How to Stay Ahead of Trends in the Restaurant Biz
When it comes to succeeding in one’s area of expertise, it’s important to look around at what the other guys are doing—especially when you work in a customer-centric industry. Customers’ taste for food or preference for dining experiences may vary based on economic bracket, location, age, or even gender, but the differences aren’t going to be that vast.
The best advice we can give is to keep yourself in the know. Regularly brush up on:
- Your segment of the restaurant industry
- Your locale
- Current trends in the restaurant and food industries
- Up-and-coming changes to customer service and customer experience practices
- Hot trends with millennials
While the first two points are valid and good to keep an eye on, we can’t stress the last three points enough—especially the very last. Knowing what’s hot and what’s not in general will be the key to lasting success for your business.
Did you know that millennials take up about 22% of the U.S. population? That’s about 68 million people. Did you also know that 45.2% of the money those 68 million people spend on food goes towards dining out?
Maybe you don’t think that matters to your business because you’ve always catered to the families of your small town, but millennials, if not already, will soon be part of that family demographic.
And their families will be equipped with their mobile devices and expecting a service tailored specifically them. It’s important to be relevant in the present, but it’s even more important to get ahead of trends now.
Here at Dineability we like to practice what we preach. We regularly scour the web for hot news in the restaurant industry to see what the big trends are and to see what’s got people talking.
These are some of our favorite points of recent that we think are not only relevant to what’s happening in the industry today, but are a really good indicator of what’s to come and how to prepare for a successful future in it.
“We’re living in a digital age where consumers share every detail of their lives via social media. Is your food ready for the challenge?” – Eateria (@myeateria)
We reported last year on how mobile technology is changing the face of restaurants. It may not be a change we’re entirely happy with, but it’s one we need to embrace since it’s not going away any time soon.
Eateria makes a really good point here, along the lines of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” And we’re all for it! Talk to your BOH management about spicing up the color palettes and layouts of their dishes.
We’d also suggest they consider playing around with sound and texture as well. If you’re going to start shaking up the customer experience like this, you might as well see how far you can take it.
With most phones equipped with Instagram and other social media apps, everyone has become a professional photographer and food reviewer these days. Why not give them an experience (i.e. your food) worthy of a snapshot if they’re going to take that photo anyway? Help yourselves to some free publicity while giving your BOH team an opportunity to be more creative.
“You need a cloud-based scheduling solution.” – WhenToManage (@whentomanage)
This is another suggestion we’re totally in love with. There have been studies that show how much money and time you’re losing when employees show up late for work or don’t show up at all. It’s something to the tune of a loss of $3,600 per worker per year. That’s not including the time you spend trying to find coverage for them or stepping in to help on the floor when you can’t find anyone else to do it.
And, really, this applies to any industry you work in. The days of pen and paper and Excel spreadsheet tracking and scheduling are fading into the background. Get on board with the cloud and get your restaurant signed up for a cloud-based scheduling application. It’ll save you time, money, and frustration.
In addition, it’ll also give your employees the ability to take more ownership over their schedule and (perhaps? hopefully?) be more responsible in the case they do need coverage for their shift.
Everyone’s moving to the cloud these days, and there’s no reason why the restaurant industry shouldn’t be making strides towards it now either.
“Sick restaurant workers ain’t nothin’ to mess with.” – On the Fly with Food Service Warehouse (@FSWarehouse)
When we saw earlier this week that Senator Thom Tillis believes it’s an employee’s right to wash his or her hands, we couldn’t help but laugh. Then we saw this On the Fly piece and were truly thankful there are people out there taking the side of common sense and safety when it comes to our restaurants and the general public.
This is somewhat related to the absenteeism bit covered in the last section, though this goes way beyond that. This is the issue of how to deal with sick employees and how to prevent further spread of that sickness to your patrons. Food-borne illness really isn’t something you want to mess around with.
It’s a valid point they’re making too, right? Do you look the other way when one of your seven servers on an already short-staffed evening shows up sick? Or do you pay extra money to allow for sick days so you can keep them from potentially spreading their infection not only around the restaurant, but among the rest of your staff who may then show up to work sick for their next shift?
This is what the technology sector would refer to as business continuity planning—being prepared for anticipated disasters and establishing a set plan to deal with it, if it should happen.
Take care of your team and take care of your customers. Play your part in the safe and healthy delivery of food in your restaurant and don’t listen to any Senators who claim to know more about our industry than we do.
Contributor Suzanne Scacca is a FOH veteran of the restaurant industry and who now writes about the joys of cooking and consuming food.