The restaurant industry has always faced its fair share of challenges. And it’s no different now — although some of the challenges are admittedly new. From staffing shortages to rising costs to new technologies, there’s a lot to unpack and talk about.

Some of these issues have clearly been brought on by the pandemic, while others have been bubbling under the surface for some time. Either way, it’s important to address them head-on.

Whether you have been in the restaurant industry for some time or are new to the game, you are no doubt feeling the pressure of these issues.

So let’s talk about five specific issues that are currently impacting restaurant owners and how you can combat them.

5 Growing Challenges Facing the Restaurant Industry & What You Can Do About Them

1. Staffing

Finding and keeping qualified staff has been a growing problem that has been made worse with the pandemic..

Some loyal staff members took the opportunity to retire during the height of the pandemic, while others decided to switch careers.

No matter the reason, restaurant owners are struggling to find qualified applicants. This has led many to reduce their schedules to a half week or even eliminate breakfast or lunch shifts.

But what else can you do to address this issue?

How to Fix It: One way that you can alleviate staffing issues is to take a serious look at your restaurant’s culture. Look at ways that you can improve it, perhaps reducing stress and creating a more relaxed and fun environment. Some companies have even offered higher pay to make the job more appealing — but make sure that this is sustainable.

And use the resources you have to find qualified applicants. This could be getting the word out on social media and through friends. You could also encourage your current staff to tell their friends and family about job openings. If they enjoy their work, they’ll be more likely to recommend the job to others.

2. Supply Chain

The lack of commercial truck drivers and factories needing to shut down because of outbreaks has led to higher prices on food and supplies, as well as a sheer lack of supplies.

In the face of this, some restaurants have not had the ingredients or products they need to create some of the dishes on their menu. Or they might need to raise prices on their menu to make sure they can still make a profit.

How to Fix It: Talk to your vendors about the problem. Ask if they have similar products that are less expensive. You might find that a simple shift to a different cut of meat or a new variety of vegetable might help you to keep prices more reasonable.

If you find vendors unable to budge on prices, then you need to take a careful look at your menu. Here are a few ways that you might be able to weather this temporary situation…

  • Raise prices slightly without shocking your customer
  • Change up ingredients in some of your recipes.
  • Remove menu items that just won’t work.
  • Create exciting new dishes to compensate for the change.

Okay, so you’ve done everything you can. But, at the same time, don’t forget to keep the lines of communication open with your customers. Let them know about the supply chain issues you’re facing and how it’s impacting your restaurant. Knowing this will likely help them to be more patient with any changes you implement.

3. Marketing

Marketing has changed drastically in the last couple of decades, leaving some restaurant owners scratching their heads.

Some are unfamiliar with and even a little apprehensive when it comes to technologies like social media, websites, and online ordering.

Others are simply so weighed down with the day-to-day needs of running a restaurant that marketing falls through the cracks.

But these technologies are the way of the future. Study after study shows how necessary websites and social media are to the future of the restaurant industry. For example…

  • 77% of diners will check a restaurant’s website before visiting in person.
  • 45% of diners have tried a restaurant because of their social media presence.
  • 94% of diners will choose a restaurant based on online reviews.

How to Fix It: Give these technologies your time and attention. Research how you can best use them for your business. Many of them are free, but you can also investigate what paid technologies might be worth the extra investment.

If you find yourself with too much on your plate, then find someone who can help. Perhaps there’s someone on your team who has experience with social media and the time to devote to it. Or maybe it’s time to invest in a real expert, someone who knows what tools and technologies are out there and how to best utilize them for your restaurant.

4. Rising Operating Costs

In addition to rising food prices because of the supply chain, restaurants are facing a general rise in operating costs.

There are a few reasons for this. In some cases, it can be linked to the extra pay that is needed to pay staff for the overtime required to cover more shifts. In other cases, it’s due to a lack of customers and social distancing protocols that are required in some areas.

How to Fix It: One way to combat this is through technologies like online ordering. This can help your restaurant to tap into a new customer base of those who can’t or don’t want to come to your restaurant in person.

And there are options out there that don’t include third-party apps like Doordash that are notorious for taking advantage of local restaurants. For example, DevourNow can install a simple Order Online button on your website that helps customers to put in an order which will then be sent directly to you. With this option, you create revenue with very little overhead.

5. Public Ennui

Initially, after the first shutdown in 2020, there was a great wave of empathy for the restaurant industry. People wanted to help prop up local restaurants.

Now, two years into the pandemic, people’s empathy has cooled off. Many are facing their own personal challenges and are tired of the pandemic in general.

How to Fix It: Create a space that distracts your customers without reminding them of how the pandemic is still affecting all of us. Avoid mentioning how the pandemic is impacting your bottom line, both with in-person diners and on social media.

Instead, be positive. Create excitement for what’s going on in your restaurant and the local community. It could be an upcoming trivia night or a new menu item. Show people that you’re more than just a headline and remind them of why they should want to come into your restaurant.

Concluding Thoughts About Problems Facing Restaurant Owners

As with any business, challenges will come and go. As long as you can create a strategy that combats these challenges, you will be able to weather whatever comes along.

And that’s what we wanted to help you do with this post! We are wholeheartedly in your corner, rooting you on. We hope these recommendations shed some light on new ways that you can handle the current challenges in the restaurant industry.

Finally, we’d love to hear from you — please drop us a line in the comments below and share your most recent experiences with these challenges. What has helped you to deal with issues as they come? We can’t wait to read what you share!

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