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Restaurant Executives Weigh in on Rising Labor Costs, Delivery and Design During Restaurant Leadership Conference 2018

Find out what we learned about rising labor costs, third-party delivery and more!

The HotSchedules team is back from the 2018 Restaurant Leadership Conference (RLC), and it feels like we’re still trying to absorb everything we heard and learned over the four jam-packed days.

This year, RLC celebrated 20 years of leadership by bringing together more than 2,000 restaurant industry executives and professionals in sunny Phoenix, AZ. On top of that, the four-day agenda featured 60 speakers across dozens of breakout sessions. (Yes, one of those speakers was Peyton Manning — a team-member of ours definitely went full fanboy for a second.)

If you couldn’t make it to the show, you’re in luck! We took copious notes and, while we could go on for days about everything we learned, we’re going to boil it down for you. Read on for our three big takeaways from the 2018 Restaurant Leadership Conference.

1. Operators Are Still Worried About Rising Labor Costs

Many factors are currently impacting the cost of labor in restaurants, and operators want to know to control them.

This was incredibly apparent during an innovation session by our own David Cantu, HotSchedules co-founder and chief customer officer. Cantu delivered his presentation, “2018 Trends Impacting Your Labor Costs,” to a standing-room-only crowd on Monday afternoon.

In his 45-minute talk, Cantu broke down some of the issues that are affecting restaurant labor practices, from new predictive scheduling legislation to advances in robotics and intelligent back-office technology. If you missed the session, we will be delivering similar sessions at the 2018 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, including a session with David on May 21.

2. Third-Party Delivery is Beneficial … but Risky

We’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant conference that didn’t tackle the delivery discussion. Michele Vance, chief sales officer at Service Management Group, opened her session by asking the audience where they stand on third-party delivery — is it good or bad for your business?

As it turns out, most of the session’s attendees were on the fence about whether third-party delivery services are a good thing. While these services are an additional revenue stream, there are a number of risks they pose to your business, including:

  • A lack of quality control
  • Your brand’s reputation is at stake
  • Potentially lost customers due to bad experiences

That’s why Vance concluded that restaurants need to consider three things before jumping onboard with third-party services.

  • Is third-party delivery right for your restaurant?
  • Which of the many services makes the best partner?
  • Do you have systems in place to avoid potential risks?

3. It’s Time for Innovative Design Thinking

Our team also thought a lot about the intersection of people, operations and technology during a session about design thinking led by David Schonthal, Kellogg School of Management Professor and IDEO Business Designer. Schonthal said that whether you are designing solutions, services or business models, you need to view the design process through a more human-centered lens.

From a software standpoint, that means always keeping the end user in mind. If you handed your solution to somebody on the street, would they know what it is? Would they be able to understand its core functions? And if not … why not? It’s a valuable insight to always consider when designing solutions for your customers.


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