become a big part of how restaurants work. But it’s not about losing the unique charm that makes each restaurant special. It’s more about using tech to handle the boring tasks so that restaurants can focus on what they do best. Some restaurants are worried about using complicated technology, but the real need is for a balanced approach. With the right technology, about 80% of the daily tasks can practically run on their own. This way, restaurants can focus on what really matters – making customers happy and staying ahead, no matter what challenges come their way.