By Maie Lee
We’ve all heard about the recent labor shortage and how it’s affecting industries across the board. More jobs are being added on a monthly basis yet the unemployment rate has somewhat plateaued (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). From food services to factory manufacturers to warehousing facilities, companies are struggling to find help (Morath, 2021).
Why is this happening? There’s no short answer.
People are choosing to best protect their physical and mental health and safety as well as demand better wages and benefits, whether that means going back to school or taking a job in another industry (Del Valle, 2021). Employers point to environmental factors like enhanced unemployment benefits and post-covid induced labor supply and demand imbalance (Klein, 2021). The bottom line is that companies especially within the restaurant, retail, and grocery domains need a solution that doesn’t break the bank or require flipping store operations upside down.
No one has offered a viable solution. Is there one?
We believe leveraging the Flybuy platform is a solution that can help most businesses tackle labor efficiency.
Here’s a sample scenario — Ilene’s Italian restaurant shut down indoor dining and has been offering pickup services to customers during covid. As safety mandates begin to loosen up, she’s preparing for pre-covid level operations. After a few months of reaching out to former employees and putting job advertisements online, she’s only been able to fill about 50% of the workforce she needs. The good news is that she’s starting to see more customer traffic for both partial dine-in and takeout. But her current staff can’t keep up with the increasing volume of orders.
This is affecting not only sales but also staff morale – Ilene is leaving money on the table, and her staff is starting to think twice about their jobs due to lack of support and high workload. Customers are also starting to complain about missing garlic bread and cold calamari. Ilene continues to look for help but even after a good interview, candidates want higher pay and add-on benefits that she can’t afford. As a result, Ilene has no choice but to shorten restaurant hours and turn off online ordering during lunch and dinner rushes.
What’s a real, cost-effective solution to these problems?
Time. Flybuy gives time back to staff. From the moment a customer places an order to when they arrive for pickup, Flybuy tracks real-time ETA and sends “nearby,” “on-property,” and “arrived” location updates to staff. This means that there are no surprises to staff and they can carry out other tasks in the meantime. The days of wasting time hovering over the monitor and taking calls from customers about their arrival time or parking location are over! Instead, staff can double check customer orders, restock the pantry, tidy up the counter space, take another customer’s order, or interview job candidates. Flybuy enables staff to be more productive during and in between shifts.
Effort. Flybuy doesn’t require dedicated staff. Notification type and frequency are configurable! The Flybuy Tablet flashes neon lights and makes an array of loud sounds of your choosing to notify preoccupied staff about incoming customers. Staff can be in a completely different area of the restaurant servicing a customer and still get a clear alert about another customer on exactly where they are onsite for quick and easy handoff (e.g., parking lot, in-store, curbside, drive-thru). No additional steps required by staff or the customer.
Energy. Flybuy helps staff work smarter effortlessly using FAFO vs FIFO. Preparing orders as they come in is typically the norm for restaurants, retail, and grocery stores – this is known as FIFO (“First In, First Out”). But doesn’t it make more sense to prepare orders based on customer arrival? Let’s say Customer A is 30 minutes away and Customer F is 5 minutes away. According to FIFO, because Customer A placed their order first, staff will begin preparing Customer A’s order first. By the time Customer A arrives, their food order is cold or even susceptible to foodborne illness leading to food waste (FDA, 2017). What’s more, Customer F has been waiting for at least 10 minutes for their order. Avoid disappointing customers and wasting money, and save staff mental and physical energy with Flybuy! Your staff won’t have to think about which order to fulfill first – Flybuy will prioritize customers and their orders for your multi-tasking staff with real-time updates and alerts. Flybuy promotes FAFO (“First Arrived, First Out”) and helps staff prepare orders based on customer ETA to reduce energy misspent on remakes and handling customer complaints.
Morale. Flybuy comforts and motivates staff. At a time when work feels overwhelming and customer interactions seem never-ending, Flybuy alleviates some of the pressure off multi-tasking staff with automated alerts and encourages them to practice more mindfulness with the work at hand rather than feeling anxious about an upcoming task. Designed to help staff stay focused yet flexible, Flybuy makes it easier for staff to absorb new information (e.g., new customer alerts), embrace changes (e.g., “nearby” to “on-property”), and channel more empathy (e.g., help another colleague with their workload) all the while fulfilling orders. It’s important for staff to remain confident, enthusiastic, and disciplined about their work and workplace during these difficult times, which translates to going above and beyond for customers and colleagues as well as increased throughput for the store. Build a unified culture and stay strong together with Flybuy!
The same time, effort, and energy saving Flybuy features are available to fulfill customer orders via delivery drivers (“Delivery Service Provider”). This means that predictive DSP location alerts enable staff to fulfill delivery orders quickly; DSPs will no longer take up highly-coveted pickup or parking spots, nor will they clog up the dining room; and there’s no need for staff to field questions from delivery drivers, manage their wait time expectations, or give them further instruction. Flybuy takes care of it all!
Stores and restaurants of all sizes continue to struggle to find adequate help (Klein, 2021; Klein, 2021). Employers need a way to address problems caused by labor shortage with staff on deck and without drastically modifying business-as-usual. Orders will forever be omni-channel, and applying FAFO is necessary to your long-term success. Imagine your busy staff spending less time standing idle for customers to arrive and fixing order mistakes, and instead churning out more orders faster without a hitch to happier and returning customers, like Applebees (Coley, 2021). Can employers maximize labor efficiency with existing staff? Yes, with Flybuy Pickup!
Solutions & Outcomes
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021, May 7). The Employment Situation – April 2021. U.S. Department of Labor. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf
Del Valle, G. (2021, May 3). The Lie of ‘No One Wants to Work’. Eater. https://www.eater.com/22417344/restaurant-labor-shortage-covid-19-unemployment-benefits-risks
Fairhurst, Mark. (2020, November 17). 5 Steps to Grocery Pickup Program Success. Meractus. https://www.mercatus.com/blog/grocery-pickup-program-success/
Klein, D. (2021, April 6). Restaurants Race for Employees as Recovery Heats Up. QSR. https://www.qsrmagazine.com/employee-management/restaurants-race-employees-recovery-heats
Klein, D. (2021, May 5). Why the Hiring Crisis is a Moment of Reckoning for Restaurants. QSR. https://www.qsrmagazine.com/employee-management/why-hiring-crisis-moment-reckoning-restaurants?utm_campaign=20210506&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jolt
Morath, E. (2021, May 11). U.S. Job Openings Reach Record High Despite Hiring Slowdown. Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/job-openings-rise-despite-hiring-slowdown-11620725400
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2017). Food Code 2017. FDA. https://www.fda.gov/food/fda-food-code/food-code-2017
Coley, B. (2021, May 16). Applebee’s Uses Hiring Blitz to Fulfill Record Demand. FSR. https://www.fsrmagazine.com/chain-restaurants/applebees-uses-hiring-blitz-fulfill-record-demand