Source: National Restaurant Association
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an age of uncertainty that’s hitting the restaurant industry hard. With social distancing in full swing, it’s more important than ever that restaurant owners and managers stay in touch with their staff in order to keep them in the loop about operations and updated on the state of the business. There’s no shortage of apps and platforms to help keep these teams connected.
Smartphone applications such as GroupMe and WhatsApp are commonly used as an alternative to traditional group text messages.
These free third-party apps eliminate the complications that can arise from text messages coming from dissimilar smartphone platforms (Apple vs. Android). Using their cell phone number, staff members can quickly create an account that they can then use to join group messages.
These apps both support Wifi calling (vs. relying on a provider network) as well as picture and video sharing, and they include the option to directly message individual or sub groups of members privately outside of the big group.
GroupMe also has the option to “like” messages in the chat; likes notify the sender and the rest of the group when a message has been received and acknowledged.
GroupMe offers the option to chat via text (SMS). If an employee is short on storage or doesn’t have a smartphone, he or she can still use GroupMe on their phone’s traditional text messaging platform rather than in the app.
WhatsApp, a product of Facebook, also offers a business version of the chat app that is specifically designed to keep small businesses in touch with their staff and customers. On the customer-facing front, restaurants can create a business profile to keep patrons updated on any changes affecting their hours or operations.
Some restaurants may opt for a private Facebook group. The news feed layout of Facebook groups makes it easy to view and search posts for key updates. With the option to make multiple people “page administrators,” multiple managers can make announcements from a centralized post username. Staff can easily react to or comment on announcements, as well as make their own posts in order to address concerns that they think multiple employees may share.
Platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Slack allow restaurants to have a more in-depth and streamlined connection with their teams.
These platforms go beyond basic messaging and sharing and are available as both a phone app and a desktop application; but they’re better suited to desktop use.
Slack allows a group to access multiple tabs set up by administrators for different topics and discussions.
This allows restaurants to set up a tab for each group of employees: from managers-only, to waitstaff, to a collective staff group. This grouping option allows managing staff to address only who they need to, making sure that everyone gets the information they need to without being flooded with announcements that may be irrelevant to them, or privy to private information.
Slack also has the option for managers and operators to make one-way announcements to their teams, allowing them to get information out without being inundated with comments and questions better asked privately.
Microsoft Teams offers a similar user experience, but with less emphasis on one group holding more administrative control over the team’s page. As a more collaborative interface, all staff regardless of position are able to share, comment, and post information.
This is ideal for management teams looking to have a private place to discuss details before being sent out to the general staff as well as for smaller restaurant crews that share similar levels of responsibility.
No matter what a restaurant’s needs look like, there’s a platform that will support the vital communication between operators and staff during this disruptive time.