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Culture: why it’s important and the key role technology can play to forge it

By Nicholas Brown

- Last updated on GMT

Culture: why it’s important and the key role technology can play to forge it QSR Automations

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QSR Automations’ Nicholas Brown on why culture should not take a back seat to sales, profits, product development, growth and scale.

Peter Drucker (1909 - 2005) was a legendary management consultant and writer and one of the most widely-known and influential thinkers on management. Today, his work continues to be used by managers worldwide. He is famously quoted as saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” To be clear, Drucker didn’t see strategy as unimportant, what he meant was a powerful and empowering culture was an assured route to business success. 

We all know the saying a business is only as good as its people. The best leaders in the world understand the single most precious resource for any growing organisation, regardless of size and industry, is remarkably talented people. However, culture often takes a back seat to sales, profits, product development, growth and scale, with far too many leaders believing you can ignore it or indeed outsource it. Culture is the environment you create to attract and retain great talent, a bar for what’s possible in your business and a promise to your customers on the types of people they can expect to engage with when doing business with you. 

So, why at this time should the hospitality industry be turning its full attention to its workplace culture and what significant role can technology play? Let’s firstly look at the facts. On 16 May 2023, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) issued its latest labour market figures for the period (January 2023 - March 2023). Vacancies in hospitality fell by 22% over the last year and by 9% in the last quarter. Sadly, vacancies in the sector remain at 132,000, which is still 48% higher than pre-Covid levels. 

On the figures, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality said: “The drop in hospitality vacancies we have seen over the past year is testament to the huge effort the sector is putting in to develop our own talent and help people back into the labour market, such as investing in skills and creating more flexible working patterns. While a 22% drop over the past year is significant, it remains the case that vacancies remain stubbornly high and way in excess of pre-Covid levels.”

In the current economic climate, if you asked every CEO across the industry what keeps you awake at night, in their top three you’d likely find attracting and retaining talent. Burnout, stress and general unhappiness are often cited by employees in hospitality as a reason to leave the industry. 

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If we look at where we can alleviate the pressure points by using technology across back-of-house, there are some really quick and easy solutions operators can implement:

  • Remove human error and its inevitable stress. By utilising tagging capabilities to label items which have been prepped or bagged for orders, operators can also cut waste, which in turn reduces the margin of error. 
  • Implement product projection and forecasting technology to increase speed of service. The technology reminds chefs what to cook, when to cook it, and how much to make of each item, while tracking usage to maintain product quality. 
  • Reduce friction between front and back-of-house teams by introducing order accuracy and delivery timing technology. The result is better communication between teams, as everyone can clearly see when a dish will be coming to the pass and fewer customer complaints. 
  • Introduce advanced recipe training technology for new and existing chefs. This is especially ideal for new chefs, seamlessly supporting them on their training journey. At a glance, it will inform them of the recipes they should be using, ingredient quantities, cooking methods with timings and allergen information - even going as far as showing them how to plate a dish.

It’s not only back-of-house teams who can reap the benefits of intelligent technology to ensure a stress free shift. Here are our top recommendations: 

  • Introduce technology which can seamlessly and efficiently manage your restaurant floor. This not only empowers and reduces stress for front-of-house teams, but most importantly, gives them clear and live insight into your restaurant’s capacity. Customer expectations are also met, together with an increased dining experience, as they’re able to be given accurate wait times as to when a table will become available. 
  • Introduce technology which provides your teams with immediate visibility on the status of every table in your restaurant. This ensures they instantly know when a table needs to be cleared and ready for the next guest, reducing the time a table sits empty, which in turn increases sales through increased table turns. 
  • Put the power of data into the hands of your teams. Implement technology which gives them access to real-time restaurant analytics. By doing so, not only can you as an operator identify trends in your restaurant, but also empower your team to provide your diners, delivery and online ordering customers with up-to-the-minute order status updates. 

A defined, transparent culture which at its core has an employee’s best interests at heart should be an absolute priority for all hospitality operators looking to attract and retain great talent. Alleviating stress equates to a happy team. A happy team means happy customers and happy customers equate to repeat business and increased revenue. Technology’s role is simply to give you, as an operator, a helping hand to ensure this happens.

Nicholas Brown is a director of business development EMEA at QSR Automations.​ 

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