The productivity crisis: why we need a rethink
Nick Liddle – Commercial Director of Vita Mojo – gives his opinion on the productivity crisis facing the hospitality industry, and the mind-shift needed to change it…
I recently saw an ad for the Google phone, driven by the idea of streamlining everyday activities onto one device: “You use Gmail, Google Maps and Google Chrome, why wouldn’t you do it all on a Google phone?”
The question seems a genuinely good one. When an easier option is on the table, why wouldn’t you choose change?
But instead of bringing about a breakup with my iPhone (sorry, Google), the ad made me think about change in the hospitality industry. In what is a really tough time for our sector, we need to make a conscious decision to take risks and do things differently.
Take the labour shortage. Vacancies in the industry are 56% higher than pre-pandemic and businesses are being pushed to breaking point. This problem is intensified by the fact that productivity growth within the hospitality industry is fairly stagnant, with operators losing hours every day on manual tasks that could be automated.
The menu management time sink
Making menu updates across multiple channels, for example, has become a huge time sink.
It pains me when I hear operators explain the hours wasted hopping between accounts, tablets and platforms to make the same change multiple times. Operations are often forced to dedicate at least one full-time member of staff to oversee this – with some working through the night to keep up.
The problem grows exponentially with the size of the operation. With 15 locations, and your menu existing on your POS, online order channels and three separate delivery platforms, that’s 75 places to manually update one dish.
It’s an unfathomable use of time when we simply don’t have any to spare.
The new way of thinking
These inefficient processes have been driven by necessity. The pandemic forced the industry to accelerate digital adoption and solve problems ASAP, causing us to over-rely on point solutions. These offer efficiency when taken as an isolated channel, but create fatally flawed workflows as a whole.
There are solutions to this. But only if we choose to do things differently. We need to reflect on the way we do things to look for more efficient, scalable processes that will set us up for the future.
We’re at a turning point where greater efficiency can be achieved if we can catch up with the strides we’ve made with digital innovation. For menu management, for instance, it’s now possible to move away from fragmented channel management. We can make updates once and simply push them out to all channels. By streamlining processes in this way, it’s possible to maximise productivity without growing the size of your teams.
It's already happening…
I’m a strong believer that adopting a new way of thinking will solve the productivity crisis in hospitality.
This is already happening in certain parts of the industry. Kiosk adoption, for example, has exploded in the last 12 months as operators have sought new ways to tackle the labour shortage. Just last month we saw record numbers of kiosk sales across our clients – with orders processed through kiosks up 68% on March 2022. One of our clients also saw three record weeks of sales after reimagining the ordering and food preparation process to increase productivity and throughput.
This is the sort of thinking we need as an industry to be more resilient, profitable, and productive. After all, there’s literally no time to lose.