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Back to the Future: The Things That Will Always Matter to QSRs

When It Comes to QSR, Some Priorities Will Never Change


In 1912, A.M. Burroughs published a book, A Better Day’s Profits, on best practices for retail stores1. In the book, Burroughs covers the basics of running retail operations, including decreasing customer wait times and reducing inefficiencies in order to maximize profits.

More than a century later, many of the foundational truths of the book still apply to retail and restaurant operations. When operating brick-and-mortar stores that involve customers exchanging money for goods or food, some things will never change, no matter how much technology transforms the ways that we interact with others and purchase items.

For today’s quick service restaurants, technology is not a game-changer as much as it is a new set of tools for operators. The game is the same: give customers a great experience and maximize profits.

As new technologies enable operators and crews to accomplish these goals on a larger scale, many aspects of running successful QSRs will stay the same.

Here are some of the things that will always matter to QSRs.

Serving Fresh Food

The bedrock of a great QSR experience is fresh, quality food. Whether the guest placed the order at the front counter, at a kiosk in the restaurant, in the drive thru, in a mobile app on a lunch break, or online for home delivery, the final product needs to be consistent and fresh.

Serving fresh food begins with proper inventory management practices. Ordering the right amount of inventory ultimately depends on accurate forecasting, as the right system should calculate accurate orders based on recipes, projected sales, limited time offers, and special events. Ordering the right amount of inventory also depends on an accurate current inventory, which is a constantly moving target that must account for sales, waste, and transfers.

Ultimately, fresh, quality food depends on the crew and the tools they have to run effective kitchens. Kitchen crews need tools, such as kitchen management systems, that help them predict needs based on historical usage and data directly from the point of sale.

The right solution will also provide visibility to the whole organization. Otherwise, how can operators know if all their locations are really serving fresh food and preparing it properly? They need a centralized command center where the team gains an encompassing view of how the business is performing.

Building Customer Loyalty

With value wars raging and razor thin margins, QSRs must focus on the factors that build customer loyalty in order to create loyal, lifelong fans.

When it comes to customer preferences and current trends, it’s easy to focus on mobile, kiosks, and loyalty programs, but sometimes people look past the critical question for building loyalty: what does your customer want?

The answer to this question is often in your data, and capturing, analyzing, and disseminating these insights is key to figuring out what consumers want. And if QSRs can figure that out and deliver it consistently, they will improve customer loyalty.

For example, if a QSR is trying to hit a speed of service goal but ends up negatively affecting an LTO sandwich, the data can help them determine if customers are pleased with the food and speed of service. That way, they can find the sweet spot between LTO promoting, speed of service, and order accuracy in a way that maximizes customer satisfaction.

Once they gain this insight, they can communicate that to the whole team so everyone is working with the best information. Above restaurant technology can help QSRs achieve this, and getting the best information to the team is far more effective than anything else they can do to build customer loyalty.

Making Data-Driven Decisions

When we talk about transformation through data, it all starts at the transaction level in the restaurant. And then from there, franchisees can ask bigger questions. Are my guests getting the best possible food? Is it delivered quickly?

All the other data depends on understanding the transaction level data. Otherwise, it’s like a car without tires. You might have a shiny, new engine, but you’re not going anywhere. As a result, it’s critical for operators to partner with someone that can pull it all together for them—starting at the most fundamental data points and then moving up to others.

It’s also important for QSRs to use solutions that help them prioritize and view the data. That’s why in the SICOM Portal, they see many visual components that help them identify what needs attention and what doesn’t. It’s about more than having access to hundreds of reports. It’s about seeing exactly what needs attention right now.

Cutting Food and Labor Costs

As the two biggest expenses, food and labor will always be at the top of mind for QSR operators. Cutting food costs begins, as with serving fresh food, with proper inventory management. Balanced orders to food vendors helps reduce food waste and overstocked shelves, but the right inventory management system will also keep a spotlight on daily inventory practices to prevent employee theft.

For labor costs, it all comes down to employee scheduling. The right schedule-making tool for operators must do two things.

First, it needs to account for all the variables that go into making weekly schedules for QSR staff, including employee availability, meal breaks, sales trends, special events, and labor laws.

Creating these schedules can be time consuming for managers, so the system must also be automated. This allows managers to replicate schedules quickly that work based on historical schedules.

And no matter how good the schedule, changes will be needed—employees call in sick; an unannounced nearby event drives up traffic and sales. So operators must have a way to monitor labor and make adjustments throughout the day.

Managing Multiple Locations Effectively

Many of the challenges of managing multiple restaurants are the same as those faced by the first QSR franchises. As franchise owners manage more restaurant locations, it becomes impossible to visit all locations often enough to manage them effectively.

Part of this is because as franchisees add more restaurants, the new markets they’re targeting aren’t always down the road. They could be two states away or clear across the county due to saturated core markets. As a result, the restaurants could be spread out across several states, so franchisees need a tool that gives them visibility into their operations.

Not only that, managers need to be trained to use the above restaurant tools so they can see critical operational data. This is about much more than sales, labor, and inventory.

For example, above restaurant technology gives operators insight into how well restaurants are executing their marketing strategies and if their teams are well trained to handle LTOs in the drive thru.

Experience Matters

Give your guests the best experience with a complete technology ecosystem. 

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Miguel Solares
April 2, 2018

As SVP of SICOM, Miguel delivers a wealth of insights into the QSR space that are informed by more than 20 years of experience. Pairing his deep expertise with a bright vision for the future of QSR, Miguel is a luminary in harnessing technology to unleash digital transformation.

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