The Restaurant Group Blog

Restaurant Trends – Third-Party Delivery Expands among Restaurants

Restaurant Trends - Third-Party Delivery

As Third-Party Delivery Expands among Restaurants, Customer Base Broadens

 

Move over Domino’s, there’s a whole lot of restaurants doing delivery these days. 

A recent Los Angeles Times article about an NPD Group study reports an explosion of delivery by restaurants through third-party aggregators such as UberEats and GrubHub. In fact, the industry has seen a 20% increase over the last five years, according to Warren Solochek, NPD’s senior vice president of industry relations. NPD Group is a market research firm that recently published the study which monitored trends in food delivery between 2012 and 2017.

From the local deli to the big McDonald’s, why are so many jumping on the delivery bandwagon?

Looking at the study, Solochek believes more people are staying home, comfortable on the couch, streaming content all night long. Fewer people seem to want to bother with even fast-food drive-thrus, and restaurants are feeling it. “Restaurants have had to do something to get people to continue to use their product,” Solochek says.

Do the commissions to the third-parties pay for themselves?

Hard to say, yet, but the customer base broadens as people try restaurants they wouldn’t otherwise know about, much less drive out of their way to try. “If a restaurant isn’t in your neighborhood, you may not venture into that restaurant, so with delivery, we’re able to expand a store’s customer base,” said Jessica Lachs, of DoorDash.

Delivery is probably here to stay.

Kate Rogers reports for CNBC in “Postmates generates $1.2 billion since 2017, as on-demand economy heats up,” that this isn’t a trend, and experts like R.J. Hottovy, senior restaurant and retail analyst at Morningstar, believe it is here to stay, especially in urban markets. “I think where delivery works is really a byproduct of the market itself, how densely populated it is and spending patterns of consumers,” says Hottovy. “There’s been a debate over whether this is a fad or not, but I don’t think it’s going away.”

To find out if delivery services are the right addition to your marketing efforts, call or visit us at TRG.

What Restaurants Are Doing to Try and Lure Millennials

Restaurant Millennials

With millennials expected to outnumber baby boomers by 2019, it follows that businesses are desperate to capture and keep the attention of this social media-loving generation. Restaurants are no different.

Just Two Weeks Ago, At the Beginning of This Month, Applebee Released an ASMR Video on YouTube Aimed at Millennials

ASMR is an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s a tingling sensation often experienced at the back of one’s neck when watching or listening to something that affects you deeply.

The video by Applebee is an hour-long video of different proteins sizzling and cooking over a grill. The idea is that consumers will connect with the sounds and visuals of the cooking protein and identify with the brand’s comfort food.

So far, the video has been viewed 4000 times. An executive at the Applebee insists that the only way to capture the attention of millennials is to be a bit different and think of social media from a broader perspective.

Whether it works is a question yet to be answered, so we can only wait and see.

A Restaurant Conference in Chicago Recently Addressed How to Build Loyalty Among Millennial Customers

The Restaurant Revenue Growth Conference via notable speakers attempted to help restaurateurs generate ideas that connect with millennials and are in line with 2018 consumer trends. Numerous restaurateurs attended because they understood how important it is to capture Millennials.

Verdict

Across the United States, restaurants are coming up with different strategies to try and attract the Millennials. Social media is no longer enough, it requires something else, something different.

While the above strategies might not work for you, it’s critical that as a restaurant owner, you find ways to do the same because there is clearly a need for the restaurant industry to capture the attention of Millennials.

 

Restaurant Consumer Trends: Dealing With Declining Lunch Sales

Restaurant Consumer Trends - Lunch Sales

Restaurant Consumer Trends

 

At your restaurant, you may have noticed a phenomenon that is definitively occurring nationally: lunch business is sagging a bit more than it used to.

According to market research firm NPD, lunch visits were down 4 percent at the end of the year, a notable decline in a broader context that has restaurant business in general sagging at all times of the day.

Why Lunch is Losing its Luster

Simply put, people have fewer reasons to leave their homes. Busy office workers are turning into busy home office workers, no longer commuting to business districts that tend to support a healthy community of restaurants. Working from home increased 24 percent over the last decade.

On the more casual end, one-time lunch customers who used to work in brick-and-mortar retail are largely moving out of that flagging sector and taking on work as subcontractors. Rideshare drivers, online customer service, and many more options are filling up the economic strata that once had a regular base of workers commuting to the same location every single day.

How to Attract New Lunch Diners

Value is the main driver. Yet diners aren’t looking for the cheapest food possible; fast food restaurants have also seen a decline during this same period because while people are dining out less, they’ve also raised their standards.

Here’s how restaurants can improve their lunch business: Customers want consistent quality, for lower prices. This is a tough proposition for restaurants to meet, but it isn’t impossible. Smaller lunch menus built around the most popular dishes lower overall food costs, streamline kitchen operations, simplify the server’s role, and keep regular customers happy due to all of those facts combining at once.

Focus on serving a few great dishes you know your customers love, cut out the food waste inherent to maintaining a larger menu, and you’ll likely see greater earnings on your lunch business overall.

 

For help with your restaurant contact TRG Restaurant Consultants.

5 Things Every Restaurant Owner Must Know

Open a Restaurant

 

Owning opening a restaurant is a fun and exciting experience. However, there are things that everyone must be aware of going into the business. Here are the five most crucial things every restaurant owner must know before opening.

1. Know Your Concept- To be successful, a restaurant needs a clear concept. Often, people go into the restaurant business knowing what food they like to eat or cook, but fail to have a clear image of things like atmosphere, dining style, and decor. To begin, a restaurant owner must develop a concept statement. A concept statement will include your culinary theme in terms that are broad enough for menu versatility but narrow enough for identity. Next, describe the atmosphere and dining style. Dining styles to consider are buffet, casual, fast food, bistro, cafe, counter service, and fine dining. Finally, your concept will be complete when you choose the decor that provides cohesion of the menu, atmosphere, and dining style.

2. Know Your Customers – Identifying your target market is a crucial step. To do so, you must understand how your restaurant concept will appeal to this group. Think about your customer in terms of demographics like gender, age, race or ethnicity, income level and geographic location. These factors will determine to whom you will market restaurant and help you develop successful advertising campaigns. It will also serve as a guide for you to use as you further develop your concept.

3. Know Your Community – It is important to know the community in which your restaurant is located to best determine hours of operation, peak hours, pricing strategies, and special promotions. If you are located in a bedroom community you could expect to have a larger evening and weekend service, whereas a community of retirees would be markedly different than a college town.

4. Know the Rules – The restaurant business operates under a number of regulations from the health department to regulations involving pay. There will be state and local regulations as well. You must ensure that you are in compliance with all these rules and regulations before you can expect success. A few employment regulations to be aware of are the minimum wage and tips reporting requirement. Depending on the size of your workforce you need to also be aware of human resources issues such as documentation of employees and discriminatory hiring practices.

5. Know Your Bottom Line – Most people that go into the restaurant business, do so for the love of the food, not for the love of crunching numbers. Understanding the business side of things, however, is one of the most important things a restaurant owner should do from the start. If you are new to the industry, taking classes in hospitality management and hiring an experienced management staff are two important first steps.

To learn more about the restaurant and hospitality industry and to discover how we can make your dreams of restaurant ownership a reality, connect with us today.

10 Key 2018 Restaurant Trends To Look Out For [Part 2]

2018 Restaurant Trends

2018 Restaurant Trends (Part 2)

The restaurant industry is constantly evolving and changing, from marketing to delivery, to service – each segment of the industry has experienced a massive shift. This will continue throughout 2018 and for restaurants to succeed, it is important to keep an eye on what trends are emerging in 2018. Here is part 2 of 2018 Restaurant Trends:

6) Upscale casual atmospheres will be on the rise

Restaurants will need to balance upscale options with casual ambiances going forward as that trend seems to continue full-steam in 2018. While casual upscale dining might sound a little contradictory, it does not need to be.

Restaurants should focus on striking a balance between premium ingredients and offerings while retaining a level of casualness in terms of the restaurant atmosphere itself to provide customers that experience. This could extend to keeping bookings and reservations somewhat casual and allowing for more walk-ins, or with its decor and music choices.

7) Greater focus on aesthetics

In a world driven by social media marketing, restaurants must absolutely focus on the aesthetic value of their food. While that does not mean that quality or innovation needs to take a backseat, but there must be a greater emphasis on presentation and looks of the dishes themselves.

With more users embracing visual platforms such as Instagram to document their experiences, restaurants must consider how to incorporate that into the overall dining for customers.

8) Healthy options for children

With so much focus on the millennial market, many restaurants have overlooked how to make their dining healthier for adults and children. That demographic holds a significant market share, so it is crucial that they are not left ignored.

With the increased importance of healthy food and diet, restaurants should also look for ways to provide children with healthier and creative food options. Parents will appreciate the effort, and that will go a long way in building long-term loyalty.

9) Local wine, beer and alcohol pairings

Alcohol is an important part of menus and many customers enjoy having a local feel with both their dishes and the alcohol they choose to pair it with. For 2018, restaurants should research and look for local options to provide this part of the experience and really innovate on how to showcase the best of what the area has to offer.

Whether it is partnering with local distilleries, wineries or breweries for long-term menu inclusion or even designing pop-up events to showcase local alcohol with food pairings, there are many ways to get creative with this.

10) Greater inclusion for those with dietary restrictions

Many restaurants have dragged their feet when it comes to updating menus to accommodate different dietary restrictions. However, many customers are increasingly choosing to go vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free – just to name a few and that means restaurants must adapt accordingly.

Consider taking a look at menus that have not been updated for a while to see where these options could be fit with existing options. Or consider adding new dishes that will be appealing to this new set of customers and how you can create a great experience for them where other restaurants may not be able to.

 

Contact TRG for your restaurant consulting needs.

10 Key 2018 Restaurant Trends To Look Out For [Part 1]

 2018 Restaurant Trends

2018 Restaurant Trends (Part 1)

The restaurant industry is undergoing a constant wave of change, especially with the evolution of digital technology. From marketing to delivery, to service – each segment of the industry has experienced a massive shift.

This will continue in 2018 and for restaurants to succeed in the new year, it is vital to keep an eye on what trends are beginning to emerge for 2018 and strategize on the best ways to leverage these for individual success. Here are just a few that are sure to dominate 2018:

1) A major focus on sustainability

One major aspect of the business that restaurants must focus on in 2018 is sustainability. Whether it is zero-waste cooking or improved efforts to recycle and reduce waste – sustainability must be at the heart of it.

Not only is it necessary from an environmental point of view, but it is something that greatly resonates with consumers and can be incorporated into the restaurant experience as a whole.

Savvy foodies enjoy knowing that the food they are consuming is created under ethical and sustainable standards and this can be a major force in marketing and advertising as well for restaurants themselves.

2) Constant innovation

The truth is, digital media has contributed to setting much higher standards when it comes to food, presentation and menu innovation among consumers. Customers want menus that have a global feel, a range of diversity and the knowledge that the restaurant itself is dedicated to innovating the food experience.

For some, this might mean incorporating more exotic and different ingredients (this could include grains, powders, and ashes – just to name a few). Or it might mean rethinking menu staples to offer a fresh twist on classic items.

3) A continual embrace of technology

From an operational standpoint, it is imperative that restaurants continuously embrace technology and incorporate it as best as possible for a seamless experience. Automating key parts of the restaurant experience is one facet of this, as is using technology to really understand the core of your business.

There is now a wide availability of data that can be used to improve the consumer experience and that will become a major factor for success for restaurants. Using data and technology to really understand your customers and their preferences, and creating a customer journey accordingly will be a major trend for 2018.

4) Customizing the experience

Whether it is more choices in ingredients or creating an experience through rewards or loyalty program, customization needs to be at the heart of every operation.

Restaurantgoers are now increasingly expecting a level of personal service with their food experience, and restaurants need to able to scale their technology efficiently to deliver on this. This could start from the very beginning of the customer journey when they book their table to when they arrive, but that element of a personal touch must be there.

5) Seamless delivery integration

Speaking of personalization, customers also enjoy a new level of convenience that was not present before. Restaurants should increasingly look for methods to integrate delivery options as well in order to reach wide customer bases.

This might mean partnering with local delivery agents, or even starting with smaller steps to integrate takeaway options for customers as a starting point to see the level of demand for other options.

 

Contact TRG for your restaurant consulting needs.

The Perfect Recipe For Maximizing Your Restaurant’s Potential – Operations Analysis

Operations Analysis

Operations Analysis

 

It takes so much more than a few outstanding recipes or a single acclaimed chef on the payroll to raise your restaurant’s visibility in the ever-growing dining-out market.  With the public being educated by cooking shows that feature some of the world’s most beloved chefs, the bar is now raised, the gauntlet thrown, for dining-out experiences.

When patrons choose your establishment to spend their hard-earned money, they now expect the best; greeted warmly upon entry, seated quickly, immaculate and spotless table settings, something to “take the edge off” while awaiting drinks and appetizers.  If customers are comfortably seated and eagerly scanning the menu, that’s great–but if the meal and FOH service don’t meet their high expectations, the rest of their visit may soon be forgotten.

While FOH is the first impression your customers have of your eatery, your BOH must run like a well-oiled machine behind the scenes.  Efficient planning, productive prep and wait staff, proper equipment and counter space are obvious needs. Is your pantry well-stocked, freezers and coolers running at peak efficiency? Does your kitchen comply with all state and local health codes?  Is your staff properly trained, in the right place at the right time, willing and able to do what is necessary to keep things moving at all times?

How does your restaurant rate? Are unoccupied tables a reason for concern?  Is your menu trending? Does your wait staff ensure repeat business or are you losing ground due to poor productivity? Word-of-mouth advertising offers the most profit and potential for increased sales, and at TRG Restaurant Consulting, we look at your business, tell you what’s working and what needs an overhaul. We tell you what people are saying and show you ways to maximize your presence in a highly competitive field.  Let us help your restaurant set the bar for high standards in your community. Contact us today for an in-depth Operations Analysis, tailored to your specific needs.

Various industry leaders take credit for the phrase, “Lead, follow, or get out-of-the-way.” Now it’s your turn.

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.

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