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Brick-and-mortar businesses are becoming a thing of the past with the immense growth of the e-commerce industry. Today, consumer trends show that it is all about quick, convenient and high-quality customer service, which is why fast casual restaurants are still thriving. However, not all restaurants are seeing this upside. Overwhelmingly, it is the brands that are customizing their services and keeping up with emerging technology trends that are gaining a competitive advantage in this ever-changing marketplace.
With the rise of convenience-driven technologies, labor challenges and an increasingly informed consumer population, there are new hurdles which fast casual restaurant operators must now face on a daily basis. Besides the rising labor cost and constant struggle to attract and retain talent, the main challenge is finding ways to “do more with less” and incorporate automation into the limited-service restaurant environment.
Here are three ways in which restaurants can assist with this challenge:
1. Implement technology to address the onboarding and ongoing training programs that will help in both employee retention and education of the industry’s ever-evolving policies and procedures. This technological adaptation will help mitigate the negative impact of the projected 130-150 percent employee loss.
2. Leverage automation technology in both the front- and back-of-house in order to enable employees to be more efficient. The automation of simple tasks helps to expedite most routine processes, which reduces human error, speeds up deliverables and allows for more units to be moved by fewer human hands.
3. Keep menu prices down. Rising labor costs will undoubtedly continue to be an uphill battle for many businesses, as more focus is being placed on raising minimum wages while trying to keep food costs low. Restaurants must ensure that their price points are still attractive to the target market — the budget-minded consumer.
These solutions allow greater oversight and control of many aspects of the fast casual restaurant business. Having an awareness and comprehensive understanding of the status of the business enables operations to see where their gaps are and allow them to quickly respond in a positive and impactful way. Additionally, since QSRs sell commodities, customer experience is key to winning market share. The easier and more enjoyable a brand can make it for customers to order, pay and receive their food, the more a brand grows its mindshare when it comes to the customer’s next purchase.
The fast casual restaurant industry will always have its challenges, and operators will continue to look for the next big trend to entice and attract consumers. From an operations standpoint, their challenges remain the same in terms of streamlining processes, gaining greater insights and looking to new avenues for increasing revenue, whether that be through new restaurant designs and interactions, technology or trends like mobile ordering.
Additionally, a great many of these technology solutions can be implemented by partnering with a company that is familiar with a specific industry and capable of delivering the solution that helps meet and exceed a brand’s uniquely individualized objectives.