QSRs: Born for the integrated tech that customers demand now
Consumers are sold on convenience, and convenience is connected to speed. When I can order my entire grocery list, delivered to my door in a day or two, my expectations for how quickly I should receive my restaurant orders changes, too.
This trend has many customers — who, long ago became frustrated with long restaurant wait times — now opting to forgo that Friday dinner out altogether to enjoy meals more quickly and comfortably in their own homes. That's also the environment that increasingly QSRs are investing time and energy in. Brands are moving faster than ever to delivery to please all those customers who can't tear themselves away from a marathon Netflix binge and now demand restaurant deliver to them, where ever they are After all, when you can order a meal through a text message or emoji, why leave your apartment and the cliffhanger on the tube?
This is a particularly optimistic trend for the QSR industry. For instance, a recent survey found that nearly 66 percent of those interviewed said they visit a quick service restaurant once or twice a week year-round. But, with customers demanding more convenient dining options, restaurants now have to be particularly malleable and ready for changes, like the need for new technologies as well as new employees to meet these growing demands, while also still retaining current staff and finding an adapting business models that work well in a "change environment" where delivery and take-out are key services.
However, while delivery and the ordering process in general, both have gotten far easier for customers, they're much more complex issues for restaurateurs. Adding delivery and any type of mobile ordering are expensive, time-consuming and often distracting endeavors for staff and leadership at any QSR or restaurant, in general. For many, adding these services means adding hours, personnel and even hardware.
And if ultimately the delivery technology a brand chooses isn't integrated with the restaurant or restaurants' POS system, servers are left having to manually enter orders, an open invitation to errors. It's no wonder that many in food service see takeout and delivery as an opportunity cost rather than a pure opportunity.
The Secret Sauce: Technology
The best technologies are those that truly integrate and work with each brand's needs, workflows and goals. This usually means integration directly into a restaurant's POS, which is the central nervous system of the business. Thus, by using the POS as the central framework, everything from orders and customer information, to operational analytics and even bookkeeping, become more efficient, accurate and useful.
This is why we see restaurants sprinting to new mobile and cloud-based software to manage their businesses. These solutions are less expensive, agile and attractive than the clunkers that run on old Windows software. These solutions also offer a future that promises to integrate best-in-class solutions, including inventory, labor, online ordering and accounting.
As a case in point, one need look no further than the aforementioned integration of a brand's online ordering with its POS. Since this action allows communication between the two systems, things like multiple menu updates, manual order input and crisscrossing between tablets, essentially go away.
So, just as the consumer app and device makers have worked to make the lives of their customers easier, modern restaurant technology does the same thing for restaurateurs. Through these types of systems, multi-unit management converts to a quicker, mobile task that's driven by insights and data working seamlessly together with different apps and functions.
For today's QSR to stay successful, this integrated use of POS and related apps and mobile ordering has become a key to overall market-worthiness. That's not just because this type of integration is easier or quicker, but mostly because this type of enmeshing of functions can really keep you're brand heading in a direction that is constantly in lock-step with customers' expectations.
The restaurant industry at large is in a state of flux right now. And, while more casual concept restaurants are experiencing sluggish numbers and fewer customers, QSR concepts are inherently more nimble and better positioned than most to take advantage of the direction the industry is heading.
QSR concepts have an innate ability to move and grow quickly, particularly in relation to service and delivery speed. So while today's customer increasingly demands more options, particularly in the areas of delivery, take-out and mobile ordering, QSR concepts are born ready to adapt to such changes.
The bottom line is meeting customer demands quickly and fully, whether that be delivery options or kiosk ordering or any other time-saving tech. In other words, the tech is there to meet the demand, the question is whether a brand is ready, willing and able to move with the times.
Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Customer Service / Experience, Equipment & Supplies, Mobile Payments, Online / Mobile / Social, Online Services, Operations Management, PCI Compliance, POS
Jesse Noyes is the Senior Director of Marketing at Upserve, the industry's leading full-service Restaurant Management Platform .www