Interested in owning a restaurant of the future? Find out what unique opportunities are bringing the heat in the food industry, and what you need to know to own one.

BOUNCING BACK FROM COVID

The global COVID-19 pandemic has been a whirlwind for the food industry and restaurant operators everywhere. Navigating lockdowns, dine-in capacity limitations, and social distancing has led restauranteurs to get creative in finding new ways to serve guests and maintain success.

While the pandemic presented exceptional challenges for the restaurant industry, fast casual concepts fared slightly better than full-service or fine dining establishments. Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is the touchstone for franchises to understand how their investments are growing. Despite adversity, the fast casual restaurant industry is on track to grow by more than 10% CAGR over the next five years.

Bridging the gap between full service and fast food, the fast casual restaurant industry is filled with an endless amount of flavorful potential. Diners can take their pick of virtually any type of cuisine under the sun, and the top fast casual restaurants appeal to the growing consumer demand for meals that are convenient, inexpensive, and healthier than traditional fast-food fare.

With widespread vaccinations and fewer restrictions in place, we seem to be transitioning towards a new normal. So that begs the questions: what’s next for the restaurant industry? Which innovations and restaurant consumer trends will we see on the horizon? How should you approach owning a restaurant of the future?

PRIORITIZE CONVENIENCE

Judging by the proliferation of fast casual restaurants over the past few decades and the monumental growth of the food delivery industry during the pandemic, it’s clear that customers crave convenience and they will continue to expect it for years to come.

Tied to this desire for convenience is an expectation for personalization. Diners will expect the restaurant industry to be as customized and relevant as other industries. If consumers receive highly personalized emails featuring relevant products from their favorite retailers, they will expect an analogous experience from restaurants: from marketing messages to meals. Personalized convenience is a restaurant consumer trend the hospitality industry that is here to stay.

GET DIGITAL

Third-party food delivery services became a lifeline for both restaurants and their patrons with the onset of the pandemic, and our reliance on this convenient option is here to stay. Even as restaurants reopen their doors for in-person dining around the world, 71% of consumers questioned in a recent survey said they would continue to order delivery as much as or more than they had during the pandemic.

Having a presence on multiple online ordering apps is a necessity, as well as direct ordering capabilities off the restaurant’s website. Restaurateurs must prioritize planning for a digital menu with food quality and delivery taken into consideration. Digital is at the core of the restaurant of the future. From ordering to payment to other forms of interaction, digital channels are here to stay. To engage guests, restaurants will increasingly create digital experiences that are easy and fun to use and encourage customer loyalty. Anyone who owns a smartphone can navigate an app, and restaurants that offer more digital options are reaping the benefits.

PRIORITIZE INNOVATION

One of the key factors driving restaurant industry growth is the constant demand for innovation and menu customization. Consumers never grow weary of trying new flavor combinations and specialty items. Changing lifestyles and rising demands for on-the-go food ensure that fast casuals will always have opportunities to grow and meet new trends and changing preferences.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, millennials are major spenders in the fast casual restaurant industry, dining out more than any other living generation. As they are poised to surpass baby boomers in spending power, it’s beneficial for restauranteurs to understand how and where they spend their money. When millennials go out to eat, they place a high premium on convenience. Restaurants that prioritize technological advances, like POS systems that integrate online ordering into the restaurant’s workflow, enable the speed and convenience that millennials crave.

Millennials, too, are interested in the broader dining experience. Making your food “Instagrammable” is not a new concept, but it may come as a surprise to see that video is quickly becoming the medium of choice over photography. Social media postings including Facebook and Instagram live feeds and stories and Tik Tok videos are proving consumers are interested in food content that moves and makes sound. For restauranteurs, this means creating food that intrigues other senses beyond taste.

Utilizing social media and other interactive digital platforms promotes customer engagement that translates into new conversions and loyalty retention. For some restaurants, this may mean enticing customers with proprietary apps, loyalty points, and limited time offers to attract business.

STREAMLINING OPTIONS

With escalating steak and poultry prices, the food industry will look toward simplifying menus in the next few years. Chefs will take a creative approach toward minimizing waste while amplifying flavor from a carefully curated selection of ingredients. Streamlining the menu to focus on delicious food without overwhelming the customer with choices will help businesses effectively manage their costs.

Your Pie has always been ahead of the curve in this regard, creating hand-tossed pizza dough from scratch, topped with the freshest customizable ingredients, then baked to perfection on the spot. A smaller, customizable menu can offer customers more freedom than a lengthy menu with too many options. Not only does this benefit your guests, but it works for your bottom line, as well.

Most restaurants with traditional menus operate under the rough estimation that 80 percent of your profits come from about 20 percent of your menu items. Every conventional menu has its most popular items and its items that don’t receive as much interest, but you still must purchase all the ingredients. A slimmer menu with focused options less inventory to manage. Menu customization allows you to maximize fresh, vibrant ingredients by using them in various combinations.

SERVE UP SOME JOY

Studies show that repeat customers can account for as much as 80% of all restaurant sales. Diners become “regulars” when they overall experience when they visit your restaurant. Direct online ordering and reservation platforms allow you to collect and store data about your guests. When you have information about your guests, such as their dining history and preferences, you can both reach out to them and anticipate their needs. After a couple years with limited options and access, your guests will greatly appreciate your attention and care to make them feel like VIPs.

TAKE ON THE FUTURE WITH YOUR PIE

Your Pie takes a unique approach to being a restaurant of the future by combining authentic, old-school flavors and cooking methods with an innovative and customizable approach. Franchising since 2008, Your Pie continues to be a leader in the fast casual pizza industry. Even amidst a global pandemic, Your Pie was named one of QSR magazine’s “10 Best Franchise Deals of 2020,” due to our winning concept and attention to franchisees.

To learn more about stepping into the restaurant future with Your Pie, explore your franchise opportunity today.