9:00 am - Chobani is making oat milk lattes and you best believe we're the first in line.
Trendy? Yes. Delicious? Oh yes. Phenomenal source of caffeine? YES.
9:30 am — Toast Team huddle at booth #6265. We're ready for day two!
10:00 am — The Case for Opportunity Employment: How to Address Your Business Needs While Doing Good
This conversation is about how investing in historically overlooked populations — both throughout the hiring process and once employed — can meet employers’ talent needs while creating positive social outcomes.
With high turnover being a challenge of the restaurant industry, we’ll hear from Kim Shin, the associate director of FSG’s Impact Hiring Initiative, and leaders from McDonald’s, MOD Pizza, HMSHost, and Hilton as they discuss their talent challenges, how they addressed them, and what the industry has to gain through this new approach to talent.
We start with a few definitions:
Opportunity employment is the recruitment, retention, and advancement of underrepresented populations.
Opportunity talent is people from populations that face systemic barriers to employment, such as military veterans and spouses, re-entry workers, people of color, 16-24-year-olds who aren’t in work or school, people with disabilities, refugees, and more.
We’re in a historically tight labor market in the restaurant industry, and the leaders on this panel are passionate about demonstrating the business value of rewiring business practices to improve opportunities for all Americans. Even though labor is tight, great talent is out there, and by investing in opportunity talent, we can take our restaurant businesses into the future.
A few stats from Kim:
One in seven 16-24 year olds are "opportunity youth."
38% of military spouses are unemployed.
One in three adult Americans have a criminal record.
According to the panel, there are positive benefits to employing people from underrepresented groups for the individuals but also for businesses. The leaders on this panel have seen a number of benefits:
Increased retention in employees from underrepresented groups. “Once these folks get in the door at a workplace, they’re loyal and hard working because they know they have a lot to offer.”
Increased retention in the general managers who hire these individuals, because they see the value they’re adding to the community and feel more connected to the business.
More diverse teams perform better. There are a ton of studies proving this, and the panel leaders have seen this in real life.
Existing employees feel more inspired and engaged with your business and will often raise their hand to be more involved, whether through volunteering or supporting these initiatives.
A boost to purpose-driven restaurants. There’s a ripple effect: It’s not just the impact on the individuals but the community around them. You can bring your business purpose to life and show your community you’re a positive partner and brand.
There are a few ways restaurateurs can take steps toward hiring, training, and retaining opportunity talent.
Seek out community-based organizations you can look to for support in hiring opportunity talent.
Provide life skills training. “This is not just important to focus on for youth but for anyone who’s coming into the workforce after a gap in work.”
Ignore the gaps in employment and look at the skills and experience these people have. Sometimes you have to ask more questions to uncover those skills. Do the work to find the answers.
Train your managers and staff on the value of these staff practices and how they can support the initiatives.
Flexible hours and remote options make work more accessible for some groups. McDonalds is in every community, providing a culturally and geographically accessible job, which puts them in a great position to have this level of impact on the world.
Help people work their way up towards a path to prosperity by gaining skills and experience that help them enter into other jobs in the future.
10:30am — Menu Forecast for 2020 and Beyond
Which flavors and aromas will be shaking up menus in 2020 and beyond? Foods and flavors that have long-term appeal to customers and help your bottom line, says today’s presenters Lizzy Freir from Technomic and Nancy Kruse, of The Kruse Company.
During the past five years, only three of the 23 biggest entree categories have seen an increase; of the 18 top appetizer categories, only six have seen increases.
So, how are restaurant owners and operators, chefs and kitchen managers keeping their menus fresh? Limited time offers (LTOs), specials, and add-ons – there’s been a 63% increase over the past five years.
Now, let’s dive into the biggest menu trends you can expect to see on plates and in glasses in 2020 and beyond.
First up, we touch on the macro trend spanning all industries and applicable to meal-service no matter the time of day: Health.
Here are the lifestyle and diet plans that are currently trending:
- Whole 30
Did you know that 38% of consumers are interested in Paleo? When it comes to gluten-free options, 11% are committed to it as a lifestyle choice - but the majority don’t really know what gluten-free is. This number does not include those who are living with gluten-intolerance-related gastrointestinal diseases. The other 89% who do eat grains are looking for restaurants to incorporate healthy grains into their menu items.
Alternative milks have grown in popularity as a response to dairy-free lifestyles and lactose-intolerant customers: hazelnut and cashew milk top the list, especially with Gen Z and Millennial diners.
Proteins and plant-based protein substitutes like blended burgers and outright plant-based meat alternatives are popular with meat and non-meat eating diners. Mushroom has risen over cauliflower in popularity as a meat or grain substitute; we’re even seeing mushrooms included in cocktails.
That being said: Beef isn’t going anywhere, but the way we approach meat quality, safety, and animal welfare has improved substantially. Wendy’s, for example, works directly with USDA auditors to ensure every patty in every location adheres to the strict safety and quality standards consumers demand.
Now that you have a handle on the trending tastes in restaurant’s today, let’s look ahead to 2020 and beyond.
Here are the biggest flavor and food trends Lizzy and Nancy foresee making their way first into independent restaurants and then into emerging chains.
Functional foods and/or remedies: These are ingredients that fix something in the body that’s naturally failing or needs enhancing, like an individual's outward appearance, physical health, emotional health, or mental health.
Some examples include:
Collagen and golden berries, which have been linked to weight loss.
Mushrooms and MCT oil, which have been linked to improving brain health.
Turmeric and nutritional yeast, which have been linked to improving brain health and gastrointestinal health.
CBD Oil, which has been linked to improved relaxation and assuaging bodily aches and pains.
Brands are also re-evaluating the inclusion of high-fat and/or high calorie ingredients — at the urging of their younger customer bases — and swapping in what Lizzy calls “healthful teases.”
Not only do these replacements improve health and overall body function, but they also help the environment by reducing demand for products responsible for increasing our overall carbon footprint.
Some examples include:
Plant-based proteins and plant-based meat alternatives, like the Impossible and Beyond burgers. Operators, chefs, and kitchen managers are taking these products beyond the bun, like in the case of Arooga’s, who put “ground” meat alternatives on their nachos.
Jackfruit: When prepared correctly, jackfruit makes a solid meat-free pulled pork alternative.
Coconut flakes, tamari, and smoke: Combined, they create a tasty vegan bacon.
Plant-based seafood and egg alternatives: Crafted using mung bean or hearts of palm.
Moving on from health, the next menu trend Lizzy and Nancy foresee coming to a concept near you (or maybe even your own) is found at the intersection of globalization, increased international immigration, and geo-politics: Asian fare and Middle Eastern fare.
Here are some of the Asian-inspired ingredients, flavors, and food trends currently emerging:
Chinese-inspired ingredients, foods, and flavors:
General Tso’s sauce ON EVERYTHING – Some have used it as a burger marinade, others as a chicken wing flavor, others use it as a condiment. This sauce is a Chinese-American creation with Hunan roots.
Kung-pow crossover, specifically into sushi.
Chinese chile crisp as a topping on meatballs.
Baiju spritzes on cocktail menus. These drinks leverage the summer 2018 Aperol Spritz boom.
Korean-inspired ingredients, foods, and flavors:
Kimchi: In a remoulade, kimcheese, or made with other fermented foods beyond cabbage, like dill kimchi. 43% of Kimchi menu appearances are in the form of add-ons.
Gochujang: As an aioli or sauce; some consider gochujang “the next sriracha.”
Japanese-inspired ingredients, foods, and flavors:
Ramen burger buns
Asian pear in miso, leveraged as a vinaigrette
Japanese whiskey. Did you know 59% of new whiskey cocktails are Japanese whiskey-based?
Gomashio on fried chicken
Yuzukoso on chicken wings
Here are some of the Middle Eastern-inspired ingredients, flavors, and foods currently emerging:
Chickpeas – They’re cheap, versatile, and nutritious. Chickpea ice cream offers diners a delicious, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan dessert option; same, too, with chocolate- or dessert-flavored hummus, like maple or vanilla.
Toum - A Lebanese condiment ("Toum" means garlic in Lebanese) made of garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to taste. Toum was profiled in Better Homes & Gardens' emerging condiments run-down.
S’chug (spelling is regionalized) - S’chug adds a flavorful heat to dishes, made with cilantro, cumin, and chilies. Starbucks just added it to their new chicken salad.
Kebabs - Kebabs have been around for a while now, but as owners and operators look for protein options that allow for better portion, cost, and food waste control, kebabs have seen a renaissance. Kebabs are also portable: According to GrubHub, kebabs were in the top three delivery foods this past year.
Israeli salad - nicknamed “middle eastern salsa,” Israeli salad has roots in Turkey and is made from cucumbers, tomatoes, olive oil, and salt; it’s traditionally eaten as a breakfast dish. Considering American tourism to Israel peaked in 2018, it’s no wonder American tourists return home and look for Israeli dishes to extend their experience.
Spice blends – Spice blends offer a way for operators, chefs, and kitchen managers to use rich Middle Eatern flavors while making a flavor profile unique to your restaurant.
Selanjabin (honey vinegar and mint) included in martinis.
Jalib (cardamom) as a flavoring in cocktails.
Next, we set our sights beyond 2020, as Lizzy and Nancy share their long-term predictions for menus in America:
A wide-scale re-examination of kids’ menus. Millennial diners are health-conscious, favoring sustainably, locally sourced ingredients, and an emphasis on the need for an ethical approach to food systems. By 2026, 80% of Millennials will be parents, meaning they will influence the future of kid's menus around the country. Big brands like McDonald’s have responded by removing antibiotics and artificial ingredients from their kids menu.
CBD in beverages. According to a 2019 menu trend survey conducted by The National Restaurant Association, CBD takes the top spot as the #1 drink trend this year. What’s interesting about this is that CBD wasn’t even on the list in 2018. Beyond beverages, we’re seeing restaurants experiment with CBD as a relaxing dessert ingredient: Astro Doughnuts has created a CBD-infused buttercream frosting.
THC in beverages. It’s important to note that two chemicals can be derived from the cannabis plant: CBD has no psychoactive effects and is largely used for medicinal purposes, whereas THC does have psychoactive effects, known to cause a “high.” THC is the main component in marijuana. In states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, like California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Oregon, brands like Lagunitas and California Dreamin’ have begun experimenting with THC bottled/canned seltzer beverages for 21+ consumption.
The Next Rosé is... lambrusco and/or orange natural wine. Lambrusco is an Italian, fizzy, red wine; orange natural wine is a sweet, orange colored wine made from (you guessed it) fermented oranges.
Menu items that look good in a video. In 2018, sparkle, glitter, and rainbow reigned supreme in viral menu items, from Starbucks's Unicorn Frappuccino to rainbow bagels. These menu items played to consumer demand for Instagrammable foods. Video, boomerangs, and gifs have overtaken simple photos in popularity, and diners have since pivoted to demanding food that looks great in a video. Butterfly pea flower is a great option: Yard House is currently using it as a key ingredient in their Magic Margarita. When added to alcohol, butterfly pea flower causes the cocktail to change color.
11:00 am — How Retailers Intend to Eat Your Lunch (and Breakfast, too)
Convenience stores, stores with checkout-free shopping, and even retailers like clothing and book stores are intensifying their efforts to steal meal occasions and snack sales from traditional restaurants. So we’re back at the learning center again this morning to understand the impact retail is having on customer traffic to restaurants.
Experts from the retailing world, Jackson Lewis from Winsight Media and Frank Beard from Gas Buddy, offer a look at how forward-looking retailers intend to raid restaurants’ turf with menu innovations and new technology. Fun fact: Frank is a consumer and convenience expert who once ate exclusively at gas stations for a whole month to prove there are healthy options.
Jackson says the real profit-driver for convenience stores these days is food service, which is why restaurateurs might increasingly see their customers purchasing food from retail and quick-service convenience establishments.
Frank says 78% of baby boomers say they visit convenience stores once a month, but that same percent of Millennials and Gen Z say they visit convenience stores once a week. This is why convenience stores are becoming a competitive threat to restaurants.
What strategies and tactics can restaurateurs build into our plans for 2019 and beyond? Consider how you can make your establishment more accessible to customers who are on the go, through things like:
Affordable snack menu items
Easy order-ahead and pickup
- Fast wifi and free coffee during downtimes
Faster table-turnaround times
11:30 am — Juiced up on Data — Why BI is the Secret Ingredient to Jamba Juice's Success
Restaurants generate a ton of data: sales in your point of sale, labor data through your restaurant payroll tool, food and beverage inventory, it goes on. But that data is meaningless unless you can turn it into something actionable. The problem is, you can’t fix what you can’t see. In this session, we’re learning how Jamba Juice was able to improve data accuracy, streamline communications among their departments, and reduce COGS by 6% through the use of business intelligence.
Raul Celorio, of ResureTek says, "We accumulate so much data across our systems, but our restaurant technology tools don’t always talk to each other, making it difficult for us to access the valuable information we need."
Restaurateurs don’t have time to crunch these numbers, so both technology companies and restaurant owners and operators need to create more opportunities for any user to access this data. Raul calls this “data democracy — making data available to the non-technical user without direct support from finance, accounting, or IT.”
Data needs to be approachable and easy to digest, and when it is, data democracy can save businesses time and money. Here are some examples of how Jamba Juice uses data to improve productivity and profitability.
Jamba Juice does inventory on Mondays, and every Monday Raul gets a call from a district manager saying, “I blew out my COGS this week.” So he looks at the data to figure out where to make a tweak or a change to save money. By looking at positive and negative variance, he sees that several locations are purchasing bananas outside of the system, which is an issue that can be easily solved to fix spend.
Jamba Juice’s line assembly is a well-oiled machine, and ingredient usage can be tracked to the scoop. If only a few staff members in a few locations are over-filling those scoops, it has a big impact on the larger business’ COGS. Being able to itemize and track ingredient usage down to this level through data is critical.
There is such a thing as too much data, so don’t overwhelm your users. Make information obvious and available. When Jamba Juice HQ crunches the numbers and distributes them to unit managers, they display core data with traffic-light colors to help managers easily identify and focus on the data that matters most to their location.
Ultimately, it’s important to purchase technology from providers that enable you to access your data through their systems.
The last thought they leave us with is this: Once you have access to your data, consider how you can incorporate cultural changes within your organization to encourage your employees to action on that data. Create opportunities through training and accessible data insights so that your team members can be curious and learn from what the data is telling them. This will ultimately help your restaurant business become more profitable.
12:00 pm – How Bots Can Turn Your Restaurant Back-Office into a Profit Center
So, what's the big deal with bots? It seems every technology blog these days is all about bots, bots, bots. Considering human error on data entry hovers near 25% yet drops to below 15% when used in conjunction with bots, it makes perfect sense bots are on the brain.
If your restaurant books were to be audited tomorrow, would there be mistakes? Yes! Humans make mistakes. However, with the advent of machine learning based on human touch, restaurants that use bots in their back office see their audit error rate drop to below .03%.
By automating data entry, calculations, and report generation, bots open a new world of reporting and analytics for your restaurant.
So how does AI work? Machine learning approaches restaurant management by asking the following questions:
Phase 1: What’s happening now in this business? The machine is able to then do calculations based on multiple data points to say whats happening today.
Phase 2: What data do I — the machine — need to know to make a decision?
Phase 3: What would I — the machine — recommend?*
*humans will affirm or tweak those recommendations
AI and machine learning improves constantly: The more it's used and data is contributed to its stores, the more it can 'learn' and improve.
In restaurants specifically, AI can:
Collect important data from siloed sources — your restaurant POS, payroll and accounting, and reservation platform data, for example — into one place.
Understand and learn the nuances of your business, from workflows to categorizations to classifications. It can then employ "if this, that" logic: If I see this data type, then I know to put it here or there.
Categorize and organize data so it can be queried and called up at any time.
Automate data entry and all tedious back-office tasks.
Push data entry into your restaurant accounting or payroll solution.
Find ways to maximize profit and reevaluate vendor relationships.
12:30 pm — The Benefits of Waste Reduction and How to Achieve Them
Is your restaurant on a path to a waste-free future? Consumer expectations, tastes, and preferences are changing, and this is redefining the pace by which we need to adapt. Today’s diners, especially younger consumers, view food waste reduction as important for the environment.
Speaker Kathryn Fenner, from Technomic, tells us how big of an issue this is:
Foodservice generates 16 million tons of food waste annually, and 25% of total food waste is in the U.S.
8 in 10 consumers think reducing food waste is an important sustainability initiative.
27% of consumers are willing to pay more at restaurants that focus on reducing their food waste.
42% of diners are more likely to visit a restaurant that implements food waste initiatives.
96% of operators think food waste reduction is important.
Only 1 in 5 consumers are aware of restaurants that are implementing food waste initiatives.
54% of restaurant operators have conducted a food waste audit either internally or through a third-party provider.
The good news is that waste reduction practices provide operational benefits as well, including cost reduction and greater customer loyalty. In this session, we’re learning about how restaurants can achieve the benefits of food waste reduction through menu and operational innovation. Here are some of the trending approaches Kathryn says restaurants are taking to reduce food waste:
Using technology to optimize food inventory and ordering
Increasing made-to-order options
Offering simplified menus
Recycling cooking oil
Re-using, repurposing, and up-cycling edible foods by using multiple cuts and parts of an ingredient for multiple menu items
Serving smaller portions
Up-cycling furniture or design features
Using imperfect produce or “cosmetically challenged” vegetables
Donating leftover produce and ingredients to local communities — platforms like Spoiler Alert can help you promote leftover food
Composting food scraps
Embracing nose-to-tail dining and using whole animals
Reducing packaging by buying from suppliers with strong recycling and bulk-packaging efforts
As a restaurant, it’s just as important to promote your use of these techniques as it is to actually do them. Consumers are increasingly interested in how their dining habits affect the environment, so explain the initiatives you’re implementing to your customers through your communication campaigns.
By embracing waste reduction, Kathryn says, you can improve efficiency, reduce costs, drive more guest traffic, and improve your brand reputation. To develop a strategy for waste management, ask yourself, “What’s my goal?” The answer to this question, whether it be reducing costs or promoting your business’ positive impact on the community, will help you determine which initiatives to prioritize.
1:30 pm — Culinary Demo with Andrew Zimmern
Zimmern kicked off his culinary demo to a packed house by talking about the positive impact restaurants can have in connecting people. “In restaurants, we haven’t always done a good job at celebrating diversity and global cuisines, but in my opinion, we all win when we all win.”
Zimmern talked about what would happen if we all sunk a ton of money into a country like Haiti, where we could grow unique crops and invest in the local food industry with the purpose of having a true positive impact on the area. “It’s important, as culinarians, that we support all kinds of ideas in food. I believe deeply in the power of adventure learning, so I love doing dishes from other cultures and parts of the world.”
1:45 pm — Build a Better Burger: How to Raise Your Price Point But Not Your Labor
The secret? Grass-fed patties.
They have an 80/20 lean to fat ratio, they're rich in Omega 3s and linoleic acids, they're stored frozen — with a shelf life of 180 days, four days if thawed — and they make a phenomenal upsell option for your staff. Charge customers a premium price for choosing a grass-fed patty over a traditional beef patty and you’ll make more money without increasing your labor costs.
2:00 pm — Signature 2019: The Future of Dining
It’s 1:49, and the crowd is flowing into the grand ballroom for one of the biggest sessions of the show.
This year’s “Signature,” the show’s most prominent session, is a panel discussion about the future of dining. Moderated by Dawn Sweeney, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association, this session is a conversation with key leaders about their thoughts on where, when, what, and how people will dine in the coming years. These leaders represent industry segments like QSR, full-service dining, c-stores, and grocery.
The National Restaurant Association kicked off the event with a video about how the restaurant industry has changed over the years. Apparently, at the first-ever National Restaurant Show, 100 years ago, the themes of the day focused on “labor challenges, spiking food costs, and government interference.”
The crowd laughed. Sounds familiar, right?
The panelists introduced themselves and their businesses.
John Cywinski, President of Applebee's: “2018 was the best performance for our brand in the past 25 years. This is a tough industry, so we don’t take that for granted, and we’re proud of where we are.”
Randy Edeker, Chairman of the Board, CEO, & President Hy-Vee: “Hy-Vee is a 90-year old brand, and for us it’s about following the customers — their lifestyles, needs, and desires — and providing what they want. We’ve evolved with our customers as best we can, and that’s how we speak to survival as a brand.”
Chris Gheysens, President & CEO of Wawa: “We’re a convenience store, but we think of ourselves as a restaurant-to-go. The culture that underpins our business is a melting pot of Philadelphia culture, being private, taking a long-term point-of-view, and putting employees first.”
Tim McEnery, Founder & CEO of Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants: “Our mission statement is that we create community. It’s about the authentic connections we try to make with our guests. The secret sauce for us, outside of the 5,000 wonderful people who work with us, is the relationship with have with our guests. It’s the authenticity of how we operate our business and create our food, how we onboard and train people. These things have enabled us to have the success we have.”
First, Dawn asks the panel about the increasing trend in off-premise dining. How do our panelists think about their business’ on-premise and off-premise options helping them be where their customers want them to be?
Dawn: “Businesses like Amazon are changing consumers’ perceptions of what’s reasonable in convenience. How do we keep up?”
Chris: "When you think about the desire for convenience, that’s now all online. Delivery and the on-demand economy is a delivery business. The broader thing for us is the last mile, which is something Amazon has talked about a lot. What role can we play, broader than food, in the last mile? We’re delivering well into areas where we don’t have stores, and if you’re located anywhere near a university, you’ll do well with delivery. We’re leaning on data to inform that.”
John: "Our objective in the off-premise space is to ensure Applebee's is top-of-mind. We’re a dine-in business, but today 13% of our business is primarily to-go. Third-party delivery is fascinating, because it’s exploding. Our view is that it’s being driven by Millennials, Gen X, and women. We love that segment of the business, and it’ll represent more than 25% of our revenue within three years. But the unit economics needs to work for our franchise partners. They secure full margin for dine-in guests and to-go, but they don’t secure full margin today with delivery. The current economic model is not sustainable, and it needs to evolve. We’re partnering with third-party delivery companies to ensure it works for our franchisees.”
Randy: “A young lady said to me recently, ‘I want you to be what I want you to be when I need you, and if you’re not, I’ll go some place else.’ The evolution is experimental right now. We’ve launched app ordering with our own app that we deliver on now. We’re keeping a focus on excellence and delivering quality through all of it.”
And what about wine delivery?
Tim: “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. To try and add delivery to our model, we wouldn’t be doing our operators any favors. We let the big operators figure out all the bugs and then we’ll jump in (laughs). We try to do everything very thoughtfully, so we’re taking our time. But it’s an incredible opportunity.”
The next question from Dawn was about inspiration, competition, and what each of the panelists would emulate from each other's businesses.
John: “We all compete for share-of-stomach. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or late-night. There aren’t many new ideas in the restaurant space, but when we find one, we capitalize on it.”
Dawn: “And the consumer wins when that happens.”
Tim: “We’re huge admirers, and it forces us to look at our business and make it better every day.”
Chris: “In every convenience store, sugary, salty snacks and soft drinks are in decline. We’re looking at new ways to grow, and we take menu inspiration from the folks in this room all the time.”
Randy: “Competition helps raise the bar. Attitudes are evolving, and if you’re going to do it, do it in a way that’s meaningful and sustainable and with purpose. We’re constantly watching and learning from what others are doing.”
Next question from Dawn: “Ideas, execution, or resources? Which one, on a daily basis, is most difficult for you and your brand?”
Tim: “Execution is the name of the game in our industry.”
Chris: “Execution. We can garner the resources, we have plenty of ideas, but execution is the most complex.”
Randy: “Execution. It’s the little things that kill you.”
John: “I admire those who execute consistently well. A great idea without execution is meaningless.”
Dawn: “What’s the most important thing you have to get right to make sure you have the confidence to grow?”
Randy: “We’ll open a 90,000 square-foot floor with 70,000 different items, and the most important thing is the one person standing in front of you. If you can make them feel special and important and leave with an experience that makes them want to come back, it works.”
John: “It always comes down to the general managers. I can have an average location and a great GM and it’ll hum. It’s leadership — it always has been. We see tremendous correlation between tenure and retention and average sales and growth. Our best-performing franchises have leaders who create a culture that people want to be a part of. That’s the secret, in my opinion.”
Chris: “I worry most now about the pace of change. It’s happening more quickly. Simple ingredients take only months to take off. Customers are getting more picky and demanding more quickly. I worry about how we’re prepared for that pace of change organizationally.”
Tim: “It’s our people, for sure. What is a great person? For us, it’s about discovering the values that are enabling our success. We’ve identified four values, and those filters are a part of everything we do, from the interview process to the training process and even the off-boarding process. Not everyone has those values, and some people weight them differently, so understanding the right great people for your organization is critical.”
Dawn: "What will your brands be like in 10 years?"
John: “I like the position the restaurant industry has at the moment. Americans are stressed, they don’t have a lot of time, and we’re that little, indulgent escape. I believe we fill the role of human connection. Technology and automation will be there, and we’ll probably need less people to run an Applebee's, but the human connection will always be there.”
Randy: "The opportunity has never been as strong as it is. Think about the diversification of our industry. In a lot of companies, you have leeway for folks to experiment and show what they’re made of. The biggest word for us has been ‘autonomy.’ We’re very decentralized. Employees should have the ability to adapt to what the customer wants, when they want it. The opportunity for young people today is enormous.”
Chris: “Strong emotional intelligence leads to great leadership. We’re focused on analytics and being able to manage data and get wisdom out of it. I think restaurants will need to do what Amazon does — match that level of personalization that customers are going to expect. Having that analytical, critical thinking, coupled with being an emotionally intelligent leader, will be important.”
Tim: “We talk about ourselves as being life-long learners. We all pick up on change quickly, and it happens fast, but we look to other industries to help innovate what we’re doing and keep up with the pace of change.”
2:58 pm — We're seeing a lot of plant-based foods.
The Impossible Foods booth has lines around the block all. day. long.
This guy from Götze Peelers was having the most fun ever.
Ocean Hugger Foods serving vegan sushi, and it was pretty darn good.
3:00 pm — The Key Characteristic of High-Performing GMs: Forecasting Competency
As the restaurant business continues to go through significant disruption due to rapid growth, technology, consumer preference, and the rising cost of labor, the ability to predict performance is more important than ever. David Cantu, Founder and Chief Customer Officer at HotSchedules, passes on what he’s learned during the past 20 years about the impact of consistent forecasting on general manager performance and success.
Here’s what we know about the issue, according to David:
- 37% of manager turnover is in full-service establishments.
- 44% of manager turnover in limited-service establishments.
- 19% of restaurants are short-staffed with GMs.
So why do general managers leave their employers?
Work-life balance. Because there are fewer managers today, the managers who do exist have less support, which only compacts the impact of stress and long hours.
Pay. David says general managers aren’t making more than they were 10 years ago. Hourly rates have gone up over the years, but salaries have stayed stagnant.
Lack of training. Our industry is lacking the resources to provide managers with the right restaurant education and certifications. Many of our restaurants today are being led by inexperienced and untrained managers.
Here are David’s six tips to building high-performing managers.
Design your day in the life of management. Too often, there’s a lack of discipline and consistency in daily restaurant work. Operationalize the day-to-day as much as possible.
Write better job descriptions. Review other job ads online to create clear, concise, and inspiring descriptions of who your particular business is looking for. This will help you attract the right talent for your restaurant.
Create a development path. Too many managers are thrown out onto the floor. Employees today want to be developed and coached, and there are tools out there to help you plan and implement training and development paths.
Provide tools to plan. David says most general managers spend about five minutes forecasting for the week. But today, GMs should be using tools and data to analyze the past six weeks and plan out the next week, looking at the things that might impact their businesses: How will holidays impact employee scheduling and labor planning, for example? GMs used to bring institutional knowledge to their restaurants, but because of high turnover in managers, that knowledge is lost with the departing employee. Technology can replace that lost intuitive knowledge by allowing GMs to use data.
Provide tools to engage and connect. When you’re communicating with team members today, the last thing you want to do is text. Communication that isn’t housed in your HR platform can be dangerous, and unprofessional communication like this adds to the perception that restaurant industry “isn’t a real career.” You need to treat restaurant work "like a real job,” says David. You should also use employee communication technology to give employees a tool to have a voice and provide feedback. For example, taking a daily employee NPS poll where employees can rate their shifts.
Sharpen characteristics that inspire high-performing teams. David explains how Bain & Company discovered the 33 characteristics of inspiring leaders. Talk to your team about what makes a great leader in your business, and define those characteristics for your restaurant with your manager team.
And the closing thought from David: If your managers are successful, your employees will be successful. If your employees are successful, your guests will be happy. And that’s how to run a successful restaurant.
3:00 pm – Reimagining the Drive-Through in a Connected Age
You’ve challenged yourself and your restaurant management team to think outside the box and innovate in the face of market saturation, uncontrollable costs, and hefty employee turnover. Great! But now that you’ve ‘innovated,’ how do you scale that new idea to be incorporated across all of your locations? Better yet: How do you use that innovative approach to grow your restaurant into a multi-unit enterprise?
Technology is the obvious answer, but that’s so broad. Let’s zoom in on consumer behavior and preference. Today’s consumers are sophisticated technology users: The average American household has 5.2 devices. This provides brands with a multitude of touch-points to interact with consumers and for a consumer to interact with a brand.
With the advent of at home smart speakers — think Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Google Home — we’ve officially been ushered into the age of voice:
There are 120 million smart speakers in homes across America
74.2 million Americans use smart speakers monthly
62% of speaker owners have bought items via voice commerce
Voice shopping via at-home smart speakers is projected to reach $40 million by 2022
However, only 7.9% of at-home smart speaker users are voice shopping for food and drink today. This makes the food and beverage space a largely un-penetrated area. Presenter Stephane Wyper thinks people need to get more comfortable with voice ordering and its reliability first before going full monty and using it to source meals.
Back to the 5.2 devices per household stat: The wide-spread usage by today’s technology users has left us with 2.7 zetabytes of data. How much is that? If you were to give every person on this earth — all 7 billion of us — 14 thousand books, that would equal 2.7 zetabytes.
All of this is fine and good, but how do you make this data useful for your restaurant?
Well, in recent years, there’s been a 64% increase in demand for personalized experiences from consumers. Back in 2012, 91% of retail was happening in the physical world, not online. This is when displays and touches came into play: From self-ordering kiosks in Toys R’ Us that made toy recommendations via details about your child and their preferences — then where to find their recommended toy in store — to way-finding experiences in malls that act as 3D navigation and increased sales for brick and mortar retail locations, self-ordering kiosks proved early on that technology could provide a reliable, personalized experience for consumers around the county.
Self-service kiosks have since become mainstream. We see them in ticketing at airports, check out at grocery stores, and acting as the default payment module at gas stations.
The restaurant point of sale is becoming smarter with the help of progressive machine learning and artificial intelligence. Mainly learning from customer behavior, point of sale technology that leans on machine learning and AI to make sales recommendations by factoring in weather, restaurant sales history, the amount of servers on staff and ability to fulfill orders, and inventory available in stock.
Restaurants that employ self-ordering kiosks see their guests spend 20-30% more because the customer can see and make decisions about their order before it’s their turn, including add ons. Guests also enjoy increased order accuracy since they’re the ones doing the order-inputting.
Self-ordering kiosks can also be used to upsell menu items to increase ticket size. In the case of one restaurant franchise, they did a test with an “opt out cookie”: the restaurant automatically added a cookie to every order but gave the customer the option to opt out; 99% of customers kept the cookie in their cart. The restaurant eventually had to remove the opt out cookie because their kitchen couldn’t keep up with the demand!
Big brands, like McDonald’s and Sonic, have been early adopters in the self-ordering kiosk craze.
This week, Sonic is rolling out voice AI drive-through technology to every location in the U.S. What’s the metric they’re watching? Throughput. These self-ordering, AI-powered kiosks let multiple people order at the same time and have the same experience across the board without having to wait for someone to talk to. This means Sonic can accommodate more customers at any given time without compromising the quality of their guest experience, a phenomenal example of innovation at scale.
The Sonic technology also uses natural language processing to detect accents and language inflections, then customizes the ordering experience with a tailored voice in order to provide a unique experience tailored to each customer.
These smart, self-ordering kiosks also lean on AI to power upselling. Here’s an example: On an 80+ degree day, the screen can recommend a refreshing slush, then follow up with the most popular options on the menu. Restaurants like Sonic are able to improve their margins with intelligent cross-selling
Here are three additional benefits of using AI and machine learning in conjunction with your restaurant point of sale:
Loyalty — restaurant point of sale systems that integrate AI and machine learning can enhance their restaurant loyalty program with the wealth of customer data they collect. They can then send tailored messages around upcoming promotions, upsell based on that customer’s buying behavior, and more.
Analytics — not only will you have rich sales data, but AI and machine learning can make inferences about customer behavior. Some examples: Why do people order X when the weather is Y? People in Region A share buying behavior with people in Region B we should tailor a marketing campaign around them.
Personalized Guest Experiences — in presenter Healy Cypher’s opinion, no menu should ever be the same for any two guests. He believes restaurant point of sale systems that integrate AI and machine learning have the competitive edge to tailor their menu to every guest, providing a unique and memorable dining experience every time.
4:45 pm — It's happy hour at the Toast booth, and we're celebrating another day done.
Before we depart for the day, we wanted to introduce you to three people who have been working tirelessly to make sure Toast shows up for our community during this event. So much love, time, and thought goes into events like this, and we wouldn't be here without everyone on the Toast team who's played a part in making the magic happen.
We've had a killer day chatting with customers, partners, and new friends, and it's time to sign off. Get some good sleep, everyone, and we'll see you bright and early for day three.