Reflections on human resource management in modern restaurant operations

Reflections on human resource management in modern restaurant operations

As owners of a restaurant in Germany, I'm sure we've been through countless hours of paper work and the trademark German bureaucracy before the restaurant even opened. Unfortunately, even when the restaurant is open for business, there are many operational problems to face every day. The main concern of restaurateurs in Germany in general is the issue of manpower. Simply put, how many cooks and how many waiters can be employed to maximise profits.

Why is this a problem?

Often you see nothing but the following situations, where there are enough cooks and not enough waiters, resulting in inefficient operations. Or not enough cooks and too many waiters, resulting in slow serving and waiters doing nothing while productivity is low. It's a question of money: how to spend the least amount of money and generate more profit.

There are many reasons why restaurants are understaffed, for example, the most important one is that the restaurant's profits cannot support sufficient manpower costs. This is a pain in the heart of restaurateurs. Who doesn’t want their shops to be well-served and well-staffed, but the size of the restaurant is limited, and even if the operation is maximised, the flow may not support a few good full-time staff. Using a small to medium sized Chinese restaurant as an example, the minimum kitchen configuration would require a chef and a helper. The average salary for a Chinese chef in Germany is around €2,500 - €2,900 before tax and a helper for a mini job costs €450 or more. Every owner knows how productive these two chefs can be in a small restaurant of about 60 or 70 square metres. So if there are only two waiters in the restaurant, working 8 hours a day (some may work more), and the minimum wage in Germany in 2021 is €9,60 per hour, the monthly cost of these two waiters before tax would be €4,608. Together, the labour cost is a minimum of €7,558 per month (not counting the additional tax on hired staff).

This is a small Chinese restaurant with no dedicated staff serving at the drinks bar, not counting other expenses such as rent, water and electricity. The actual cost may far exceed the estimated figure. Restaurant operators then have to think about how to generate sufficient turnover and remain profitable on costs that are already close to €10,000 per month. It is common practice for restaurant operators to sacrifice manpower to ensure maximum profitability. As it happens, it's a vicious circle. Problems arise when the restaurant's efficiency and service is reduced due to lack of staff. For example, the waiters do not order in time, the food is slow to come out, the food is slow to be served, the waiters' work pressure increases, leading to service errors, wrong orders, wrong food, and even poor service attitude due to high intensity pressure. All of this is reflected in the online reviews of the restaurant and the various complaints from customers. And when people see these reviews they may not come to the restaurant, leading to a loss of customers, Reduced customer, thus turning the former problem of understaffing into overstaffing. Ultimately, the problem comes back to the relationship between profit and cost.

How can intelligent catering manage systems help restaurant operators in this matter?

Keywords: self-service ordering ; data accuracy ; powerful system ; perfect interactive experience

Saving manpower without compromising or even increasing efficiency is what restaurateurs want most. Guests are seated at a comfortable table, connected to the smart catering system (e.g. by simply scanning a QR code with their smartphone) and given access to the ordering interface supported by a powerful system backend. Accuracy of information and stability of systems are key to supporting this goal. At this moment the presence of the waiter is diminished, as the guest can satisfy almost any need in a friendly interactive system. For example, ordering the desired dish, choosing the size, portion size, notes, etc. The only thing you have to do is simply browse, tap and then the dish information will be sent to the kitchen in an organised manner. The workload of waiters is reduced as there is little need for them to carry heavy menus to order. Now it looks like the waiter just needs to wait for the food to be ready and then go serve it. Oh, and maybe make a drink?

Are the waiters at this point able to juggle more tables because of the intelligent catering system, and do they have the opportunity to provide more personalised service? The answer is yes, then efficiency does increase. Once a person has become sufficiently efficient, is it possible to reduce manpower in moderation? Restaurant operators, you need to think about this!

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