The average American eats out between four and five times per week, so the latest business trends in the restaurant industry could have a bigger impact on your bottom line than you might think. As the calendar flips to a new year, some of the things that will remain constant in this space are tight margins, fickle customers, and the struggle to retain talented workers.
But the restaurant industry will continue to evolve, and 2019 is sure to bring some changes. Whether it has to do with service, technology, or the experience, here are several business trends to keep an eye on in the coming year.
More Focus on Deliveries
That opening statistic might be slightly misleading as more and more people are electing to eat their restaurant fare in the comfort of their own home. Millennials have largely opted to cook less and eat out more, but some of those meals are ordered to-go.
In 2019, some restaurants could find that their dining rooms are quieter and their kitchens busier than ever. This might require re-tooling some menus to be more friendly to delivery and to-go orders and even downsizing dining room space, if there is the opportunity.
If your restaurant is in a space that is experiencing declining traffic patterns but an increase in delivery orders, you have other options. It might seem like a strange business model, but some restaurants are creating “ghost kitchens” that are only set up for food deliveries.
Ghost restaurants are a fairly new concept, but some already exist in larger markets like LA and New York. Some of these restaurants bring in even more efficiencies by creating more than one type of food concept. They also allow the owners to serve a diverse market and keep overhead (rent, wait staff, decorating costs) as low as possible.
Customer loyalty isn’t quite what it used to be, and it’s going to take more imagination to get more diners into your restaurant this year than it did in the past. The ones that are successful will find out what customers in the area value the most and then give it to them.
In some areas, it might be live music, tableside preparation, locally-sourced ingredients, or even dining with your pooch. For example, FreeRange Concepts in Dallas has found success by combining dining with dogs and live music. It’s a unique concept that the owners only hit upon by listening to their customers.
Some restaurant owners and consumer cringe when the word “automation” is mentioned alongside food or dining, but this is an emerging trend. While we’re a long way from having a robot prepare an award-winning sauce and do tableside service, there are some ways that automation can speed up the preparation process and cut margins.
While there is an upfront cost for this technology, automating some repetitive tasks in the kitchen can save a restaurant significantly in labor costs over time. These systems would also provide greater consistency and reduce human error in food preparation, all of which improves the experience for the customer.
While there are certainly many potential business trends on the horizon in the restaurant space, the ones you should pay the most attention to are those that improve the experience for the customer. A simple tweak to your business model can ensure that you are setting yourself up for a profitable 2019.
If you’re ready to set up a maintenance plan for your restaurant, we at ABS Facility Maintenance are happy to help. Our pre-screened technicians are ready to assist you today. ABSFM offers a wide range of services to the Restaurant and Facilities Industry. Contact us today and let ABSFM be THE source for all your facility maintenance and repair needs.