To App or Not to App?
One of the questions I am asked as a restauranteur and marketer is “Should we have our own App for our company?” Well considering I have 460 apps on my iPhone, one might think my natural answer would be “Yes!” Having your own app has tremendous upside, from improving the customer experience, to increasing customer engagement to building brand loyalty. With that said, an app will only be successful if you have the internal team or right partner to manage and evolve the app.
Improving the Customer Experience:
The most frequent use of an app is to allow customers to order online. However, if this is your only desire for an app, there are plenty of other options that may be better suited for your operation. Many POS systems, such as Toast, Revel and Square, offer online ordering modules and there are also several dedicated food-ordering services available, such as ChowNow and Beyond Menu. Yes, there are costs associated by using these apps/platforms, but they may outweigh the cost of developing and maintaining your own app.
It should go without saying that in this digital age, for QSR, Fast-Casual, Juice/Smoothie and Coffee concepts, to name a few, it is almost expected to have an app or other online ordering platform to order ahead. By doing so there are a myriad of benefits to both customers and the restaurant. For customers, it reduces wait times – your order will be prepared while you’re on your way and you skip the line when you get to the restaurant - and it improves order accuracy as customers are in control of what/how they order. For the restaurant, this should improve efficiency and increase sales. With that said these are only benefits if the restaurant is staffed, and the employees are well trained. From a personal experience, as I travel a lot, I tend to use a well-known coffee company app and I am continually frustrated by the length of time it takes for my mobile orders to be prepared. It’s a constant mental struggle on how early to order – if I order too early, and if the restaurant is their game getting product out quickly, my coffee will be cold when I get there - however, if I don’t order early enough and the restaurant is not on their game, I may be waiting for my order, thus defeating the purpose of ordering ahead.
Increasing Customer Engagement:
A robust app can increase customer engagement by helping you stay in touch with your customers and consequently building a better relationship with them. An app can easily assist in - communicating the opening of new locations, announcing current specials or seasonal promotions, sharing company news, holding contests, running polls, or even soliciting customer feedback.
Some must haves that will build engagement are the forementioned mobile payments and online ordering, the integration of Table Reservations (if it makes sense for your operation), the integration with your social media, the ability for online food tracking, and location-based services such as geofencing and beacons.
Mobile apps also allow for greater chances of upselling a customer. As marketers we can easily analyze our menu and customer ordering habits and make relevant recommendations to customers when they order certain menu items. I.e., if a customer orders a burger you can naturally upsell them to ordering fries with that burger.
Additionally, with geofencing you can invite customers, who have the app and are near your location, a special offer thus increasing the likelihood of them visiting that location.
Building Brand Loyalty
On average the adoption rate of a traditional loyalty program is about 12%, but when an app combines mobile payments, online ordering and a loyalty program, adoption rates can be as high as 35%. And with greater adoption, you have greater frequency.
Mobile apps also give you the ability to target more value-seeking customers by allowing app exclusive promotions and in essence creating “digital value” to those who have and use the app. A recent survey showed that nearly 50% of Gen Z and millennial consumers are using digital couponing to combat inflation. A digital platform allows for more flexibility in targeting promotions to generate customized options for consumers. Having this ability will drive traffic without offering margin-busting blanket discounts.
There are also cost benefits for having an app. Imagine converting customers from ordering on delivery platforms to your own platform/app? By doing so you can improve margins and pass some of those savings onto your loyal customers with targeted promotions.
You can also use your app to personalize deals for customers. For instance, if a customer hasn’t ordered for a while, you can analyze their ordering history and remind them of their favorite dishes by using mouthwatering photos and possibly offering a discount on that item.
Building brand loyalty does take time for restaurant apps. Restaurants should go beyond offering a promo code for the customers first order and extend the offer to several subsequent orders to gain traction and loyalty. This may seem like a lot of discounting, but in the big picture it is not. Loyalty brings frequency and will help your business grow in the long-term.
Finally, as you try to grow and leverage your app, you can use your loyalty program to reward loyal customers for their referrals. It’s a great way to acquire new customers.
So, are you ready to get Phygital? Matrix Restaurant Consulting is here to help bridge the digital and physical experiences that will work best for growing and evolving your business.
It may seem like a lifetime ago, but pre-pandemic, I vividly recall being involved in executive meetings and struggling with how much emphasis (if any) we should put on off-premises dining – specifically delivery. Then the pandemic hit and our lives as restauranteurs changed dramatically, delivery became a necessity, and it was often the only option in generating revenue. And as we continue to look at the delivery sector, the statistics on growth and market share are staggering. (I chose not to list these statistics as I think we have all have seen them in some form or another.) But as we came out of strict lock-down and we look at our businesses today, it brings us back to the age-old pre-pandemic question – does delivery make sense for our business? And at what cost – from potentially damaging your brand, to cutting into already slim margins, to the negative environmental impact?
Some of the many arguments – both pre and post pandemic - for NOT focusing on delivery….
#restaurants #restauranttrends2023 #delivery #restaurantdelivery "takeout
Having run several restaurant companies that focus on healthy eating and with the current plant-based meat fad (yes, I think in general it is a fad, and I’ll explain later), I am often asked about my thoughts on plant-based meats and more specifically, what type of plant-based burger is best for their operation.
The begin, I ask two questions that are fundamental in finding the right solution. “Who are you targeting?” and “Are you replacing a current menu item?”
Who are you targeting?
There are two main groups to target by offering a plant-based burger on your menu – True Vegetarians/Vegans and Flexitarians. If your operation is just introducing a plant-based burger option, the answer to this question will determine if you should offer a plant-based meat burger or if you should offer a vegetable burger option.
Depending on the survey or poll, Vegetarians/Vegans represent 2-6% of the population. However, according to 2021 research commissioned by Sprouts Farmers Market and conducted by One Poll, nearly one in every two Americans consumes more plant-based meals than meat (i.e. a Flexitarian), with the flexitarian lifestyle proving more popular with Gen Z. Clearly, the bigger market opportunity is to offer a plant-based meat burger and appeal to the flexitarian.
Who has the best-in-class Plant-based Burger?
Nation’s Restaurant News is currently conducting a readers poll on “Which Plant-Based restaurant will be the first to go national?” And although this doesn’t answer the best-in-class question, respondents are very passionate about their choice. From a broader list, PLNT Burger and Nomoo are vying as the reader polls “most likely to go national first.” Additionally, BuzzFeed did a recent taste of - “All The Veggie Burgers From National Chains That We Could Get Our Hands On To Find Out Which Ones Are Worth It.” The PLNT Cheeseburger was rated 8 out of 10, the second highest score after the Impossible Whopper which was rated 9 out of 10.
What makes a great Plant-Based Meat Burger?
Interestingly, both PLNT Burger and Nomoo use Beyond Meat. And it appears from earlier articles that Nomoo switched from Impossible Foods. Please note, I am not endorsing one brand over the other, simply stating what I have found. With that said, there are some common themes with plant-based meat burgers.
The Burger Patty: Most restaurants are altering the plant-based meat to differentiate their burger. By way of blending the plant-based meat with vegetables, herbs, spices or other secret ingredients. Furthermore, most are making the patties thin. Think 5/1 or 6/1 patties versus a 2/1 or 3/1 patties.
The Burger Build: In almost all cases, restaurants are creating signature burgers, even with the common cheeseburger. For PLNT, the PLNT Cheeseburger has a Beyond Meat Patty, Caramelized Onion, Pickles, NewFields American Cheese, Green Leaf Lettuce, Roma, Tomato, PLNT Sauce, Potato Buen. For Nomoo, The NOMOO has a Brioche bun, nomon × Beyond Patty, nomoo sauce, American Cheeze, Pickles, Onion, Tomato, and Lettuce. Clearly a signature sauce and signature bun are must haves and having other unique ingredients such as caramelized onions, fried onion straws, smoked tempeh bacon or a different cheese like jack cheese will differentiate your burger.
Are you replacing a current vegetable-based burger?
If you are replacing a current vegetable-based burger, it is important to know who is buying this burger. Is it a flexitarian or a true vegetarian/vegan. If the latter, you will certainly alienate them and potentially lose this group as customers if you switch to a plant-based meat burger.
Numerous studies have shown that the demand for fake meats is almost entirely driven by meat eaters despite fake meat long being associated with vegetarians. And plant-based meat producers know this fact and realize the vegetarian and vegan aversion to eating animals means they're pretty weirded out by the hyper-realistic fake stuff too. Additionally in 2021 Food & Wine asked several longtime vegetarians what they thought about the plant-based meat boom. The common theme, these vegetarians agreed that more meatless options were only a good thing, but the idea of eating something that's formulated to taste more like meat was also off-putting. It's one thing if you swap your beef burger order for an Impossible/Beyond patty now and again; quite another if you long ago abandoned burgers altogether. Afterall, many vegetarians on the planet have been eating three meals a day without new advances in meat technology for years and they have already learned to live without meat.
Why I believe plant-based meat is a fad…
I do believe the demand for meat alternatives will continue, but the industry will not survive unless it continues researching a better product – focusing the needs on affordability and taste. Additionally, consumers are becoming more and more leery of the ingredients and the Orwellian technology used to produce some of these faux meats. I had the opportunity to try several faux meat products from chicken to beef to eggs to shrimp to poke-style tuna while attending the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago this year. Sadly, these products were disappointing in flavor and texture. And whether by chance or by luck, I had just sampled some amazing blue-fin tuna at one booth and then sampled the poke-style tuna at the next booth. The difference was night and day. I am truly supportive of finding necessary alternatives to meat for environmental and ethical reasons, and I realize you have to start somewhere, but we are not there yet.
If your company needs assistance in developing plant-based menu items for vegans, vegetarians or flexitarians let us know! We have an incredible network of talented chefs who specialize in each of these areas. Let’s Talk!
#plantbasedburgers #fauxmeat #burgers #vegetarian #vegan #foodtrends2022 #restaurants #restauranttrends
We are excited that Tony Tahmosh, CSW has joined Matrix Restaurant Consulting. I recently asked Tony to outline the opportunities and challenges operators will face in 2022 as they look at their beverage programs, specifically the future of wine sales and how to react to consumer shifts in wine consumption. Here's what Tony said....
State of the Beverage Industry
Consumer Beverage Spend in the U.S. increased by almost 2% in 2021, and is currently valued at $146 billion. Although wine consumption continues to decrease, the U.S. Beverage Industry is projected to continue to grow at an average rate of 1.7% through the end of 2026.
Here are some challenges and opportunities in today’s beverage world.
Some of the challenges operators are facing today....
Opportunities for Operators to Increase overall Beverage Sales
#Beverages #BeverageTrends2022 #wine #RestaurantTrends #Restaurants2022 #CBDFoodProducts #CBD
As we come out of the pandemic, consumers are returning to some sort of normalcy. But with COVID variants exploding, costs rising, product shortages and a shrinking labor pool, the Food Service industry will be forever changed. We can no longer run our businesses as we have in the past, as we continue to see uncertain times, and the resulting changes in consumer behavior. So who will succeed in the future? It will be the food service operator that evolves with speed and innovation and it will be the food service operator that really understands the impact of these times on consumer behaviors, not just following the current fad or trend.
In my January 6, 2020 blog, I made some predictions for 2020 and I feel many of these predictions will hold true for the future. As I look across the industry, we will see a continued trend towards healthy and sustainable eating, and diet-friendly menu options; we will continue to see an innovation in technology – from digital marketing and loyalty programs, to strengthening the e-commerce proposition, to cyber-security to contactless technology; we will see necessary changes in the delivery model; we will see Social Justice - beyond the buzzwords; and we will continue to see new food trends and renewed interest in classic stables - Italian, Mexican and Chinese, with a focus on regional specialties. In this blog, I am going to focus on the continued trend towards healthy and sustainable eating, and diet-friendly menu options.
In this post-pandemic era, there is pent up demand to dine out, but consumers are still cautious, and we will not see pre-pandemic sales and traffic for a long time. As a result, food-service operations need to continue to evolve and change in order to be successful.
#2021FoodTrends #2021RestaurantTrends #RestaurantTrends #Restaurants #FoodService
1 Cherryh Cansler, ‘Bold and light: Post-pandemic menu trends revealed’, Fast Casual, May 10, 2021, https://www.fastcasual.com/blogs/bold-and-light-post-pandemic-menu-trends-revealed/
The Impact of COVID-19 on Society
The economic and human toll COVID-19 has caused is devastating. As a society, we have resolve and will rebound from this devastating situation. As we look into the future, how will this impact how we live? Will our spending habits change? Will our social engagement improve? Will we cook more at home or dine out more? Some of my initial thoughts . . .
- We will see a baby boom in 9-10 months. After all, you can only play Monopoly so many times, you can only post so many times on Instagram and Facebook and you can only clean your cabinets so many times, so what is left to do. . . .
- People will be spend less on non-essentials and thrift store shopping will increase. So many of my friends and colleagues have mentioned that they are using this time to clean and purge. Many have also commented on finding clothes and other items with their price tags sill on them. Two things will come out this - we will spend less, thinking about all the unused, new items we have and people will find value in going to the thrift store finding these "new" items with the price tag still on them.
- People will be uber vigilant on health and sanitation. The days of getting a "B" or less on your health department inspection and staying in business will be gone. And the restaurants that understand that contactless is not a fad, but the future will succeed. It could be as simple as a contactless bathroom - from entering to leaving, you touch nothing.
- Restaurants will have to adapt their model as people will continue to cook at home and dine out less. Is the Grocerant the wave of the future?
How do you see this shaping our future?
#2020Trends #2020RestaurantTrends #COVID19Restaurants #Restaurants #Trends
Predictions for 2020
As we enter a new decade, industry experts and chefs have predicted so many trends for 2020. Here are a few trends that I predict for 2020.
Health & Fitness - 2020 will be a year we focus on food as an integral part of our lifestyle. There will be an emphasis on not only healthy food, but food that nourishes the mind and soul.
Our Impact on the Environment - our planet is in distress, and I foresee restauranteurs and chefs taking notice. As an industry we will continue to look for alternatives to plastics and polystyrenes and to sourcing food locally from producers who understand their impact on the environment and society. However in 2020 - we will see bigger changes - an industry that reduces waste significantly, an industry that reduces its consumption of energy and water, and an industry that looks at every product they are using and the impact these products have on the environment.
Vegetables and more Vegetables - menus will be more plant-based, with a greater use of vegetables and a focus on the connection between our food and the impact on our body, mind and soul.
More Conversation at the Table - restaurants will offer more communal tables and offer family-style offerings - thus encouraging interaction and conversation at the table.
"Dry 2020" - the "dry" trend will carry beyond January. Restauranteurs and bartenders will focus on more "dry" spirits - creating amazing "cocktails" that can be enjoyed all day. (And hopefully create a better name than "Mocktails!")
What trends to you predict for restaurants in 2020?
#2020FoodTrends #2020RestaurantTrends #PlantBasedFoods #Vegetables #sustainability #DryJanuary #Communal #HealthAndFitness
Gen Z is on the cusp of being our industry's major consumer with about 80 million members. According to a recent NRA Show panel, this generation will demand the non-negotiables:
- Good value and quality from restaurants, like the food found in fast casual.
- They also want inviting service and a welcoming ambience that makes them feel valued.
- They demand cleanliness and the highest standards of food safety.
Understanding Gen Z and how to approach their needs, will be critical for restaurants to succeed in the coming decades. Are you prepared for Gen Z? If not, let Matrix Restaurant Consulting assist you in preparing for the next generation.
For more on Gen Z, check out this article in Nation's Restaurant News.
What Gen Z Restaurant Consumers Want
Congratulations to Mathew Peters and Harrison Turone of Per Se for their victory!
The United States has won the Bocuse d’Or cooking competition for the first time. The prestigious biennial competition in Lyon, France, pits teams of two chefs against each other in a five-and-half-hour cooking competition. This year, Mathew Peters, executive sous chef at Per Se in New York City, and his commis, or assistant, Harrison Turone, who also works for Per Se, took top honors. This is the second time in the 30-year-old competition that Team USA has even mounted the podium in the contest. In 2015, the last time the Bocuse d’Or took place, Team USA, represented by Phillip Tessier and Skylar Stover of Per Se’s Yountville, Calif., sister restaurant The French Laundry, took the silver. Before then, the highest the U.S. had placed was sixth.
I competed twice in the US Preliminary Competition, but never made it to France. It is one of the most intense cooking competitions that anyone can compete it.
People report recently announced their Fourth quarter Workforce Index, and our industry will continue to face challenges in finding quality job candidates and will continue to tax restaurant operators into the last quarter of the year. It will be an especially difficult time as operators also face the pressures of decreased guest counts. It is a vicious downward cycle that will continue to result in restaurant closures.
So how can operators succeed in such a challenging environment?
For more information, here is the link to the People Report Article: 2016 Q4 Workforce Index
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