There is no shortage of news headlines about the need for restaurants to analyze their data – and to adopt technology that can provide clues about what is going well and what isn’t. But as restaurant operators struggle with labor challenges, adopt new tech to help ease them, and double down on data analysis to better understand performance, it’s important to remember the human element. Specifically, restaurants need to balance their data analysis with a more subjective review of the guest and staff experience. A recent blog post from restaurant consultancy Aaron Allen & Associates relayed the experience of the company’s CEO, who had visited a higher-end national steakhouse chain. He wanted to place a $100-plus takeout order, but there were only two staff members trying to serve the more than 60 guests in the bar area. After waiting for nearly half an hour to place his order, he gave up and left. The especially unfortunate part about this anecdote – and what it could mean for the industry going forward – is that the restaurant’s metrics for the night surely didn’t track the guests who left without food, or the staff members who were burning out from the workload or unaware of the people they didn’t have time to serve. According to their data, it may have been a high-performance night. The industry is at a telling turning point right now: Restaurants are trying to find their footing with smaller teams, and in many cases, are finding ways to use technology to squeeze out profits and otherwise make the current business climate more manageable. But while there are clear benefits to these new systems and ways of working, don’t forget to take a longer view and anticipate the consequences you may not be seeing – the ones your tech stack can’t track.
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