Welcome to The Toast Top 5. It’s our new project that will take you through the biggest trends going on in the restaurant industry right now. We’ll be looking at the latest news, tips, insights and observations across the country. So be sure to check back often to see what’s new!
In this episode, we're looking at the current financial trends in the restaurant industry, new strategies that Panera Bread is employing, the Starbucks dress code change, Pokemon Go, and the Toast self-serve kiosk!
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#1. Troubled Times?
Is the recent financial performance of restaurants a sign of worse things to come? Nation’s Restaurant News is reporting that same store sales for restaurants aren’t rising as expected. Instead, they’re falling. Analyst Paul Westra says that this rate of decline “reflects the start of a U.S. restaurant recession,” which if true, could signal another national recession in 2017.
However, this decrease in restaurant sales could just be a side effect of the drop in grocery prices. In fact, QSR magazine is even reporting that fast food chain Arby’s has seen 23 consecutive quarters of growth in same store sales. Either way, restaurants should be recognizing this trend in the industry and do what they can to appeal to more customers so they can keep their doors open. These news pieces that follow are some great examples of what you can do to keep guests coming into your restaurant’s doors
#2. Fast-Casual on the Go
Get excited, because one of the most popular fast-casual restaurants may start delivering right to your door. Nation’s Restaurant News released a report that Panera Bread will be expanding the delivery service they launched last quarter.
Currently, over 120 company-owned locations are offering delivery, and the trend has been adopted by more than 70 franchised locations. Moving into their third quarter, Panera has announced they plan to offer delivery at another 100 locations. In a time where industry sales are dropping, this move just might be a smart decision to appeal to customers in a profitable way.
#3. Express Yourself
You can expect to see a bit more flair from the people who make your morning coffee. Starbucks is lessening the control they have on their employees’ dress code, and while you’ll still see your barista making your drink with a green apron tied around their back, you’ll now see them sporting shirt colors of their choice, hats that better fit their personality, and maybe even dyed hair.
Mario Leon, who manages a Manhattan Starbucks says the move was based on Starbucks’ attempt to “boost morale” for employees, which is never a bad thing. However, there are still some strict guidelines, as Leon says that clothes that are "clean, hemmed, wrinkle-free and in good repair" will be required to uphold the professionalism at Starbucks. Now here at Toast, we think this is a great move by Starbucks. After all, happy workers are productive workers, right?
#4. You Teach Me, and I'll Teach You
When you work in a restaurant, you usually want to be the very best, like no one ever was. Now, restaurants are doing this with the groundbreaking new app, Pokemon Go.
Many restaurants are creating marketing campaigns and offering deals and discounts based on the augmented reality game. L'Inizio Bar in Long Island City claims they’ve seen a 75% jump in business by catering to those playing Pokemon Go, trying to catch as many new customers as they can. Its seems the Pokemon Go craze is here to stay for some time, so why not try benefit from it?
#5. A New Technology to Change Your Business
Is the restaurant experience headed out of your hands and into those of your customers? At fast casual and quick-service restaurants, it certainly appears so! To help increase order accuracy, decrease wait times, and create a more interactive and modern restaurant experience, Toast launched a new product for its customers earlier this month - self-order kiosks!
Kiosk ordering has already been successfully implemented at large chains such as Panera bread and Protein bar, with the latter reporting larger ticket sizes and order amounts due to the visual appeal of the interface. For the Toast kiosk, the programming behind the technology is great - it integrates with POS data and remembers a customer’s order and preference whenever they come in. Kiosks are the future - they aim to speed up the ordering process and improve the overall guest experience. If you want to learn more about Kiosk capabilities, check out the link to the product page below.
Standing Out From the Crowd
So even though the numbers are suggesting a tough time for restaurants, we can see that those that are constantly innovating, adapting to new technologies, and attempting to appeal to a wider audience are the ones that are beating the odds. Hopefully they can inspire you to do the same.
What are your thoughts on the topics we shared? Let us know in the comments below!
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