How AI helps restaurants cut costs and improve service

As restaurateurs ready themselves for a busy spring and summer, technology like AI can be helpful in meeting some of the challenges restaurants are facing. Labour shortages, inventory management, and increasing efficiency are all challenges that AI can help operators manage, as they continue to build the bottom line.

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Labour shortages

These days, 62 per cent of restaurants are seeing low staffing levels, and 45 per cent of operators need more staff in order to meet their customer demand. Technology has stepped up in many ways to help alleviate added pressure on staff, fill in the labour gaps, and increase service efficiency.

One company taking advantage of this tech is Starbucks, whose Deep Brew initiative has the ability to predict staffing needs, make schedules, and it takes on duties that can be automated like maintenance and inventory checks.

Using AI to supplement low levels of staffing by performing simple, automated tasks can help operators meet diner demand, even when staffing remains low.

Inventory management

As sustainability and inflation remain top-of-mind, AI can help with less waste and lower overhead. KFC and Taco Bell are using an AI system called Recommended Ordering that predicts and recommends how much inventory each location should order weekly. This technology helps stores see less waste, save labour, and cut costs.

Inventory management can be a tedious task, taking up significant amounts of time. It’s also susceptible to human error and inconsistencies, both of which automation can eliminate, making the process simple and efficient.

Order taking

Costs can also be cut when the order-taking process is streamlined, and AI can help, from chatbots to automated ordering. Domino’s uses AI to save on order-takers, allowing the technology to record and dispatch orders, starting the pizza-making process before the transaction is even complete. This means less labour is required throughout the process and restaurants see faster prep and delivery times.

Similarly, adding chatbots to your restaurant’s website can make addressing customer questions and complaints faster and easier, offering customers immediate service, while limiting the added workload on your teams.

AI and automation are technology tools that can significantly help operators better manage their staff, their inventory, and their processes.