Wall Street tells us more about ourselves than perhaps we really want to know. The pandemic has challenged and brought out the best in dining, and particular quick service restaurants. The changes are not only on consumer preferences, but also in the legal structure. In order to meet the customer demands, not only did the customer experience need to change, but also the capital structures needed to change. Restaurant chains are looking more, and acting more, like tech companies. That seems today to be the formula to raise the money necessary to run and grow a restaurant chain. Let’s look at how consumer tastes steer Wall Street preferences.

The Reality of Restaurant Management.

Every restaurant has staffing shortages. The “big quit” due to Covid-19 concerns affects restaurants perhaps more than in any other industry. Restaurant workers seek higher wages and better working conditions. Unions are seeking to organize the workers of the brands and obtain legal changes to the labor law environment to accomplish these goals. Demand for a higher minimum wage scares the restaurants, many of which have suffered during the pandemic, while other restaurants has exceeded expectations. Consumers are finicky, and they want the customer experience and the quality of food despite the challenges to management in the labor environment.

Franchise Companies Listen to Consumer Preferences.

Mobile and on-line ordering saved many restaurants. With the labor concerns causing short staffing, efficient ordering saves “face time” interacting with staff and, if properly implemented, improves speed of service. During the pandemic, many consumers rather interact with an efficient touch screen than be exposed to a human order taker or service person. More than ten minutes in drive through line, or more than five minutes at a counter, irks consumers. Consumers then balk if their food is not ready within two minutes of their ordering at a quick service restaurant (a “QSR”). In order to expedite the through put of restaurant ordering and presentation, restaurant management companies are implementing digital ordering efficiencies, training and kitchen equipment necessary to satisfy consumers.

Changing the Human Interaction.

Many restaurants are discounting orders by 10% if you order on-line to increase efficiency and to reduce labor costs. Some consumers welcome the opportunity to receive a discount. Others crave the human interaction. For those that crave the human interaction, restaurants spend more time than ever in educating the order takers to maximize the human customer experience. The goal is to increase accuracy, reduce the waiting, avoid lines and maximize satisfaction. This enhanced order taking training is coupled with email and text offers personalized to the consumer. Through the use of loyalty programs, the data collected can tell how Kim likes his/her plant based burger with the fixings and side. Kim merely enters his/her telephone number, email or card provided, and the last order is available for reference. Some folks like this but the restaurant must make sure it is not too creepy.

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