Clear Pros and Cons of an Automated Restaurant

Introduction - Automated Restaurants

Many writers in the 1950's believed future families would have personal robots as friends, helpers, and cooks. While modern society isn't exactly at the stage these individuals envisioned, robotics and automation are a trend that is here to stay. From Siri to Alexa to mobile phones to kiosks, automation only continues to grow and evolve.

Businesses also take advantage of all of the modern tools available to them. Employees and owners use machines to perform tasks that are otherwise meticulous and time-consuming. Like so many other industries, the restaurant business continues to invest in automation to decrease costs and save resources. Read ahead to understand the pros and cons of automation in restaurants.

Top Pros and Cons of an Automated Restaurant

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What exactly is an automated restaurant? While there isn't one exact way to create a fully automated restaurant, many owners replace manual processes with faster technologies. Implementing automation gives a casual restaurant or fast-food chain a competitive edge during difficult economic and market conditions.

According to different studies, a fully automated restaurant reduces labor costs, minimizes other operating expenses, and increases profits. Furthermore, the restaurant business improves the customer experience when they offer self-service, intuitive ways for patrons to place an order for food delivery services. Regardless of how a restaurant implements an automated solution, automation tends to increase profits, save money, and enhance a brand.

Examples of automation in restaurants include

  • Kiosks- Customers use an ordering machine or kiosk for food service rather than wait in line. McDonald's and other fast-food chains incorporate kiosks in most franchises.
  • Employee Training- Interactive programs and other onboarding systems automate new hire training.
  • Menus- Digital menus display different items at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They use pictures and other visuals to draw in the customer's attention.
Though automated restaurants are all the rage from New York to San Francisco, there are both pros and cons when a fast-casual diner decides to eliminate manual processes. These include

1. Pros of an Automated Restaurant

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Increase Reliability
Restaurant automation improves accuracy as patrons are able to easily review orders. A very fast-paced diner with lengthy wait times pushes both the patron and the cashier to quickly perform a transaction. However, the cashier still needs to provide good customer service even when under pressure. This type of high-pressure dining experience increases the likelihood of human error.

Automation also increases accuracy in the kitchen area. If the restaurant industry invests in a robot to prepare menu items, each meal is cooked perfectly. The quantity of each order does not impact the quality of the customers' order.

Save Money
Labor expenses can make or break a struggling diner. As the minimum wage rises across the country, automation restaurants may solve the problem. Because the cost of technology systems decreases, diners invest in more systems than counterbalance the rise in worker pay.

Predictive scheduling decreases any scheduling problems that arise with manual processes. This ensures business owners comply with state and federal regulations. It also increases employee morale and ensures everyone is at work when they are supposed to be.

Improves Efficiency
Because automation decreases inaccuracies in both online ordering and in-person orders, employees are more efficient. Automation also ensures that the chef or robot will use the correct amount of ingredients for each menu item. This minimizes costs and waste so restaurants can increase their profit margins. Customers are also happy when they receive a healthy food order exactly the way it is supposed to be.

Finally, automation makes food safety practices more efficient. Restaurants can use tools to monitor inventory, temperatures, contamination, and more. Predictive tools forecast problems in the supply chain before they become a bigger concern.

Successful diners showcase their food safety practices to customers, who appreciate the transparency. This increases profits and ensures others know about the diner's unique brand.

The Cons of Restaurant Automation

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Decrease in Connectivity
Eating out is a social event that brings people together in a fun environment. Automation reduces human connectivity when customers order through a mobile app rather than calling in an order or going inside to eat.

When robots and kiosks replace chefs and servers, the restaurant may seem sterile and cold. Experts continue to study the impact that technology has on human connection. So far, the results are troubling.

Difficult to Use
Many older patrons and other types of customers don't want to eat at a restaurant that prioritizes automation. Diners that implement automation risk alienating large segments of the population who aren't up to speed with all of the recent changes in technology. For example, some fast-food chains prioritize kiosks over cashiers. This may increase the amount of employee work because they are regularly helping patrons to use it.

Can't Always Solve Complex Problems
Customers that need to solve difficult problems may not always receive the help they want from an automated system. It can be hard to eliminate a certain ingredient or customize an order when there isn't a person to talk to. Traditionally, a server communicates these special requests to the chef. An automated system makes this more challenging.

Expensive Solutions
While it's usually worth it financially to invest in an automated solution, many systems come with a hefty price tag. It is even more expensive to switch every manual process to an automated process. It's not likely that a small diner is going to have these kinds of assets. Many restaurants automate one process at a time to decrease the overall investment.

Owners use reporting to assess how well each new system performs and whether it increases profits and saves money. This method is effective for smaller diners who don't always have the startup capital to overall entire workflows and procedures.

Automated Restaurants - Key Takeaways

In conclusion, here are the pros and cons of an automated restaurant

  • Business owners replace manual processes with automated processes to increase profit, improve a brand, save money, and decrease workload.
  • Kiosks, employee training programs, and digital menus are examples of automation in business
  • Automation increases reliability, saves money, and improves efficiency.
  • Automated solutions decrease connectivity, are difficult to use, can't always solve complex problems, and require capital.