Restaurant News Roundup: December 2017
December was filled with plenty of newsworthy restaurant industry topics. It was hard to narrow it down to just a few but we think you’ll enjoy our choices. Below is a recap of restaurant news that hit the wire in December.
Darden’s ‘back-to-basics’ approach is beating the competition
Darden’s simplified approach that began three years ago has been key to their success in the casual dining segment. In the second quarter, Darden’s sales reached 14.6 percent, year-over-year to $1.88 billion. The sales beat Wall Street’s estimate of $1.85 billion. What is Darden focused on? “Improving the food, service and atmosphere in our restaurants,” says Gene Lee, CEO. Six out of seven Darden brands had positive comps with same-store sales growth. Lee simplified his approach into four key advantages: “One, leveraging our significant scale to create a cost advantage; two, using extensive data and insights to improve operating fundamentals and to better understand our guest and communicate with them more effectively; ensuring our brands systematically go through our rigorous strategic planning process; and four, cultivating our results-oriented people culture to enable growth.” Read the full story here.
How restaurants can use popularity of online dating, Netflix to increase sales
Restaurants are experiencing significant shift in customer engagement over the past decade as consumer priorities and choices have altered. Social media, ecommerce and the on-demand-culture are driving the shift and restaurants must adapt to these new cultural changes in order to stay successful. Online dating and movie night are two ways restaurants can interact with their customers. Bars and restaurants play a big role in dating, but instead of going on a big, romantic date, online daters prefer a more casual, inexpensive first-time meeting. For example, a restaurant can target these customers with first-date promotions that offer food with alcohol purchases. To keep up with the streaming alternatives to dinner and a movie, restaurants can offer take-out and delivery options for the Netflix group. Capturing the delivery crowd with a loyalty program is a great way to start. Read the full story here.
Casual dining finds savior in takeout
In October, the casual-dining segment reported unexpected sales growth – the segment has been struggling with declining traffic for nearly 12 years. What has been the hopeful sign for change? Convenience. Throughout weak quarter results, casual-dining chains have worked to build off-premise business to take advantage of consumer demand for convenience. Olive Garden whose takeout orders have increase 70 percent over the past four year, is working to improve processes to handle increased volume, including implement more technology support and improving to-go stations to better the experience. BJ’s Restaurants reported an increase of 17 percent in off-premise sales at the end of the quarter. The company is working to simplify takeout offerings and improve the ordering process online and through its app. Red Robin’s off-premise dining business is up 41 percent over last year. “Guest demand is shifting to off-premise, particularly via home delivery, more rapidly than any of us might have anticipated,” Red Robin CEO Denny Marie Post said during an earning call this month. Read the full story here to see how other casual-dining operators are embracing off-premise dining.
Disrupting hospitality: three technologies that will make an impact in 2018
Technology that enables companies to improve their offerings, streamline operations for employees and create more personalized guest experiences will be the focus for the upcoming year. A recent article from Cognizant discuss these technologies and how they will make a difference in the industry. Big data: Operations leveraging in intelligence big data will enable smarter decision making, targeted promotions and manage real-time inventories and pricing to be in line with market demands. IoT and Automation: IoT coupled with automation will enable a growth of smart spaces in the industry. Expect to see increase number of smart restaurants, guest rooms, lobbies and even smart parking. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Chatbots: These tools create a powerful way to manage operations. The use cases are varied between powering online and telephone interactions, taking orders or call centers. Read the full story here.
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About the Author
Chrisea Chosta is QSR’s Public Relations & Communications Manager. Chrisea graduated from Western Kentucky University and works to secure ongoing press opportunities as well as strategic development and executing trade shows and related events for QSR. In her spare time, you can find her spending time with family, her chocolate lab, and aimlessly walking down every aisle of Target.