Where and how consumers spend money when dining out is shifting — and restaurants need to start preparing. Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are one of the main drivers of this transformation, noting 7 percent year-over-year growth in the second quarter of 2018; the largest share among restaurant categories and more than triple the growth of its closest competitors.
As more consumers come through the door, QSRs face unique challenges. “The fundamental question is, ‘How can you efficiently take care of a high volume of people without keeping them waiting?’” says Wil Cothran, senior vice president of business development integration at Bank of America Merchant Services.
QSRs that successfully integrate front-end technology — such as online ordering — and back-office management platforms are often best-equipped to handle increased consumer demand for quick service and convenience.
Diners want to choose when, where and how they order their food, with 82 percent citing convenience as a top concern when dining out.2 Enter mobile ordering.
“No matter the size of the company, the ability to offer mobile ordering — whether through a third-party service or in-house app — is critical,” says Sam Oches, editorial director of QSR Magazine. Consider that nearly half of all restaurants plan to add mobile technology in the future3 while almost 75 percent of consumers say they’ve used mobile devices to place food orders at least once.4
Restaurants adding mobile technology shouldn’t only focus on apps; mobile web ordering also will be critical to success. “It’s likely that only your most loyal customers will use your app. Everybody else is going to go to your mobile website to see if they can order,” says Cothran.
Accepting mobile orders can also help attract more customers. More than half of customers said they would likely increase their visits if online ordering were available.5 Some leading QSRs in the U.S. are already seeing a boost in profitability using this strategy, noting higher ticket sizes in the first and second quarters of 2018.6
In addition, restaurants should consider expanding beyond mobile and online ordering to self-serve kiosks and mobile food delivery services to help with high demand. Sixty percent of customers say convenience features like self-serve kiosks — which allow them to skip lines — would encourage them to dine at a QSR.7 They also expect to be able to easily customize their orders from kiosks.
“To stay competitive in the quick-service industry, restaurants need to offer an omnichannel approach,” says Geoff Johnson, chief innovation officer at Bypass, a Texas-based company offering restaurant ordering and payment solutions. “This will help owners see what’s working — and what needs to change — both on the consumerfacing side, and the back-end reporting and management side.”
“To stay competitive in the quick-service industry, restaurants
need to offer an omnichannel approach.”
To develop a successful omnichannel approach that can help serve customers efficiently, QSRs must have integrated solutions that tie front-end technology and back-office management together.
“As QSRs adopt newer web-based equipment, it’s important to carefully select a platform to link them together,” says Cothran. Cloudbased point-of-sale (POS) solutions can aggregate online, mobile and in-store ordering data and integrate with back-office reporting.
With the right restaurant management platform, QSR owners can access a restaurant’s complete information across multiple locations — including food cost, menu management, labor statistics and employee management. The ability to manage and optimize performance at multiple locations with high volume is critical to QSR growth and success.
Back-office reporting can also help QSRs boost operations by informing fast, data-driven decisions and actionable steps that can boost revenue. For example, data collection — like basket size in app versus in store, or percentage of orders made through an app — can help owners decide if digital programs, such as mobile apps, are effective and worth the investment. Similarly, a restaurant POS can help owners experiment with rewards programs, monitoring which types of programs help drive customer purchases.
“Restaurant owners and operators can monitor everything that’s happening in their establishment,” says Johnson. “They can then essentially turn different dials to see what exactly is helping increase revenue.” QSRs can add or drop programs based on this data.
The types of back-office systems required to manage payments and other data vary depending on a QSR’s size and complexity. Payment service providers can help assess the needs of QSRs and identify the best systems to meet customer demand efficiently and profitably.