Hospitality is suffering the Brexit blues in staffing – but can technology change that?
Here’s a worrying statistic – a new report on staffing by KPMG for the British Hospitality Association has warned that in just five years’ time the industry will be looking for half a million staff.
Since the Brexit vote, we’re all aware that the number of EU migrant workers has dropped – and it’s likely to get worse as we get closer to the break with Europe.
The drop could be due to an impression abroad that migrant workers are now ‘not welcome’ in the UK. Some say a fall in university admissions of EU students is down to similar reasons.
However, the devaluation of sterling is also a factor – it’s no longer so lucrative to come to Britain to work in restaurants and bars.
We’re not on our own when it comes to suffering this shortage. In the US, hospitality businesses are reporting that a crackdown on migration has created a similar squeeze. Some businesses say there is no longer a pool of labour to fill their vacancies.
In the UK we’re seeing unemployment at its lowest rate since the 1970s, according to the Office for National Statistics, so it’s already becoming a struggle to recruit bar, hotel and restaurant staff.
But the hospitality industry is booming – the lower pound is also making the UK more attractive to tourists. At the moment, more than 7,000 extra hotel rooms are being built in London alone to cater for them all.
So are we already in a crisis?
Hospitality expert Prof. Peter Jones says in his white paper ‘Staffing – the issue of our times’ that the hospitality industry already has the top number of vacancies in any sector as a share of total employment.
He says the KPMG study “concludes that it will be hard to fill the recruitment gap with UK unemployed workers or workers from other sectors.”
“For ‘hard to fill’ read ‘impossible’.”
Prof. Jones calls for a vigorous government response to the situation from a government perspective – but can your café, restaurant or hotel afford to hang around for government initiatives when you need waiters, housekeepers and counter staff?
So can your hospitality business beat the Brexit blues?
We took a look at the tactics being used by several highly successful UK restaurant and hotel businesses to offset staffing issues.
It seems thriving businesses have much in common when it comes to using a hospitality EPOS system to boost efficiency and reduce operating and labour costs down.
We spotted 6 tactics these businesses use:
- Good rostering
- Better customer service
- Mobile ordering devices used tableside
- Fraud detection methods
- Improved stock control
- Informed planning and decision-making
Having the right number of staff on at the right time it tricky. With too few, your customer service is adversely affected; but with too many you are pouring your profits away.
Then you also need to organise holiday cover, and extra staffing for guaranteed busiest periods.
Restaurant EPOS software can provide detailed data showing exactly when you are hectic and when business goes quiet.
This data takes the guessing out of staff rostering, and helps you match labour levels to your genuine requirements, so staffing costs are kept at a minimum without affecting the experience of your guests.
Better customer service
Today’s diners and guests are exceptionally demanding – surveys show the average time they spend in a restaurant is just three quarters of an hour.
Rapid, accurate service is vital if you want to keep these time-starved customers pleased – there’s no time to deliver wrong dishes or delay in serving up delicious food.
Small-plate establishments such as tapas restaurants where customers order multiple dishes find this even more important – diners expect their meal fast.
Jacque Ferreira, Co-Founder and Executive Chef, runs Nottingham and Derby’s Bar Iberico, one of the country’s top tapas restaurant chains.
He says a good restaurant EPOS system is the only way his company manages to serve more than 700 people a day when Bar Iberico is at its busiest.
“It is quite common to hear customers exclaim ‘Wow – that was quick’, referring to the speed the food comes out of the kitchen,” he said.
So how does the kitchen do that? Here’s how:
Mobile ordering devices used tableside
Bar Iberico is like all the successful businesses we looked at, in that his staff make full use of restaurant EPOS software on mobile ordering devices, taking orders and also payments at tableside.
The mobile devices can be dedicated handheld devices, or tablets – even smartphones. Out back in the kitchen, a digital panel shows the order immediately so chefs can start on it.
Jacque said: “The order going straight from the handheld to the kitchen screen ensures a blistering speed of service.”
This is significant when viewed from a labour perspective. Serving staff no longer need to trek back and forth to the kitchen with orders scribbled on bits of paper, which saves time and allows them to spend their valuable efforts dealing with customers.
Fraud detection methods
EPOS also makes sure your business and your customers’ data are better protected. Every transaction is recorded, so it’s harder for staff to indulge in dishonest activities – which protects your bottom line and reputation.
Improved stock control
Another benefit of the data that restaurant EPOS software captures – which also includes real time information about which of your dishes are selling at which times.
That means you can manage your stock control better, highlighting best-sellers and cutting waste. In the kitchen, your staff don’t waste their time cooking dishes that no-one is ordering.
Informed planning and decision-making
When you have detailed information available to view at all times – a cloud solution enables you to check your business online from anywhere with an internet connection – you have what you need to make solid planning decisions.
These are difficult times in the hospitality industry, and may become more so as the Brexit deadline comes closer.
Staff seem likely become more scarce, and the establishments who manage to recruit will be those with an excellent track record for successful operations, offering workers a good working environment.
Jaque Ferreira has sights on opening more Bar Iberico branches around the country, and says he will take his Aloha restaurant EPOS system UK to each of them.
Many hospitality organisations worry about surviving Brexit. But as Bar Iberico is already showing, with good EPOS management, the best will not only survive, but thrive.