Restaurants Putting Guests in Charge
As guest traffic remains sluggish for 2014, restaurants are taking a new direction to get more bodies through the door. Trends like customization, mobile apps/payments and tabletop technologies are enabling guests take charge of their own restaurant experience.
The rising popularity of fast-casual restaurants has created a big problem for quick-service restaurants, that are scrambling to retain traffic and increase sales. Internationally recognized brands like Wendy’s and McDonald’s are testing a new concept that will allow guests to customize their meals. According to the NRN article, Wendy’s wants to position themselves as a “premium QSR brand.” While McDonald’s views customization as a “sales driven innovation” that would help them turn business around. Regardless, allowing patrons to personalize their meal, will attract the guests needed to gain leverage against fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle and Pie 5 whom specialize in customized ordering.
Mobile Apps & Payments
As we mentioned in our previous blog post, mobile apps and payments are great marketing tools to help restaurants stay connected with guests while staying ahead of competition. Starbucks, the first to use mobile payments, is now evolving their app even further by “testing the ability to order and pay ahead for pick up in units in a major U.S. market later.” If this innovative ordering process is a success, patrons will be able to order at the leisure without the hassle of long lines or butchering of names. While Jersey Mike’s new app features mobile ordering and a loyalty program that puts the guest in charge. “The customer is in the driver’s seat. We have a lot of bells and whistles for them — you can post to social media, you can locate a restaurant through Google maps, there is one-tap calling,” Hope said. “There are a lot of little convenient things for customers to make their experience better.”
The last major trend to discuss is the increasingly popular table-ordering devices. Earlier this year Genghis Grill, Chili’s, and Buffalo Wild Wings made major headlines when they started testing the tabletop technologies in their stores. And according to the study by Dr. Sheryl Kimes (Cornell) and Dr. Joel Collier (Mississippi State), table top technologies are here to stay as restaurant operators attempt to combat higher costs. The study, Customer-Facing Payment Technology cites “Faster-settlement, less wait-staff time needed, greater security, improved customer satisfaction, reduced labor costs, increased revenues, and access to better customer data” are all great benefits restaurants operator are embracing with open arms. However most importantly, table-ordering devices allow guests to move at their own pace creating their own restaurant experience.