It was not that long ago when retailing had a single dominant rule for success: “Location! Location! Location!” Of course, even then, success in the food-service industry demanded a more complex command of aspects such as hard-earned intelligence regarding products, competition and customers. Today, access to such intelligence has never been more critical. Fortunately, regarding customers, it’s never been easier.
The Customer is Still the King
If there is any dominant factor now, it surely must be customer choice. True, both traditions and innovations can enhance your product offering, and industry research can help define your competitive landscape. But it’s knowing your customer preferences that truly delivers sustainable results. In essence, fully understanding consumers gives you information that helps you evaluate dayparts, deploy staffing, reduce waste, plan menus and initiate effective promotions.
Consider how dayparts in the food industry are becoming blurred, as illustrated by expanded demand for round-the-clock breakfast and dessert offerings, as consumers dictate preferences in real time via online orders or mobile apps. Meanwhile, families, friends and co-workers still seek a consensus in determining a single source for their group orders. Restaurants need to respond proactively by providing an easily accessible and user-friendly off-site menu that offers a wider selection (including meatless and gluten-free options), plus a seamless payment and delivery experience.
Knowledge is Still The Power
Without question, efficient staffing and managing of food & beverage inventories often determine bottom-line profit. But it’s consumer-behavior data that enhances such efficiencies. Keeping track of overall order activity (and knowing the preferences of individual customers) gives you amazing control in initiating new business opportunities, and creating customized one-to-one offers.
To be most effective, a proprietary app sets your business apart from other consumer choices. This requires added initiative, but the benefits are enormous, in terms of building awareness and capturing data (not to mention fool-proof order confirmation). Now consider how your menu, website and advertising can encourage consumers to download your app for discounts and promotions. Meanwhile, you get to ask how you can serve them better – and how you can reach them more directly. In other words, social media is writing a new rule for success: “Locating! Locating! Locating!”