Change can be daunting when it comes to something as crucial as your restaurant’s technology platforms — especially if you’re running a large restaurant group. Even the best technology solutions come with a learning curve, and incorporating new systems and practices into your restaurant operations can present challenges for both you and your staff.
You won’t be able to use new technology to its fullest potential unless your team is on board, which means learning how to train restaurant staff is paramount. Teaching staff members how to use new technology is just one part of the process, as it’s equally important to get them excited about utilizing new solutions.
Read on to learn how you can make training, onboarding and inspiring restaurant staff to adopt new restaurant tech solutions a success story — and why doing so is worth it for your business.
In this article, you’ll learn:
Technology Is on the Rise — and Restaurants are Adopting and Adapting
A plethora of new technology solutions designed for the restaurant industry have come onto the market in recent years. The hospitality world became more integrated with the tech space as a result of the pandemic, evolving from the standard POS system to QR codes, contactless payments, online ordering systems and even restaurant robotics that can run drinks and bus tables.
Plenty of data demonstrates how important adopting new technology is for restaurants — and how the rise of restaurant tech doesn’t seem to be waning any time soon. Research shows:
- 55% of restaurants plan to adopt new technology in 2023
- 60% of restaurants plan to increase automation in their online functions
- 49% of restaurants plan to automate more on-premise functions
It can be tempting to think that if your current tools get the job done, there’s no reason to seek out new solutions. However, not keeping up with the times can be extremely detrimental to your business in today’s ever-evolving technology landscape — since your competition very well might be.
Today’s Cutting-Edge Technology Tools
These days, restaurant technology can handle much more than just sending orders to the kitchen and taking credit card payments. Today’s most important tools can help you tackle everything from payroll, to delivery orders, to reservations — and the benefit of technology in the hospitality industry can’t be understated.
An ERP, an enterprise resource planning system, provides your business with tools that make your day-to-day operations easier. Accounting, project management, workforce management and supply chain management are all tasks an ERP can help you with. Putting this type of software to work can help you make more data-driven, effective decisions about everything from inventory to menu planning.
From robotic solutions to email marketing tools, there’s an entire spectrum of automation tools that restaurateurs now have at their fingertips. Using automation tools helps you and your staff save time by cutting down on repetitive, time-consuming tasks.
Whether it’s sending reservation confirmation texts or emailing guests about a special menu item or promotion, automation can streamline your most important processes.
Adding chatbots to your website or booking page can help take weight off of your staff’s back. FAQs, making a reservation, ordering food and processing payments can all be handled by a chatbot — so your guests receive the service they want while your staff is free to attend to more pressing matters.
Social Listening Tools
Social listening tools act as your eyes and ears across various social media channels. These tools provide insight into how your brand is perceived online since they monitor things like tags, check-ins and mentions. They’re an effective way to gather feedback about your brand as a whole.
Using a restaurant CRM (customer relationship management) software can help give you insight into guest preferences, track guest habits with POS integration and effectively manage reservations. CRM software can also help you target your marketing efforts based on learned guest behavior.
Employee Engagement Software
Finding great employees is hard enough in today’s labor market, so staff retention is more crucial than ever. Using employee engagement software can help you build community, foster trust, and provide pathways through which employees can ask questions and address concerns.
Australian Venue Co. (AVC), a restaurant group with over 8,000 employees and 200+ locations, increased its retention rates by 15% after it began using an employee engagement system called Workplace by Meta.
Challenges of Implementing New Tech Solutions
Even if you recognize the benefits of adopting new tech solutions in theory, the idea of doing so in practice can still feel overwhelming — for small teams and large restaurant groups that employ thousands of people. While food and beverage are at the heart of your restaurant, your technology tools are what keep your entire operation running. Preparing for the challenges that come with adopting new solutions can help you overcome them when the time comes.
Creating Consistency Across Multiple Venues
Consistency is key — especially if you’re adopting new technology across multiple venues. As essential as creating a streamlined, methodized approach to technology across all your locations may be, it’s not easy to pull off in practice. Some locations may incorporate new tech solutions easier than others based on factors like:
- Number of staff members: The more people you have on your team, the more difficult it’s going to be to efficiently get everyone up to speed on how to incorporate new tech into their daily workflows.
- Level of service: The atmosphere and guest expectations at each location matter. For example, if some of your locations don’t take reservations, while others have a hard time accommodating any walk-ins, it will create a different set of requirements for training staff.
- Manager expertise: Training often starts with restaurant management, so the stronger management team you have on board, the better. Managers can’t train others unless they understand your new tech themselves, so they need to get comfortable first. Learning starts at the top.
- Off-premise operations: If some of your locations do more delivery and takeout than others, you’ll need to approach staff training differently in each scenario.
- Staff retention: Creating an environment in which staff members stay with the team for long periods of time means you can focus on long-term training solutions. Experienced employees can also help train new restaurant employees.
Conducting Thorough Restaurant Staff Training
In a perfect world, you’d be able to dedicate all the time, resources and energy needed to train each and every staff member. In reality, it’s often difficult to carve out time for the training process in an industry in which every second counts. Not only can it be difficult (or even impossible) to get everyone in the same room, at the same time, but the nature of restaurants often necessitates learning “on the fly.”
Offering one-on-one training can help eliminate logistical challenges as well as deepen the learning experience, so it’s a good idea to provide a mix of group and individual training opportunities.
Getting Customers on Board
Your staff members aren’t the only people you need to consider when you decide to adopt new technology, as the customer experience will be impacted by the changes, too. It’s normal to face some pushback when you implement customer-facing technology, so try to predict where you might run into resistance in order to mitigate it as much as possible. Don’t panic — customers will adapt, too!
Tips for Successfully Training New Restaurant Tech Across Multiple Venues: A Success Story
There are plenty of steps you can take to make technology transitions easier — including learning from large restaurant groups that have successfully made significant technology transitions. For actionable tips you can use to learn how to train restaurant staff on new technology, let’s take a page from Ethan Stowell Restaurant Group who seamlessly integrated SevenRooms’ Reservation and CRM solution across 14 of their venues.
When Ethan Stowell Restaurants, a Seattle-based hospitality group with 30 locations, introduced SevenRooms technology into its operations, they knew it would be a massive undertaking. For one, the group had used the same reservation system for a number of years, so getting a reluctant staff on board was tough. Not only did the transition result in saving $6,000 a month in cover charges while increasing covers by 10%, they also discovered ways to train staff to use the new system more effectively. Read the full case study here.
Phia McDonnell, Events Director (former operator) for Ethan Stowell Restaurants, shared some of her top tips for training staff on new technology.
Create a Cohesive Training Program
Mapping out how to train people in different positions is key. Training managers should look different than training hourly restaurant employees, and training an entire opening staff at a new location should look different than training a few new employees at an established restaurant.
Ethan Stowell Restaurant Group cross-trains front-of-house employees so that even bartenders can make a reservation with ease. If your new technology system isn’t part of someone’s usual role, providing them with the skill and knowledge to use it is empowering — and it encourages teamwork.
“By providing this type of cross education it enables a bartender, or any staff member, to not be intimidated by approaching the host stand and seating a guest, or reverting to the run of the mill response of ‘the host will be right with you’,” says Phia McDonnell. “It encourages anyone to utilize the technology because they have an understanding of how to use it.”
Allow Staff Members to Learn by Doing
No matter what kind of technology you’re training your staff to use, conducting a few test runs can save you from embarrassing (and costly) blunders with customers. Hands-on training should allow staff members at all your locations to practice using your new system in a low-stakes setting — so they can focus on learning rather than performing.
Ethan Stowell Restaurant Group allows team members to practice making reservations in a group setting during training sessions. This way, everyone can learn from each other’s mistakes as they get used to using SevenRooms.
Don’t forget to start with the basics. Your team will learn, grow and lean into new technology capabilities over time.
“People don’t need to know everything all at once.” — Phia McDonnell, Events Director, ESRG
Make it Personal — and Fun
Ethan Stowell Restaurant Group’s training success can largely be attributed to the emphasis that’s placed on making training feel fun and personal. During training sessions, employees get to create their own guest profiles (complete with emojis, birthdays and customized guest tags). Technology has a reputation for feeling cold and untouchable, so adding personal elements is key.
McDonnell also highlights how to combine employees’ strengths with the power of technology. Because SevenRooms allows them to monitor and track guests’ preferences with data, staff doesn’t need to rely on memory to recall a guest’s favorite meal. Key features like this help employees fine-tune their gifts with data, empowering them to become even better hospitality professionals dialed into the importance of personalized guest experience.
“The tech is really there to help you leverage success — it’s how you lean into it that’s the determining factor.” — Phia McDonnell, Events Director, ESRG
Roll Out New Tech, One Venue at a Time
One important strategy to keep in mind is to roll out new tech slowly — location by location. Choose one venue to act as the pilot for the transition, where you can test and perfect your training protocols before moving on to the next venue. Doing so will prevent overlap and confusion since you can start small and then scale up.
Choose Platforms with Robust Support Systems
Even with thorough training protocols in place, your employees are going to have questions. Choosing a system with fast, reliable customer service means you and your managers won’t waste time on hold whenever you need support.
Adopting new technology can be stressful but with the right partner and training strategy in place, you’ll not only get up and running faster but will set your team up for success. SevenRooms strives to ease your anxiety when adding new technology or switching to a new system. Our platform is intuitive so learning will feel easy and natural at every stage. We also understand how frustrating it is not to have access to help when you need it — which is why we offer support at every turn.
SevenRooms is designed to function across multiple venues and scale as your business grows, so you can rest assured you’ll have access to all the guest data you need, at every location. To learn more, schedule a demo today.
Tech Training FAQs
How Do You Effectively Train Restaurant Staff?
One effective way to approach training is to provide a mix of group and one-on-one training that allows staff members to learn by doing. You should also compile a written employee handbook or training manual staff members can reference.
How Do You Lead Employees Through Technology Changes?
It’s important to establish a strong foundation, so start with the basics. Be sure to allow employees to ask questions, and remember to account for the normal learning curve that comes with significant technology changes.
Which Type of Tech Training is Most Important for Restaurant Servers?
While knowing the ins and outs of your point of sale system is the most important type of technology training for servers, teaching them how to use the reservation system and even online delivery platforms can save the day in a pinch.