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QSR automation: 4 ways to automate restaurant operations


As you know, many QSRs use various forms of automation to save money, increase efficiency and improve customer experience. Yet as new technology continues to emerge, the opportunities presented by mobile apps, self-ordering kiosks, and other tech tools will only continue to expand. Saving money, streamlining operations, and eliminating error and loss is everyone's goal, and now more tools are in place to make sure we reach those standards. QSR automation just keeps getting better.

1. Self-ordering kiosks

Self-ordering kiosks are quickly becoming part of the QSR picture. Clearly, they can reduce labor costs by both replacing some and shortening the order time. Additionally, this technology can gather information to assist an operator in understanding their guests, leading to increased customer satisfaction. On top of that, human error is reduced because communication and language barriers are diminished, and kiosks are proving to be convenient and easy to use, ideal for the growing millennial generation.

Although automation entered the McDonald's empire a little slowly, the company plans to push their efforts to add self-ordering kiosks and mobile app ordering/payment at 20,000 restaurants. Some other QSRs are even adding artificial intelligence to their lists of automation tools. For example, CaliBurgers' Pasadena location added an artificial intelligence-driven robot called Flippy, which can cook burgers and put them on buns. If all goes well, Flippy will be deployed in 50 restaurants by December of 2019.

2. Mobile apps

When it comes to serving customers well, feeding them when and where they want, and increasing sales by using coupons and vouchers, mobile apps have what it takes to make customers engage and become recurring visitors.

For example, Domino's Pizza offers app orders and payment systems. An intelligent virtual assistant takes orders quickly, naturally, and even in an entertaining manner. Taco Bell has an AI robot, as well. The TacoBot takes orders, answers questions, and speaks English.

3. Scheduling/shift tracking

QSRs thrive on efficiency. Efficiency is accomplished by ensuring that employees are where they need to be on any given day. Scheduling staff is a difficult task and takes plenty of time. Automation can help.

In most cases, automated scheduling software regulates meal/break times and overtime. This is a tremendous help to managers and lead employees. Collecting schedule and shift data can also be used to forecast coverage, consider employee restrictions, scheduled breaks, and automatically align the appropriate employee with approved tasks. Having these tasks automated can create a tremendous boost to QSR efficiency.

4. Automated Inventory and Bookkeeping

Automating inventory and bookkeeping gives managers more time to focus on other duties, and it can create other efficiencies as well. Software can obviously compile and crunch data faster (and more accurately) than you can, and taking a daily look at inventory rather than weekly or monthly pays off in lower food costs. In fact, QSR Magazine reports that companies using automated inventory systems often save between 1–4 percent of sales in food and liquor costs. Add the benefits of better forecasting, and the savings increase further.

Looking to the future, QSRs will continue to be at the forefront of automation and innovation. As new technologies come to light, QSR efficiency levels should keep getting better and better.


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