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Don’t Let Labor Shortages Impact Your Customer Experience

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December 11, 2023

A study conducted by Open Table highlights that 80 percent of restaurant owners say they have difficulty filling positions. While restaurant owners are no strangers to labor shortages, staffing, at the beginning of the year, was down 3.6 percent compared to pre-pandemic numbers. Even still, customer attitudes towards perceived staffing issues are essential to pay attention to.

Does Restaurant Staffing Have an Impact on Guest Experience?

Recent data compiled by HungerRush illuminates how customers perceive their dining experience amid labor shortages. The information gathered shows that today’s consumers are noticing a diminished experience as a result of fewer staff members. In fact, more than half of customers believe that independent establishments have been affected by not having enough staff members to fulfill basic service requirements like taking orders promptly, preparing food, and handling deliveries.

Guests and Longer In-House Wait Times

According to HungerRush, diners are noticing longer wait times from order to service.

  • 33 percent of diners feel they are encountering longer wait times to get their food. This, in turn, is causing some dissatisfaction in their overall dining experience. 
  • 17 percent have felt that placing an order is also taking longer. Which, again, is leading to a diminished experience.

Overstressed Staff Members and Diner Experience

Team members who have to take on more duties due to labor shortages also contribute to customers’ impression of an establishment.

  • 32 percent attribute overstressed staff to a lackluster dining encounter.
  • 57 percent of customers believe that a busy establishment will fail to take an order correctly if there are any modifications to their order.
  • 19 percent of call-in orders will decline to make any order adjustments if the restaurant in the background sounds hectic.


What these numbers reveal is labor shortages could be impacting the guest experience, which could be affecting a restaurant's reputation and profits. As HungerRush reports, 39 percent of diners are likely to post a negative review of a restaurant with staffing problems, inconsistent orders, and extended wait times. Improving the guest experience is crucial to maintaining great reviews and advancing your customer base.

How to Improve Restaurant Service During a Labor Shortage

If your establishment is navigating labor issues, there are plenty of tools at your disposal to enhance your customers’ experience.

Use Technology to Your Advantage 

Implementing tech to fill in service gaps is paramount to providing accuracy and boosting customer trust. 91 percent of customers will only wait on hold for 3 minutes or less, according to HungerRush. If your host or service staff are too busy to complete a phone order or reservation, you could miss out on a sale. Utilizing online reservations or automated phone services means your guests don’t have to wait on hold. 

To improve order accuracy, consider digital ordering platforms. QR code menus, self-service kiosks, and contactless payments give customers the autonomy to order and pay within their timeline. Plus, having digital options means less pressure on your limited staff. 79 percent of diners believe that technology improves their overall dining experience, so not only are you combating labor shortages, but you are also giving customers what they want.


Hire and Retain Strong Staff Members 

Restaurant workers seek out other job opportunities for three main reasons: higher pay (28 percent), consistent scheduling (23 percent), and personal development opportunities (17 percent). If you want to attract strong talent and enhance the guest experience, there are many ways to provide staff with incentives.

  • Offer competitive pay. Some restaurants, to attract and keep staff, are moving to a no-tip model to promise more consistent, higher hourly wages. 
  • Develop an employee referral program. Reward current employees with a bonus, extra paid day off, or gift card when they refer a new, stellar employee to your establishment.
  • Consider creating a health benefits and paid time off package.
  • Invest in your employee’s personal development. Tuition reimbursement, paid volunteer days, and opportunities for leveling up can help employees feel a sense of professional and personal growth.

Get Business Solution Help from US Foods CHEF’STORE

Use CHEF'STORE business services to boost operations and improve the customer experience. From team management and staffing resources to online ordering, menu design, and more, we are here to help!

New to CHEF’STORE and our bulk wholesale supply store? Stop by one of our nearby locations to check out our exceptional products and exclusive brands.

The information materials and opinions contained in this blog/website are for general information purposes only, are not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. We make no warranties, representations, or undertakings about any of the content of this blog/website (including, without limitation, as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content).

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