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.

 

Opening a restaurant? Why you should have a feasibility study before you start a new restaurant

So you want to start a restaurant? How prepared are you? Did you know that there are several aspects of opening a restaurant that need consideration for success? Location, competition, management and staff, and market statistics are just a few of the areas that can make or break a new restaurant.

Opening a restaurant - you need a Feasibility Study

 

Location

Location, location, location! One of the most important aspects of any successful restaurant is location. While it is important that location of the restaurant be in a busy traffic area, it is just as important that the restaurant have ample parking for customers. A busy traffic area does not always guarantee success. It is also important to look at the style of restaurant you want to open and compare it with other restaurants in the area, and how the location will affect your customer flow.

Competition

What is going to set your restaurant apart from the competition? If you are offering a similar cuisine, as other restaurants in the area, why would patrons choose your restaurant over the others? Points to consider are the number of established restaurants in the area, price points of other the restaurants, and who is the target market.

Management and Staff

A good restaurant is only as good as the staff. What is your game plan on hiring the best staff to accommodate your customers? A successful management staff works well under pressure, is able to make split-second decisions, and have the overall success of the restaurant in mind.

Market Statistics

You have the perfect location, you have reviewed the competition, you have the perfect staff in mind, now you must look at the market statistics. Why have other restaurants succeeded or failed? It is imperative that you know the demographics in the area. If you plan on opening a restaurant that mainly focuses on family style dining, then you want to look at how many families live in the area; a community of young singles would likely not support your endeavor.

TRG can help your plan for success. Contact us today, and allow our experts to help with all of your planning needs.

Use Customer Tracking to Keep Up with Local Consumer Trends

Customer Tracking

You’ve opened your restaurant, eagerly awaiting the first trickle of customers to start streaming in. They start showing up, singly, in pairs, or in large groups, and they seem happy with the experience. But when they leave, you may never see them again. If you aren’t keeping track of your new customers, you could be missing a serious cog in the revenue-making machine.

Customer Tracking Helps You Understand Your Consumers

Gone are the days of consumer complacency. These days, your customers want the best you have to offer. But offering the best isn’t as simple as it sounds – what exactly is “the best”? How can you improve the restaurant experience? What kind of customers like to frequent your place, anyway? Keeping track of your customers, through loyalty programs, social media, or even simple feedback cards, provides an invaluable understanding of your consumers.

Customer Tracking Heads off Dissatisfaction

When you know what your customers want, you are less likely to receive complaints. And when you have good feedback mechanisms in place, such as a Facebook page and even an email address where they can directly reach you, you are more likely to appease unhappy customers before they leave negative feedback and for a locally owned restaurant, negative feedback can mean the virtual death of your online reputation.

Customer Tracking Reminds Hungry Consumers That You’re Open

Customer tracking is a two-way street; it allows your customers to interact with you, and it allow you to reach out to them. Simply asking for customers’ email addresses can allow you to periodically send them alerts when you have a new menu item, a special is going on, or hours of operation are changing. Send these emails out at just the right times and to just the right customers – think late Friday afternoon for families, and Monday at happy hour for college students and you will begin to see an increase in the amount of repeat business at your restaurant.

Without Customer Tracking, You Can Only Rely on Chance

Customer tracking gives you the boost your restaurant needs to thrive. Without it, you are an island floating in the ocean of chance, just waiting to see what the next wave will bring. Get personal with your customers, and they will have a reason to keep coming back to your place of business.

 

For assistance with your restaurant contact a TRG Restaurant Consultant.

Feasibility Studies – The Best Way to Maximize Restaurant Success

Restaurant Feasibility Study

Restaurant Feasibility Study

Starting any project or venture in the restaurant industry is a massive risk, and failure is common. Luckily, there is a way to pre-check the potential success of a new restaurant; it is called a feasibility study. As the name suggests, a feasibility study examines whether or not a project is feasible with the provided resources. Although there are many benefits to a feasibility study, the main ones are as follows:

Optimal Location

Feasibility studies examine multiple potential locations, as well as potential issues with said locations. Everything about these places is taken into account, from the demographics and foot traffic in the area to any natural or man-made barriers that could potentially affect business. For example, if one potential site is in a city center and another is on the outskirts of the same city, there will be different needs within the demographic. A feasibility study would take these demands into account and provide the best location for a specific restaurant.

Competition

When deciding whether or not to move forward with a restaurant project, considering any potential competition is crucial. A feasibility study will consider both direct competition and indirect competition. Direct competition is a company that produces a virtually identical service, while indirect competition is a company whose service could satisfy the same need. By examining both types of competition, a feasibility study can provide the most accurate picture of any potential competitors.

Staffing and Management Advice

Excellent staff can keep a restaurant running smoothly, and heighten the experience for customers. On the other hand, bad staff can quickly tank a profitable venture. A feasibility study can show the staffing potential of a project, as well as provide specific staffing and management advice for the restaurant. This helps avoid any staffing issues, as well as boosting the abilities of managers and staff.

A feasibility study will provide the best options for any new venture. If you think a feasibility study would help your project idea, feel free to contact us at TRG for more information.

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!

Restaurant Renovation Pt 2: Creating Your Design Concept

restaurant design concept

In Part 1 of this two-part post, we talked about how to decide if your restaurant is ready for a face lift. If you’re still reading, congratulations! You’re ready to modernize your business. Don’t start picking out paint chips and fabric swatches just yet, however – the best renovation plans are only complete with a fully formed restaurant design concept from the very beginning.

Who is My Clientele?

So you’ve decided that your current design doesn’t work for the crowd you’re hoping to attract — but who, exactly, are you trying to attract? Families? Businessmen? College students? Tourists? Every design and menu decision that you make has to be centered around your target clientele, so make sure you clarify exactly who that is before you go any further.

What Do I Want to Accomplish?

Making more money and attracting more customers are rather vague as far as goals go. Instead, consider things like, do you want to completely re-do the vibe of your space, or do you only have the budget to freshen it up a bit? Do you need to strengthen your brand image, or re-create it entirely? Clearly define your goals now, and your plans will roll much more smoothly later on in the process.

What Do My Current Customers Like?

In undergoing a renovation, you run the risk of losing customers who don’t like what you’ve done with the place. It may be a good idea to run an opinion poll for a few weeks at least before you start getting into the nitty-gritty of your renovation. You may be able to incorporate things that your current clients like, and get some ideas of things that new customers may want to see as well.

Who Am I Working With?

Unless you are one of the rare restaurant owners who can also contract a renovation project, you will be working with others to get your restaurant in shape. The right design team can make all the difference to the end result. Our dedicated designers at TRG Restaurant Consulting will listen to your goals and desires to help you design a space that meets your needs, and that your customers will love.

Restaurant Renovation Pt 1: Are You Ready for a Face Lift?

Renovation

Established business owners sometimes feel that updating or renovating their restaurant space is an unnecessary expense. After all, if it’s not broken, why fix it? However, you could be losing business if it has been more than five or six years since you’ve changed up the customer experience at your restaurant. If you think you may be ready to give your space a face lift, ask yourself these four questions.

Does My Dining Area Speak to the Right Crowd?

While you may have no trouble getting repeat business from the Baby Boomers who have had their morning coffee at your place for the past twenty years, your restaurant could have a lot more potential than that. Do Gen Y and Millennials visit often? Or do you have a space that is family-oriented? If your dining area is no longer a good fit for the customers you are hoping to attract, it’s time to make some changes.

Are My Competitors Making Changes?

You can’t base all your business decisions on what the competition is doing, but if several restaurants in your area have updated their space, it’s probably time for you to do the same. After all, you don’t want your clients heading over to the burger joint down the street simply because it looks newer.

Is There Enough Space?

In just about every industry, minimalism is becoming more popular, requiring more spacious areas with fewer things in them. In other words, people expect to have more room. Elbow-to-elbow cafes and crowded diners are just not viable restaurant spaces anymore.

Do I Like Coming to Work?

You got into the restaurant business for a reason — because you love serving food to people who love to eat it, right? But if it feels like a drag to step into your restaurant, a renovation could give you the boost you need to love what you do again. They do say that a change is as good as a rest.

At TRG Restaurant Consulting, we are passionate about helping restaurant owners create an experience that they and their customers will love. Stay tuned for Part 2, where you can find out how to create the restaurant space of your dreams.

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.

 

Food Trends 2017: A Health-Conscious Perspective

Food Trends

Many of the food trends anticipated in the near future will cater to individuals who have adopted a health-conscious lifestyle, and will span the gamut from good versus bad fats to seaweed and fermented foods.

 

Food Trends

Good Versus Bad Fats

Whereas low-carb, Mediterranean and paleo diets became popular in 2016, many experts this year expect to see a greater emphasis on foods high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as avocado, fish and nuts.

 

Food Trends

Plant Proteins

Plant foods, such as high-fat avocados, will soon constitute another major food trend. They have increasingly grown in popularity, as dietitians have long touted the heart-healthy benefits of a vegetarian diet.

 

Food Trends

Seaweed

A key ingredient in Asian food for the past thousand years, seaweed is low in fat and calories, and loaded in nutrients like Vitamins A, B and C, iron, fiber, zinc and magnesium. While seaweed chips have seen a recent surge in popularity, culinary experts expect the seaweed plant to receive wider acclaim in the coming months.

 

Food Trends

Fermented Foods

Holistic nutritionist Kelly Boaz calls fermented foods one of the top food trends of 2017. Fermented foods have been exposed to certain bacteria and yeasts. This process of fermentation, which can alter the food’s taste, can make the food more conducive to digestion. Boaz says it may among other things help improve mental health, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and help diminish the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

 

Food Trends

Manufacturers Now Make Meatless Burgers Taste Like the Real Thing

That’s right. In fact, soy and veggie burgers have now become indistinguishable from hamburgers in both taste and texture. The only real difference, aside from their substance, is their nutritional value.

 

Food Trends

Sorghum

In addition, sorghum will likely gain traction in the health food market soon. Rich in fiber and protein, sorghum is present in cereals and chips, and will appear later this year in such foods as protein bars and crackers.

For more information on including health-conscious food in your menu, please contact us.

Restaurant Trends 2017

2017 Restaurant Trends

The culinary scene in 2016 was all about matcha, food trucks, and farm-to-table. As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look forward to what your clientele will be asking for in 2017 restaurant trends.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Smarter Restaurants

From guest-facing digital ordering systems to takeout platforms catering to busy individuals, many modern restaurants are turning to technology to streamline the guest’s experience. While quick-serve concepts are typically the first to adopt new technology, high-end restaurants are also incorporating technical features to their dining rooms such as tablets and smart watches to keep the restaurant staff informed and operating in real time.

In 2017 expect more than just sandwich shops to utilize digitized custom ordering methods. The trend has already begun to expand to sushi restaurants and other popular lunch and after work venues.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Fresher, greener, cleaner ingredients

So many consumers today are concerned with clean eating, the sourcing of ingredients, and impact of their food choices. When selecting a lunch spot or where to place a dinner reservation, guests are more apt to choose an establishment with a clear commitment to the environment or new clean eating trends.

The “better burger” movement is one of the more prominent examples of clean eating coming to the forefront of American dining. From BurgerFi to Elevation Burger, these businesses are placing the importance of great ingredients and thoughtful preparation far ahead of heavy branding and low price points.

For those who are turning away from meat consumption, there are countless new concepts focusing on vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Even fresh juice bars are beginning to replace truck stop style soda fountains in high income areas.

The new year will likely usher in more concepts focusing on the fresher the better with their ingredients and menu planning.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Embodying that Homemade Feeling

Whether high end or fast-casual, so many new restaurants are embracing nostalgic and inviting atmospheres. Fine dining restaurants have always been exclusive, but many dining rooms are beginning to feel like an extension of someone’s living room rather than a sea of identical two tops covered in white tablecloths.

Staplehouse, a restaurant in Atlanta has gone as far as creating a unique entrance through a residential garage door in order to make guests feel as though they’re coming over to a friend’s house.

This intimate back to basics of hospitality is not limited to interior design, many kitchens are returning to basic cooking techniques and heirloom recipes to create a transportive and comforting dining experience.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Authentic, not brand-centric

It seems gone are the days of reigning restaurant chains complete with souvenir barware and menus designed to follow some sort of theme. Many of the newest and most successful restaurants pride themselves on their simple straight-forward concepts and the transparency of their menus. New restaurateurs and chefs are embracing the idea of doing one thing and doing it better than anyone else.

Ethnic cuisine has been on the rise especially in the last few years as the industry embraces the different backgrounds that make up today’s typical consumer. Coming with this trend to explore ethnic cuisines are millennials captivated by social media and the search for authentic ethnic cooking. With a largely global economy and a well traveled customer base, restaurants offering globally inspired foods need to claim their authenticity and larger established brands touting culturally inspired fare will need to face the music and convince restaurant goers that their offerings are as good if not better than the authentic cooking of a mom and pop startup.

Other ways restaurants are circumnavigating the modern consumers’ distrust of large brand names: combining forces with popular retailers, hotels, and even automotive brands. In 2017 expect to see more established food or restaurant brands partnering with high end retailers to present innovative mixed use retail and foodservice concepts.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Eastern Flavor Invasion

The Asian tigers have influenced the consumer economy in more than just apparel, electronics, and cars. These strong economic players and their accompanying dining preferences are now beginning to impact the American restaurant industry. Their numbers are growing each day from Asian inspired fast-casual concepts to elevating Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Japanese cuisine to a starring role in high end dining rooms breaking from their former home in your takeout menu drawer.

In 2017 prepare to see more Asian as well as African flavors being incorporated into menus, grab and go snacks, and even cocktail programs.

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