How Self-Serve Kiosks Help Combat Labor Shortages in Restaurants - Applova

How Self-Serve Kiosks Help Combat Labor Shortages in Restaurants

The restaurant industry has been grappling with a severe labor shortage for several years, a situation exacerbated by recent global events. Restaurant owners are constantly searching for ways to maintain efficient operations despite these challenges. One increasingly popular solution is the implementation of self-serve kiosks. These kiosks, which enable customers to place their own orders, can significantly alleviate the pressure on understaffed restaurants, streamline operations, and improve customer satisfaction.

Understanding the Labor Shortage in the Restaurant Industry

labor shortage in the Restaurant Industry - Applova

The labor shortage in the restaurant industry is a multifaceted problem. Various factors contribute to this issue, including low wages, demanding work conditions, and a changing labor market. According to recent restaurant labor shortage statistics, many restaurant workers have left the industry in search of better opportunities. This situation has left restaurant owners struggling to fill positions and maintain service quality.

The restaurant industry labor shortage has had a profound impact on businesses, leading to reduced hours, limited menu offerings, and even temporary closures. The fast food sector has been particularly hard hit, with many establishments facing a fast food worker shortage. As a result, finding innovative solutions to this labor crisis is crucial for the survival and growth of restaurants.

Must Read: Why is the demand for self service kiosks on rise?

The Role of Self-Serve Kiosks in Addressing Labor Shortages

Self-serve kiosks, also known as self-ordering kiosks, are technological solutions designed to streamline the ordering process. These kiosks allow customers to browse menus, customize their orders, and pay without needing assistance from restaurant staff. By integrating self-service kiosks, restaurants can operate more efficiently with fewer employees.

Benefits of Self-Serve Kiosks

  1. Increased Efficiency and Speed: Self-serve kiosks can handle multiple orders simultaneously, reducing wait times and improving the overall dining experience. This is particularly beneficial during peak hours when the demand on staff is highest.
  2. Reduced Labor Costs: With kiosks taking on the task of order taking, restaurants can operate with fewer front-of-house staff. This reduction in labor costs can help offset the challenges posed by the restaurant staffing shortage.
  3. Enhanced Order Accuracy: Self-ordering kiosks minimize human error by allowing customers to input their orders directly. This accuracy reduces the likelihood of incorrect orders and improves customer satisfaction.
  4. Upselling Opportunities: Kiosk software can be programmed to suggest additional items or upgrades, increasing the average order value. This automated upselling can boost revenue without requiring extra effort from the staff.
  5. Improved Customer Experience: Many customers appreciate the convenience and control that self-serve kiosks provide. By offering an intuitive and interactive ordering process, restaurants can enhance the dining experience and build customer loyalty.

How Self-Serve Kiosks Address Specific Labor Shortage Issues

Dealing with Understaffed Restaurants

One of the most significant challenges of the restaurant worker shortage is maintaining service quality with a smaller team. Self-serve kiosks can fill the gap by taking on routine tasks, allowing the remaining staff to focus on more complex and customer-centric duties. This can lead to a more balanced workload and reduce the stress on employees, potentially leading to higher job satisfaction and retention.

Coping with High Turnover Rates

High turnover rates are a persistent issue in the restaurant industry. Training new staff members repeatedly can be time-consuming and costly. Self-serve kiosks can help mitigate this problem by reducing the dependency on front-of-house staff. As kiosks handle order processing, the need for extensive training is minimized, making it easier to onboard new employees quickly.

Enhancing Operational Flexibility

Restaurants often face fluctuating demand, with peak times requiring more staff than off-peak hours. Self-ordering kiosks provide the flexibility to handle varying customer volumes without the need to constantly adjust staffing levels. This adaptability is particularly useful for fast food restaurants, which experience significant fluctuations in customer traffic.

Real-World Examples of Success

Several restaurant chains have successfully implemented self-serve kiosks to combat labor shortages and improve operations. For instance, McDonald’s has rolled out self-ordering kiosks in many of its locations worldwide. The fast food giant reported that the kiosks not only helped manage labor shortages but also increased sales through effective upselling.

Another example is Panera Bread, which introduced self-service kiosks to streamline the ordering process. The kiosks allowed the restaurant to maintain service quality despite staffing challenges and provided valuable insights into customer preferences and behaviors.

Implementing Self-Serve Kiosks in Your Restaurant

Self-serve kiosks to combat labor shortages - Applova

For restaurant owners considering the adoption of self-serve kiosks, several factors should be taken into account to ensure a successful implementation:

  1. Choosing the Right Kiosk System: Select a kiosk solution that integrates seamlessly with your existing point-of-sale (POS) system and kitchen operations. Look for features such as user-friendly interfaces, customization options, and robust reporting capabilities.
  2. Training Staff: While self-serve kiosks reduce the need for order-taking staff, it’s essential to train your team to assist customers with the new technology and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
  3. Promoting the Kiosks: Encourage customers to use the self-service kiosks by promoting them through signage, social media, and in-store announcements. Highlight the benefits, such as reduced wait times and greater customization options.
  4. Monitoring and Optimization: Continuously monitor the performance of the kiosks and gather feedback from customers and staff. Use this data to make necessary adjustments and optimize the system for better efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Must Read: Will Self-Ordering Kiosks replace all the employees in future?

Overcoming Challenges with Self-Serve Kiosks

While self-serve kiosks offer numerous benefits, it’s important to address potential challenges to ensure a smooth transition:

  • Technical Issues: Ensure that you have a reliable technical support system in place to address any hardware or software issues promptly.
  • Customer Adaptation: Some customers may be hesitant to use self-serve kiosks initially. Provide clear instructions and assistance to help them become comfortable with the technology.
  • Integration with Existing Systems: Ensure that the kiosks integrate seamlessly with your current POS and kitchen systems to avoid disruptions in operations.


In the face of a labor shortage in the restaurant industry, self-serve kiosks offer a viable solution to maintain efficient operations and enhance the customer experience. By reducing the dependency on front-of-house staff, improving order accuracy, and providing opportunities for upselling, self-ordering kiosks can help restaurants navigate the challenges of understaffing and turnover. As the industry continues to evolve, embracing technology like self-serve kiosks will be crucial for restaurants to thrive in a competitive landscape.