Arlington, Virginia – (work wire) — As labor shortages and rising costs continue to squeeze profit margins, restaurants are looking for ways to improve their business model — and automation increasingly looks like a viable solution. From conversational AI to full-service cooking robots, the possibilities are endless, but not all roles can be replaced. Capterra’s 2022 Restaurant Automation Survey It found that more than half of restaurant leaders say restaurant workers can easily be automated at home with today’s technology, but some specialties are still not currently replaceable.
Restaurant leaders say chefs, managers and wait staff are irreplaceable
Most restaurants (76%) currently use automation in three or more areas of operation and agree that some roles can be automated more than others. Front of-house (FOH) restaurant roles may be on the cusp of chopping up in the future, as most leaders believe that hosts, baristas, and car operators can easily be replaced and, in some cases, through automation technology.
Leaders also agree on irreplaceable roles – most say cooks and cooks are the least automated jobs, followed by managers, wait staff, and bartenders. Chef robots are currently very limited in their capabilities (for example, mixing drinks or operating deep pans). Managers, wait staff, and bartenders add a personal touch to diners’ experiences and take on a unique skill set not provided by current robotic solutions.
Independent restaurants focus more on customer service and food quality
Growing restaurants often have different needs than more established chains of companies. The administrative staff is the least interchangeable role for chains, franchises, and restaurant groups, but ranks fourth in independent restaurants, after chefs, wait staff, and bartenders. This indicates that independent restaurants, particularly table service, are placing more emphasis on the human touch and the quality of food produced by capable chefs and FOH staff.
“Restaurant leaders prioritize the human touch for roles that are directly involved in the flow of prepared food to customers, while implementing automation for more marginal roles,” says Molly Burke, senior retail analyst at Capterra.
Automation leads to increased revenue in restaurants
Employees and restaurant owners benefit from automation technology. More than three-quarters of leaders say their employees find it easy to use their restaurant automation tools, and more than half say revenue has increased since the tools were implemented. For restaurateurs looking to invest in automation, these are great selling points.
Almost all restaurants today (96%) use automation tools in their internal operations. This includes day-to-day kitchen functions such as inventory management, food preparation, food safety control, and ordering capacity, as well as administrative areas such as employee management and performance analytics. FOH’s automation tools also provide value through mobile ordering apps, digital loyalty programs, and online reservation programs.
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