Customer Story: How Smooth Soft VR Training Saves Restaurants Time and Money

Learn how Smooth Soft VR training for restaurants saves time, money, and food waste. Discover how they manage their XR programs remotely.
smooth soft vr training blog hero

The Company

Smooth Soft builds VR training for quick-service restaurants (QSRs) to quickly upskill new employees, eliminate food waste, and reduce training time and trainers. Quick and efficient training is essential to keep up with customer demand in an industry that often has high turnover rates.

While most traditional QSR training can take 30-40 hours to train an employee, VR training with Smooth Soft prepares new employees to work competently on food lines in an average of 3-6 hours.

The Problem

Most large QSRs are spread across cities, states, and countries. With every new app or app update, Smooth Soft would need to send apps and files directly to customers and have them manually install headsets.

VR can feel overwhelming or confusing for new users, especially if they aren’t tech-savvy. As VR training is becoming an essential way effectively train employees, Smooth Soft realized they needed a simple way to deliver their training content.

The Solution

Smooth Soft uses ArborXR’s kiosk mode to control the headset experience so that employees, supervisors, and trainers can turn on headsets and focus on VR training. ArborXR allows Smooth Soft to distribute apps and app updates remotely, locate headsets across the globe, track session analytics, and control what users see and do in VR.

The Early Impact of VR Training in Restaurants

What if you could cut down restaurant training from weeks to hours? Smooth Soft is doing exactly that. While most traditional quick service restaurant (QSR) training can take 30-40 hours or more to train an employee, VR training with Smooth Soft prepares new employees to work competently on food lines in an average of 3-6 hours.

Co-founded by restaurant owner Rock Levasseur along with manager Emilie McDonald, Smooth Soft creates VR training simulations for quick-service restaurants. Their technology helps employees rapidly learn processes and recipes in an engaging, risk-free environment.

What are the most significant benefits of VR training in QSR settings? Reducing food waste and training time.

“When there’s an opening of restaurants for big chains, they hire 80% more people than they need to. Why? Because new employees would either leave or not be a good fit for the business. For training, most restaurants spend weeks closed, having new employees make food, only to throw it away,” says Rock Levasseur, CEO and co-founder of Smooth Soft. 

Smooth Soft’s VR content eliminates food waste in training and can condense long hands-on training to just a few hours.

With VR training, new restaurants can open faster, with less wasted food and smaller training budgets. Existing restaurants use Smooth Soft to onboard employees, helping them become competent even more quickly to keep up with customer demand.

Smooth Soft: The Beginning of Restaurant VR Training

Levasseur has lifelong restaurant experience, starting in kitchens at just 14 years old. He opened his first restaurant, Olivia Bistro, in 2018. It was an instant success, with lines out the door from the first week.

Soon after, the pandemic hit. The restaurant industry has faced immense challenges ever since – from the COVID-19 pandemic to staff shortages and high turnover.

Levasseur describes this difficult period: “We laid off 24 employees, but luckily, we could stay open because our restaurant was considered an essential need: takeout. When we fully re-opened, the demand was amazing, and we very quickly opened three more restaurants right after.”

A rapid expansion during COVID brought hiring and training challenges, “We hired 120 employees in 24 months, and I saw that we had a problem with training. There were too many people to train. And the people that could train didn’t want to train anymore. We were serving 300 people in an hour. New employees were in the way if they didn’t know what to do.”

Olivia Bistro couldn’t handle training new employees.  It was a common experience that people would experience the first shift, get extremely busy with hundreds of customers, and not have enough dedicated time and space to train– and then they would quit.

During this time, Levasseur saw VR’s potential to solve these problems. He spent a lot of time discussing with his co-founder, Emilie McDonald, how they could save time and money with VR training for his restaurants. 

While Levasseur tried coding himself, he couldn’t quite get the VR training right. Shortly after experiencing a game on the Oculus app store called “Hand Physics,” he realized that precise hand-tracking was essential to their project.

Levasseur reached out to the developers of the game and connected with Lucas Martinic (the current CTO of Soft Smooth), who is an expert in hand-tracking software development. With his technical expertise and Rock and Emilie’s combined experience as chefs and trainers in restaurants, they went to work fine-tuning VR training for restaurants.

Smooth Soft VR Training

“We’re the only VR training company made by and for the restaurant industry. We know the language of restaurants and the language of coding,” says Rock Levasseur.

Levasseur sold his restaurants and is now solely focusing on solving the problem of training in QSRs with VR. Now, Smooth Soft is pioneering VR training for restaurants, servicing several QSRs, and launching several new initiatives in the US and Canada.

Smooth Soft In Action

So, how does Smooth Soft work?

First, Smooth Soft takes the food line of one of their customer’s restaurants and integrates it into their app. All the raw ingredients and tools are mapped out exactly as they are in the restaurant. This gives new employees their bearings. They learn quickly where everything is– which is half the battle of working on a food line.

“Even if they don’t know all the recipes by the end of the program, they can go on the line, and they know all the reference points. They know where the spoons are, where the ingredients are, which ingredients to use, and what order you do things in. They learn five times faster or more,” says Levasseur.

Next, employees spend three or four hours in the headset. There’s a guided robot instructor in VR who gives instructions throughout the training; even users who might be less tech-savvy always know what they need to do to complete the training module.

Employees often describe the training as fun and intuitive– which is an added bonus.

Steven Waters, a supervisor at Olivia Bistro, says, “I had never experienced VR before. I was hired fast, and on my first day, they handed me a VR headset. I was nervous at first, but once I got into the training, I had so much fun. The next thing I knew, it was three hours later. I learned so much, and I wanted to do it again.”

But besides it being a fun training experience, the real magic is that employees make as many mistakes as they want. They repeat the same recipe continually until they learn it. No food waste. No customers are waiting or getting angry.

Instead, restaurants receive employees fresh out of training feeling confident and ready to apply their new skills.

Challenges Using VR at Scale

Without a robust device management system for XR, any VR headset can be challenging to manage at scale. Smooth Soft needed a tool to track and support devices, manage them remotely, and control what users see and do in the headset.

When restaurants are spread out across dozens or hundreds of locations, they need a way to quickly and easily send content.

Otherwise, they would have to send new APKs to customers for every update and have the customer manually download the app to their devices. This process (also referred to as sideloading) adds a lot of friction to XR deployments.

“We did some research and found ArborXR. It’s a total game-changer. We set up headsets for our customers and provision them with our content and ArborXR. Then, from there, we manage them remotely, and it works perfectly,” says McDonald.

Now, every time there is a new app update, Smooth Soft uses ArborXR to push updates remotely over WiFi. This ensures that the latest training content is always available and ready when employees need to train.

ArborXR’s kiosk mode locks down headsets so employees can only access Smooth Soft content. This means new employees won’t get lost navigating menus or get distracted by web browsers or app stores.

ArborXR’s device management allows Smooth Soft to scale its operations as demand grows. They can onboard new customers rapidly, ship pre-configured headsets, and track usage.

“With ArborXR, you can see things down to a granular level – the location, session usage, battery life, and even see if any have WiFi issues… If there’s a problem, you can remotely view what users see so you can help with tech support.”
Rock Levasseur
CEO & Co-founder at Smooth Soft
“For example, we have a VR app where patients catch butterflies. They don't realize that we're making the butterflies fly in specific patterns so that the patient is making rehabilitative motions for their arm... It’s a game, so it’s engaging for them, but it’s also providing them with essential strength and relief.”
jim gleason of myndvr
Jim Gleason
VP of Product, Sales, and Operations at MyndVR

By making physical therapy fun and motivating, MyndVR allows patients to engage more easily and work through rehab with a more positive attitude and overall experience.

Final Thoughts

Smooth Soft is pioneering a new way to train QSR workers and showing the massive potential of VR for restaurant training. Precise hand-tracking and realistic simulations prepare employees for food line work well before they ever face the stress of a long line of customers. Not only that, but their VR training eliminates food waste, cuts down on overall training time, and frees up trainers to work on other tasks.

Streamlined device management from ArborXR allows Smooth Soft to deploy its platform quickly across multiple locations.

As more restaurants adopt solutions like Smooth Soft, employees can look forward to better training, faster skill development, and engaging learning experiences. VR training helps build a more skilled, stable workforce while improving operations. This emerging technology points towards a brighter future for the restaurant industry.

Interested in getting started?

Experience AR & VR device management made easy. Start using ArborXR free today. If you have any questions, visit our product page or email us at [email protected].

Subscribe to stay in the know!