The divisive Minimum Wage discussion is under way in Ontario, on the heels of Alberta, and perhaps, in advance of British Columbia. Setting politics (not to be confused with rational economic policy) aside for the moment, let’s address the consequences should this legislation proceed as presented. What options do food service owner-operators, particularly at the lower end of the spectrum (in a volume of business sense), have in order to save their businesses, and to stay alive to employ as many as possible under the circumstances?
Technology provides some options that are favourably regarded by consumers. How can restaurants use technology to get a better handle on labour costs and increase revenues through efficient operating platforms? To help me answer the question, I spoke with Akshay Pandya of Zuzapp, one of our partners in our Summer Sizzle Restaurants Canada offer (more on that later). Here’s a summary of our conversation:
PM: Akshay, what can restaurants do to deal with rising minimum wage issues?
AP: Technology can’t totally solve any problem, but it can help. I think the issues that are emerging now make an exploration of some modest tech applications certainly worthwhile.
PM: We’re starting to see tech-driven ordering options in some of the larger restaurant operations. Is that something smaller operators could consider?
AP: Yes, it’s definitely possible for all operators to innovate to a more tech-driven ordering platform for food, drinks, and services. Also, reservations are a common issue for operators. We have options that can simplify these issues and reduce the need for manual intervention, often reducing the cost of no-shows.
PM: With profit margins so incredibly thin in the industry, how can tech applications help people improve their bottom line?
AP: By moving to a more contemporary platform, we find our restaurant customers generally experience great returns from what we call ‘geo-targeted push notifications’. These drive traffic by sending alerts to smartphones whenever there’s something new and exciting to share. Also, you can prompt people with specific calls-to-action, such as making a reservation, redeeming an offer, or attending an event. Our experience shows the average spend per customer increases as a result.
PM: I guess the opportunity here is to use a negative to drive a positive. That is, to respond to an untenable business condition – increased labour costs that will jeopardize the business – with a look at the tech options that will create a more contemporary business model.
AP: Yes, that’s true. We haven’t even touched on how these basic tech options can leverage social media and play to the interests of digitally savvy guests of all ages. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube; these are all opportunities waiting to be explored, so why not take advantage of them?
PM: OK, bottom line time. How expensive is this?
AP: I can’t speaks for others, but I can tell you that in our case, we offer a pretty impressive branded mobile guest engagement and communication app that’s regularly only $49 a month. But, during the Hot Summer Deals promotion with Restaurants Canada, we’re offering 50% off our mobile technology solutions.
PM: Thanks Akshay. Just out of interest, where does the name “Zuzapp” come from?
AP: Anytime. Actually, “Zuzapp” is a derivative of the word “Zuza” from the Zulu language. It means ‘to benefit.’ We see our mission as helping clients realize the monumental benefits of mobile apps.
So, we do have some options to consider as we try to think our way out of this situation with Minimum Wage increases. The restaurant industry is fundamentally a people industry, and technology can help ease the pressure on restaurateurs (and their staff) by providing an enhanced customer experience. This won’t answer everybody’s problems, of course, but it may give some people a fighting chance to survive, and we’re all about giving members solutions. In the meantime, we’ll keep working on our communications and representations to governments.
To learn more about Zuzapp, and, specifically, their offer as a participating partner in our Hot Summer Deals promotion, check them out here: https://www.restaurantscanada.org/hot-summer-deals/.
Questions? Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1 800 387 5649 ext 4225.
Paul McKay, is a membership consultant @ Restaurants Canada.