Are You Ready for Robots in Your Restaurant?
We’re all familiar with robots. Just think of the futuristic, Sci-fi movies you’ve watched throughout your life like The Terminator, WALL-E, and The Matrix. But while robots can be entertaining to watch on the big screen, are you ready for them to play an integral part in your restaurant business?
The fact is that restaurants are becoming increasingly automated. (To clarify, when we say robots, we’re actually referring to what’s also called automation technology.) Triggered in part by the recent labor shortage, many restauranteurs are using robots for a variety of purposes: to brew coffee, blend smoothies, reserve tables, check out patrons, and even deliver food orders to tables.
Are you wondering if automation technology might benefit you and your restaurant? Read on to learn more about this interesting (and potentially profitable) trend.
What Are Some of the Advantages of Automation?
There are many different reasons why the restaurant industry is warming up to the use of robots. Perhaps most importantly, they have the potential to improve the customer experience. How? Since robots can execute tasks faster and more accurately than people, their use typically results in shorter wait times and fewer mistakes. (For example, customers tend to respond favorably when restaurants offer automated solutions for placing food delivery orders or making payments.) No matter the type of restaurant you run, these are significant benefits that will translate into happier customers.
What else? Your employees will reap the rewards too. Automation technology can free them up to do more meaningful work. Most robots handle monotonous tasks like flipping hamburgers and slicing, buttering, and toasting the buns or answering simple, repetitive phone inquiries. When your employees no longer need to handle this type of work, they can focus instead on higher-value activities like building customer relationships.
In addition, many automated technologies will sync with your other programs (like the inventory management, POS, and accounting software you use). This can improve the accuracy of your reporting by reducing errors and more easily identifying inconsistencies in your data.
It’s important to recognize that robots can increase efficiency and improve both the customer and employee experiences, ultimately leading to a boost in profits and an enhanced brand. For many restaurants, automation technology has provided them with a competitive edge even in challenging post-Covid economic conditions.
What Are Some Examples of Robots in Restaurants?
Maybe you’re wondering how exactly automation technology is being implemented in the restaurant industry. In many instances, its usage is less dramatic than anticipated. Let’s dive in and take a look at some real-world examples:
Cobots – A term for “advanced robots who work alongside humans,” cobots perform simple and mundane tasks like vending and serving food items. One example is a soda vending machine that takes the order and payment, produces change if necessary, and then gives the soda to the customer. Similarly, nowadays restaurants are using cobots that allow customers to self-place orders, pay for them, and receive their desired food.
This concept has, in fact, more recently evolved into what is called a robot restaurant. At these fully automated eateries, robots alone serve all the food. Robot.he in Shanghai and Spyce in Boston, MA are two examples of this type of restaurant.
Digital Menus – Visually captivating, digital menus grab the attention of customers while displaying menu items in a personalized interface that can be easily updated by restaurant owners.
Employee Training – Save time and money by automating the hiring, onboarding, and training of new employees.
Kiosks – Rather than waiting in line, customers can place their own orders using a machine or kiosk. Panera Bread and McDonalds are two examples of QSRs that provide this automated ordering process to customers.
Marketing – Some automation programs simplify the marketing tasks that accompany running a business. They can be used to schedule social media posts, run remarketing advertisements, send out customer review requests, and more.
Reservations – Eliminate the need for your host to spend tons of time on the phone, confirming and managing reservations. Reservation apps make it easy for patrons to book available tables, share special requests, and confirm their reservations.
Self-Checkout – Speed up the checkout process for your customers by providing them with the ability to make contactless payments (including tips) right from their table.
If you consider yourself old school and not overly tech-savvy, don’t worry. There are lots of ways to introduce and incorporate automation technology into your restaurant that are unintimidating and yet will cut costs, improve the customer experience, and increase your profit. Like the rest of the world, robots are infiltrating the restaurant industry, becoming more and more prevalent, and for good reason given all the advantages they can offer us – no longer are they just regulated to Sci-fi movies and our imagination.