With spring this year comes a renewed sense of hope that is a little greater than usual: the weather is warming, plants are blooming, and vaccinations are rolling out, signaling the beginning of the end of the pandemic that rocked the globe.
While the pandemic itself is likely to stretch on for a few more months at the least, consumers, eager to take advantage of the optimism afforded by the rise in vaccinations and decline in cases, have been frequenting businesses more and more.
In Massachusetts alone, restaurants have experienced a huge lift in indoor dining – up about 37% from the start of February through the end of March, according to Paytronix data. But that uptick is not coming at the expense of online sales, and it’s earlier than CEO Andrew Robbins expected. […]
Paytronix recently launched a recurring webinar series featuring some of the top trailblazers in the restaurant and convenience industries. PX Think Beyond is designed to highlight how top executives’ forward thinking transformed their respective brands and enabled them to thrive. The series is hosted by Arjun Sen, CEO of ZenMango and a former Fortune 500 executive.
Watch the first episode for an intimate conversation between Blaine Hurst, former president and CEO of Panera Bread, and Andrew Robbins, CEO of Paytronix Systems, on the future of restaurants.
In this talk, Hurst shares his vision for the future of restaurants, noting that experience and hospitality still comes first. For his part, Robbins looks to the future of omnichannel restaurant experiences, when guests will have the power to choose their own paths to engaging with brands — whether that be on- or off-premises dining — and expresses how important it is for brands to take those interactions to a new, personalized level.
Blaine opens the conversation with the idea that the best way to lead a brand is to create a culture of dissatisfaction where team members believe that the status quo is simply not good enough. Instead, it’s important to believe that everything can be made better.
Andrew looks at the same thing from a slightly different but overlapping point of view and suggests that brands need to create a culture of paranoia around the guest experience. Think, Andrew suggests, about how to increase the lifetime value of each guest and, by extension, rapidly increase the brand’s value.
Blaine and Andrew’s top strategies for getting to know guests include:
Understanding their past behavior and where they are going to be in the future;
Being inquisitive, always asking questions, and never making assumptions;
Talking to as many people as possible and learning from every conversation;
Constantly questioning what is possible.
Each failure is an opportunity. Blaine talks about smart failure and dumb failure and the need to pursue everything, even if it does not turn out to be right. After all, you cannot bat at 100%. If an exploration is approaching a dead end, stop. Take the learning and move on.
Personalization is key. Understand why people act the way they do. Why do some guests prefer certain menu items? Why do some order online, while others continue to visit the store? Understand individual preferences for each member of a family – each is different. Personalization is so much more than using an algorithm to put guests in a group. Segments are important, but they should lead to better consumer experiences.
Predict the future. Try to imagine where guest experience is going next. How are lifestyles and work lives changing, and how should your brand operations evolve to meet these changes? How will tomorrow’s technology alter the dine-in landscape, or foster new virtual opportunities for engagement?
Catch up on Episode 1 of PX Think Beyond for the full conversation with Blaine Hurst and Andrew Robbins as they share their secrets on how to think beyond and take a brand to the next level. Learn how to turn insights into action in a two- to three-year time frame to deliver big wins for your brand.
Sign up for a seat at the table as Paytronix continues Think Beyond to hear from more visionary leaders from top restaurant and convenience store brands about how to drive the industry forward in a challenging market. New episodes in the series will be available throughout 2021.
The National Restaurant Association announced this month its forecasted trends for the industry in 2021. The trends largely represent a continued reliance on off-premises services and indicate that the association anticipates the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to exert a heavy influence over the industry throughout the next year.
Restaurant brands that haven’t already found their ideal technology partner must do so now, as industry trends and shifting consumer preference both indicate that omnichannel digital experiences are the future of hospitality.
“Technology that might have been ‘nice to have’ before the pandemic suddenly became ‘need to have’ to enable touchless transactions,” the association wrote in its prediction. “Many of the innovations deployed not only helped keep restaurants afloat in 2020, they also signal the trends shaping 2021.”
Here’s the technology the NRA expects to define the restaurant industry this year:
Off-premises foodservice takes precedence
Pre-pandemic, 80% of FSRs’ traffic was on-premises, according to the association. Now, curbside pickup and delivery are the bread and butter of all service types, not just QSRs. […]
In a typical year, most full-service restaurants would find themselves completely booked up with New Year’s Eve reservations by Dec. 29. Today, most are facing capacity limits or full bans on on-premise dining as we head into one of the busiest nights of the year for the industry.
Fortunately, there is a bright spot. In lieu of reservations, guests are placing takeout orders – and further in advance than years’ past.
Leading up to the Christmas holiday, Paytronix data showed advance orders for New Year’s Eve had tripled over the same period in 2019. While it’s unlikely that overall takeout orders on Dec. 31 will triple, the data does indicate that guests were placing their orders much earlier than usual. This may be indicative of the shift from reservations to online orders.
This year’s advance orders, while more plentiful, are generally smaller in size than in years past, most likely due to fewer catering orders for large, private parties.
In 2019, relatively few orders were placed before Dec. 25, but those that were averaged high check totals. Orders placed more than 8 days in advance last year had check sizes between $500 and $3,000, while 2020 has seen smaller checks – from $40 to $400 – placed anywhere from two to eight days in advance.
This likely means that while there are few parties planned to ring in 2021, many guests still plan to keep up tradition and celebrate with a nice meal in small groups at home.
Turn customer engagement into meaningful guest experiences.