How to combat delivery kitchen staffing shortages
After over two years of disrupted trading due to pandemic lockdowns and post-Brexit migration, staffing shortages and a deficit of skilled workers remain a big challenge for restaurants, particularly when it comes to kitchen staff.
We talk to Manpreet Singh, Customer Success Lead here at Growth Kitchen to talk about the ongoing staffing crisis, what is happening in the kitchens and what smart restaurants are doing about it.
Q: How much of an issue is staffing for restaurants?
MS: Staffing for restaurants is quite a big issue at the moment, for delivery kitchens, as well as brick-and-mortar (B&M) sites. With spiking delivery volumes, there is less and less downtime for kitchen staff and we’re seeing a lot of restaurants struggling to find the skilled staff that they need to support demand.
However, delivery kitchens are a bit more resilient as they can function efficiently with a smaller core team of four or five people. Having said that, if someone is off sick, this has a larger impact on operations than it would on the high street.
Overall, larger brands have the ability to bring in staff from their B&M sites to supplement their delivery operations as a short-term measure. But this is just a temporary solution for those who want to continue to optimise delivery.
Q: What are you doing to help mitigate the effects of worker shortages?
MS: Firstly, it’s been really important to get feedback from all our customers, about any issues they are having staffing related or otherwise to see what they need help with. For us, it’s so important to communicate with our customers and their teams on a regular basis so we can build that relationship and support them when they need it most. And it’s having this open and transparent way of talking to each other, which means that if someone is in trouble, we hear about it before the problem becomes too big.
When it comes to staffing we’ve been able to team up with our restaurants to get them on hiring platforms dedicated to finding qualified candidates. These sorts of apps come at a price, but if a brand needs someone quickly, this can be a great solution to plug a gap. But it’s clear that there is a need to think creatively with restauranteurs and look at it as a community problem, not just a restaurant issue.
Q: What is most important to kitchen staff?
MS: I think one of the most important things for staff is how they are treated and the working environment they are in. They want the tools they need to get the job done and training on how to use them. We have a knowledgeable Operations team onsite who are always there to answer questions about the equipment and setup.
We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from teams saying that they’ve never worked in such spacious kitchens before. We understand that putting staff at the forefront of our business is so important to their happiness and success. Nice open spaces and natural light make a big difference to their day-to-day work, as well as the quality of the food. A lot of times in delivery kitchens, they are just left to their own devices. We like to make sure that anyone can come to us when they need our support. If our staff are happy, the food is great.
Q: What are smart restaurants doing?
MS: Tailored menus to support delivery locations are super important to be able to do more with less. We’re seeing a lot of restaurants shrinking down their menus and focusing on their core items for delivery. Doing this is a lot more efficient, firstly, the kitchen setup can be optimized for certain items, and secondly, staff know what they are doing. They don’t have to remember tens of potential menu items that they may get on a daily basis. They can just focus on a core cohort of menu items, making it hugely beneficial for efficiency and the quality of the food too.
From top quick service restaurants (QSRs) who conduct their own health and safety training and equipment inductions to mom-and-pop businesses that are not so familiar with commercial equipment, the smart food brands are working with delivery partners who know their stuff when it comes to operational excellence. Our on-the-ground Operations team is there to support our customers and make sure that they are operating in a safe manner most importantly, as well as efficiently. And once the teams are up and running, the restaurant brands can take their hands off the wheel with peace of mind that we can handle the rest.
Q: What things do you think delivery kitchen operators need to do in order to stay one step ahead?
MS: I think the best way for restaurants to keep ahead is to stay on top of performance on a monthly basis, and this is something that we can help them with. We can provide customers with a seasonality report depicting what the next six to 12 months may look like. This way we can start to predict where there is less need for staff in the kitchens — saving bottom line costs, but still operating at the same level. By sharing data between restaurant and operator, we can help them make better business decisions. We’ve seen this work really well with Tortilla, where they’ve got our analytics tool and their team behind them to maximise that information.
Additionally, new initiatives, new menu items, marketing campaigns, or offers are all going to create an uplift in orders so having available kitchen staff and the right ingredients becomes essential. Those who track the cost of ingredients and general bottom line costs against order expectations will be operating in a much more sustainable way and vastly ahead of most organisations that just tend to order the same amount of food every month.
There’s no denying that staff shortages are taking a big toll on restaurants and it’s clear that short-term and long-term strategies need to be put in place.
If you would like to learn more about Growth Kitchen and how we are helping restaurants better manage their business, email us at email@example.com.