The Restaurant Group Blog

Today’s Restaurant Consumer Demands

Is Your Menu Meeting Today’s Restaurant Consumer Demands of Online Convenience, Healthy Options, and Price?

Restaurant Consumer Demands

As you analyze your business and forecast of the trends for the remainder of 2017, there are several questions that you may be asking yourself. As restaurants have a greater and greater online presence with delivery services and online ordering as well as increased concern about healthy diets and where our food comes from, knowing what market factors to focus on and what trends in your customers’ behavior to focus on can be a tricky matter. One key question is, is your menu meeting today’s consumer demand?

Some of the most important factors according to forecasted 2017 trends include robotization, the growing focus on whole food ingredients, and a balance between convenience, novelty, and price.

Technology 

Customers are looking for convenience. Increasingly,  this is taking the form of app and online menus, being able to order ahead while still customizing orders, and even delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash. Additionally, consumers frequently turn to review sites and restaurant websites to decide which restaurant to visit. It is critical to establish an online presence. At a minimum, you need a site that is mobile-friendly, easy to follow, and functional. However, you will also want to ensure that your business has online reviews, and, if it’s in your business model, is accessible to customers through those online delivery services.

Health

Whether it’s a fad,  a temporary trend, or a long-term move towards whole foods, fresh ingredients, and healthy options, most consumers are increasingly educating themselves about nutritious options, healthy alternatives, and organic or non-GMO ingredients. This can impact your food costs as the healthiest, freshest ingredients are often the most expensive. If you focus on a market that cares about these healthier options, knowing how to plan based on an operational analysis is critical to reducing food waste and additional expenses.

Price

Being concerned about the bill is not a new trend for 2017. But increased uncertainty has led to many middle- and lower-class customers thinking about cheaper alternatives and cooking at home when possible. Though upper-middle class and upper-class patrons are not expected to be as affected, be sure to keep in mind how price increases are noticeable and can drastically impact consumer behavior. Depending on your business model, cultivating alternatives and additional options can help keep the menu price the same while giving your customer the convenient options and customizations they crave in order to make sure your business continues to profit and grow.

The restaurant business is constantly changing and our consultants at TRG can help you react to the shifting preferences and consumer trends throughout the rest of 2017 and beyond. Please contact us at TRG Restaurant Consulting  if you’d like to learn more about how the restaurant business as a whole is evolving and what we can do to work together and make your restaurant thrive.

 

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017 Mid Year Review

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017 Mid Year Review

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017

Now that we’re halfway done with 2017, it’s time to take a look both backward and forward at trends dominating the restaurant industry. Here’s what we’ve noticed is both hot and not in 2017:

Comfort food revival is more important than ever. Consumers are highly interested in modern takes on classic fare. More people are getting back to the “roots” of traditional-style foods, but this doesn’t mean they want Mom’s boring old meatloaf! Farm-to-table is also playing heavily into the equation as today’s consumer is more conscious about their food sources than ever before.

The attention span of your customers is getting shorter than ever. All restaurants want to reach out to their consumers, but your time may be counted in milliseconds rather than actual seconds these days. Rather than relying on email marketing, which is likely to be sent to a spam folder, consider switching customer engagement to text-based communication.

Paying attention to calorie counts is big. More customers than ever are paying attention to calorie counts, and since May 2017 there have been rules requiring that restaurants disclose these counts. Customers are paying attention to these and many do make purchasing decisions based upon estimated caloric daily intake. So make sure that you tell the chefs to not go heavy on the oil!

Healthy kid’s menus. Along with healthier eating for Mom and Dad, healthier eating for Junior is in as well. You’re finding this evidenced in everything from apple slices instead of fries and oranges on the kids’ dessert menu. Just like parents are paying attention to their waistlines, they’re also keeping an eye on their kids’.

Keeping on top of restaurant consumer trends like these is vital to our industry. We like to stay on top of it all – and so should you!

Why You Should Have a Feasibility Study Before You Start a New Restaurant – Reducing Risk

Feasibility Study

According to Restaurant Startup & Growth magazine, close to 25% of restaurants fail in their first year of operation. One way to mitigate the risk of restaurant ownership is to conduct a feasibility study before the business opens. A feasibility study examines an idea, identifies potential issues, and attempts to determine if you should proceed with the project or abandon it.

A carefully thought out business plan paired with a subsequent feasibility study will increase the likelihood of success. The key elements of a typical study are below.

Location analysis

A location can make or break a business, especially a restaurant. A proper site analysis includes potential issues and solutions, demographic information, current and potential competition, advertising options, etc. Even detailed statistics like traffic data (foot, road, and public transportation) are used.

Labor analysis

A business owner relies on staff to keep the operation running smoothly. A combination of demographics data and a favorable location increases the probability of attracting the right employment candidates for your business needs. And hiring the right person the first time reduces turnover and training costs, while freeing up the owner’s time to focus on strategic planning instead of the daily restaurant operations.

Cash flow projections

Cash flow projections are an important element of any business’ feasibility study, as without adequate income the operation can quickly succumb to debt and fail. Evaluating potential roadblocks and ways to overcome them before the business is open will greatly reduce the amount of stress on the business owner.

No business owner wants to fail, and careful planning ahead of time can reduce that probability. A quality feasibility study is a complicated task, requiring expertise, precision, and experience. You might not have the time required to complete it, so outsourcing this job to the experts is a wise choice.

 

Efficient Designs and Why You Need Them

Restaurant Design

In the restaurant industry, things must carefully be planned out. A well designed kitchen, bar, and floor plan is key to your success as an establishment. When we talk about designs, one might think about the visual appearance. That’s all good and well but that is not the sole factor you need to focus on. Looking good isn’t enough.

Layout

Whether you are renovating an established eatery or opening a new business, you should remain conscious of how things are setup. How much space do you have? What do you need to fit in it? Where can it go? Is your layout up to code? Can your layout provide you with the flexibility needed? These are all questions that you need to ask your self.

Brand and Concept

What should customers think when they come to eat in your restaurant? How should they feel when they sit at your bar? Do the designs of your space convey that? Does it compliment the finer points of your restaurant? Your aesthetics should convey the type of restaurant that you are and your customers should feel comfortable in them.

Efficiency and Economy

Your restaurant should be equipped to serve its customers in the way that they expect. Do your employees have the space they need to work in a way that reflects well upon your restaurant? Is your equipment cost-effective? Are you reducing costs where you can? Is your restaurant energy-efficient?

TRG Restaurant Consulting

TRG has the project services and restaurant consultants needed to help provide you with the productive results that you want. Our services include but are not limited to:

  • Architectural and interior design plan integration
  • Food-service layout and design
  • Professional installations
  • Project management
  • Mechanical requirements
  • Custom mill-work
  • Custom bars
  • Standard kitchen ventilation and extraction
  • Carbon filter systems and odor control
  • Make-up air systems and replenishment

For more information visit us.

 

Beverage Trends 2017: Coffee

Beverage Trends – Coffee

Beverage Trends Coffee

Are You Offering Fresh Coffee?

Is your drink menu full of only standard options and written in at the bottom of your menu corner? If so, you may want to consider adding in coffee, or a few coffee options, to join the growing market of restaurants that feature coffee as an all-day option and has a growing customer base of people stopping in to get a drink and a snack or to do some work at your tables.

A sort of Starbucks phenomenon is taking place in a wide variety of restaurants. Consumers aren’t always looking for a full sit-down meal or even a meal through the drive-thru window. A lot of the time, especially if your restaurant offers free Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi with purchase, what customers really want as a place to sit down with or swing by for a hot coffee, a cold coffee, or any sort of the numerous customizable drinks that have become increasingly popular. While coffee is still predominantly associated with breakfast and business offices, it is increasingly a universal drink  that can draw in a crowd — especially if you offer novelty, convenience, or both. Customers are looking for hot coffee for their commute, a cold drink for the afternoon, or sometimes even a late-night pick-me-up for when office hours or studying stretch out. Being the local restaurant or the reliable franchise that offers what your customers are looking for consistently can go a long way to not only retaining customer loyalty but bringing in customers looking for a snack or a quick meal, too.

It used to be that drinks accompany a meal. But with new trends, new consumer behavior, and increasing numbers of people working on the go, it’s turning out that everything else may be accompanying the drink. If you are looking to expand or want to further capitalize on this market of busy coffee drinkers, our consultants at TRG can help you devise new business strategies, start an operational analysis, and see where your business can grow now and in the future. Please contact us at TRG Restaurant Consulting if you have any questions or want to talk to a consultant.

Food Waste: Problem to profit through menu design

Menu Design

There are plenty of studies that will tell you that anywhere between 30 and 40 percent of the overall food supply in the U.S. ends up in landfills. According to a 2014 study, restaurant sector respondents reported approximately 84 percent of food waste was literally thrown away.

The impact on profit

The report estimates that almost 16 percent of all food waste is generated by the restaurant industry. On average, survey respondents generated 33 pounds of food waste per thousand dollars of company revenue. When you put that into dollars and cents, it adds up to a great deal of lost profit.

The restaurant industry is highly competitive and remaining profitable is the key to existence in this overcrowded marketplace. Food waste can be one of the largest hits to your bottom-line so menu design is an important consideration in determining how much food waste your business will generate.

Investigating the sources of waste

If your business is losing a considerable amount of revenue due to food waste, a restaurant consultant can offer insight into your main problem areas and help you close the gap on profit and loss. They can assist you in improving efficiency and reducing waste in areas such as purchasing, product handling, preparation and storage. Additionally, your production and services areas should be factored in as well.

Restaurant consultants recommend breaking up food waste into two categories, you will be able to see the full picture of where your food waste lies. First, consider the food you waste before it is served to the customer and secondly, consider the food that is left after consumption.

Before consumption waste

If you are wasting food before it gets to the customer, there are several matters you need to investigate. The first one is, are you purchasing too much? You are not saving money buying in bulk if you throw away products that have expired or gone bad. Begin by monitoring the items you are throwing away. Review your invoices and orders and define what you are buying too much of and analyze the vendors you are using.

Another possibility could be the way you are storing your food. Monitor your storage areas by going through your inventory and figuring out the best way for all food to stay fresh and unspoiled. Moreover, examine your food preparation methods and set up. If your prep station is not set up effectively you may be throwing food out due to prep errors.

After consumption waste

Auditing your post-consumption waste can tell you a great deal as well. For example, are people eating the whole portion? If not, reducing the plating size is an obvious choice. Also, things to take into consideration is food presentation including the wasted cardboard, styrofoam and plastic that is being used. This waste also needs to be managed to improve your profitability.

Menu design

After you have assessed your waste, you should reassess your menu design. A restaurant consultant can guide you through the process based on your waste assessment. If you need to either recreate your menu or business model from scratch or make tweaks to it, having a professional direct the process can end up increasing your profitability.

Whether you are a fast casual or full-service restaurant, changing up your menu is the key opportunity to minimize food waste. Deciding what you are serving, storing, preparing and packaging will impact your bottom line and your food waste carbon footprint.

The key to ending food waste is to reduce, reuse and recycle! Learn more about how menu design can help your restaurant reduce food waste on our TRG consulting service pages.

How to Increase Profits with an Operational Analysis 

Operational analysis for restaurants

Restaurant Operational Analysis for Restaurants

 

Let’s face it, the statistics for restaurant failure are not all that encouraging. Various studies indicate that only 10 to 12 percent of restaurants will survive their first five years. Regardless of how you slice and dice the numbers, the restaurant business is a strong and growing part of the economy. According to IBISWorld, industry revenue will grow an annualized 2.5% to $97.8 billion between 2013 and 2018.

Capturing a piece of the market

The reality is that only restaurants that achieve operational excellence will be able to grab a piece of the business market, and conducting an operational assessment will show you where you are losing revenue, as well as the procedures and practices that are hurting your profitability.

Running a profitable restaurant requires operational efficiency. Every aspect of your business from location and services to suppliers, involves constant oversight and an operational analysis. As a restaurateur, there are critical aspects to consider. Whether you are a startup or an established business, you need to begin with defining your goals and then evaluating your strengths and weaknesses.

Know your market

A SWOT analysis helps you determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business. Most entrepreneurs conduct these frequently to stay competitive in the marketplace. Here is an example of what a restaurant SWOT analysis would look like:

SWOT

Creating long and short-term goals

Restaurant trends, technology and target audiences are changing at a rapid pace. Regardless if you are a startup or an established restaurant, you need to routinely access your business plan by defining long and short-term goals.

An operational analysis provides the restauranteur with an overview of menu choices, location, hours of operation, operational costs, technology and your entire staff performance from front-of-house to back-of-house. This assessment provides a snapshot of where your business stands now and where you will be in the next years. You will be able to proactively and immediately begin to eliminate inefficient practices and expand upon the areas of productivity and revenue generation. 

Location Evaluation

Where your restaurant is situated is probably the most important factor of your business. Does your target audience live or work in the neighborhood? Are you in a high-volume area? Is there a great deal of competition in the vicinity? Can your customers park? Is your space large enough? As the old real estate saying goes, ‘location, location, location’! Diners rarely have time to wait for parking or drive far from their neighborhood. Additionally, being among other restaurants is not the big problem, it’s where the competition is located that can be an issue. Along with location, your hours of operation could be a factor. Can you open early to catch those commuters or can you stay open late for the college students who want to eat later? Choosing a location is often the first step in opening your restaurant, so know the area well.

Review your menu options

Whether your restaurant serves fine dining cuisine or fast casual dining, your menu is one of the driving factors of your success. Knowing your customer’s preferences will help increase traffic to your restaurant and decrease food waste.

Assessing the costs

Monitoring the bottom line on a regular basis is essential to your profitability. Are you buying your supplies from a vendor with high discounts or low prices? Are you getting value using the ingredients that comprise your menu? Is your staffing balanced for low and high-peak hours of operation? Is your rent too high? Finding the things that can reduce your overhead and improve productivity will enable growth and increase revenue.

Front-of-House and Back-of-House Staffing

Your staff can make or break you. In the restaurant business, good customer service is critical to your operation. Ensure your employees not only know what you expect but retraining them constantly and teaching by example is important. Mishaps occur, just remember it is how your staff handles them that will make the difference between a repeat customer and a bad review on Yelp.

An operational analysis is the only thing standing between the restaurant owner and profitability. Learn more about how an operational analysis works by taking a look at our  TRG operational analysis TRG operational analysis service page.

Panera, Chipotle and Starbucks Investment in Customer Demand

With new technology and capabilities being released on a daily basis, the consumer’s demand for the next new and exciting product or service is higher than ever. There is no exception when it comes to restaurants either. The top contenders in the restaurant industry have to stay on their toes and be ready to implement changes into their menus, services, etc. at a moment’s notice. Here are some innovative approaches and services from industry leaders that are changing the restaurant game:

5 Tips To Lower Your Restaurant Food and Beverage Costs

Food and Beverage CostsThis is one of the most frequently asked questions from restaurant owners and operators;

“How can I lower my food and beverage costs?”

In this article we will provide 5 effective steps you can take towards lowering your food and beverage costs. This outline encompasses the basic steps needed to get you on the right path to a more profitable business.  You will also find we have provided a very useful Menu Analysis Template to your use. You may download it for free in section 5 below.

Will An Operational Analysis Help Your Restaurant?

operational analysis

What is an Operational Analysis and how does it work?

In this article we’ll answer these questions and explore the benefits of an operational analysis.

Regardless of what industry your business serves, it never hurts to have a knowledgeable third party look at every aspect of your operations to identify potential areas of improvement. If you are a restaurant owner who is struggling, an in-depth study from a restaurant consultant can save your livelihood and help you rebound.

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