With profit margins averaging three to nine percent, restaurants are continually looking to cut costs. How do restaurateurs find efficiency gains to minimize costs without degrading quality or service?
The industry has since entered recovery mode, but returning to pre-pandemic levels will not be easy. Consumers have shown interest in returning to restaurants, but it’s a slow walk, not a rush. At the same time, restaurants are struggling with staffing issues, with recent research showing that one in three restaurant workers do not want to stay in the industry. This puts even more pressure on restaurateurs to carefully calibrate costs and protect profit margins.
Restaurateurs, however, have options to mitigate these challenges through technological innovation. A desirable option is to take advantage of low-power IoT solutions to provide energy and maintenance savings and lower operating expenses. Low-power IoT solutions are affordable, secure and reliable. These solutions allow restaurateurs to automate a range of routine tasks, such as monitoring refrigerator temperatures to prevent food spoilage, monitoring HVAC and plumbing systems to prevent water damage and improving of energy consumption.
Low-power solutions use significantly less power than more expensive cellular or Wi-Fi solutions to transmit data, meaning devices last longer without the need for replacement batteries, resulting in a total cost of inferior possession. Additionally, the solutions provide deep indoor coverage, requiring fewer access points, making deployment easier.
As restaurateurs look to cut costs, energy consumption is an obvious area to tap into. Restaurants use a lot of electricity for lighting, refrigeration, air conditioning and, of course, gas for cooking meals. A typical office building uses $ 2 of energy per square foot, compared to $ 12 per square foot for restaurants.
IoT-based automated energy management systems enable homeowners to reduce utility costs. One option is to deploy a monitoring platform that optimizes the use of cooling systems and air handling units (AHUs), which circulate and ventilate the air inside buildings. These systems integrate data from the power grid to modulate energy consumption when tariffs are highest.
An upward adjustment of just two degrees in hot weather can significantly reduce energy consumption. Due to automation and IoT connectivity, these systems require no human intervention to make adjustments and ease the burden of energy management for staff to focus on the customer experience.
Speaking of temperature monitoring …
HVAC systems are not the only area where temperature monitoring can cut costs. For example, IoT systems can track temperatures through sensors on fryers to maintain optimal levels for cooking efficiency and food safety. Systems can lower temperatures when they sense fryers are not in use and quickly raise them when needed.
Temperatures in refrigeration units should also be carefully monitored to prevent food spoilage and maintain quality. Usually, periodically checking temperatures and keeping a manual log for safety and regulatory compliance is an employee task. Checks are frequent and time consuming, removing staff from their responsibilities with a greater impact on sales and customer experience.
A more reliable and efficient approach is to equip refrigerators with IoT-connected sensors that monitor temperatures 24/7 and streamline the recording process. If temperatures fluctuate far from optimal levels, the monitoring system alerts a manager to take prompt corrective action. Automating this process minimizes errors, improves food safety procedures, and prevents inventory spoilage.
Prevention of water damage
IoT solutions can also help restaurants prevent water damage from leaking pipes and faucets, clogged drains, and faulty cooling units. Any of these issues can severely damage buildings and equipment and even temporarily shut down a restaurant. Each year, insurers pay $ 2.5 billion for water damage claims.
Using IoT monitoring applications, sensors can monitor water, humidity, and temperature to detect leak anomalies that indicate problems such as pipe leaks. If something goes wrong, the sensors use wireless connections to issue alerts and automatically trigger a valve to close to minimize damage.
Data from these sensors is continuously collected to help manage water use and reduce waste. The technology is beneficial in preventing damage that can lead to downtime and reducing water use where possible.
As restaurateurs and franchisees look to lower their operating costs, they should consider investing in low-power IoT solutions that automate time-consuming routine tasks. Profit margins will always be narrow in the restaurant business, but IoT solutions help boost competitiveness by modernizing operations. Restaurant owners need to invest in one or two solutions that have the most immediate return on investment, and then build on that foundation to not only increase efficiency and bottom line, but also improve the customer experience.