Chuck Green

Fine Print

To encourage mindful eating habits among consumers, a few small chains adopted a new way to display nutrition information on receipts.

Santa Barbara, California–based SmartReceipt allows brands to give customers relevant and personalized messaging about nutrition.

“Because SmartReceipt messaging is targeted based on factors like what items were purchased, time of day, and amount spent, we’re able to maximize the relevancy and impact,” says Jon Cassell, vice president of business development.

In Case of Emergency

Disaster can strike at any moment. That includes medical emergencies within a restaurant, something more quick-service operators are preparing their employees to deal with so customers can be protected when unexpected medical issues arise.

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina is one brand that has committed to preparing its store managers to handle medical emergencies among both customers and employees. 

Hot On Their Heels

Competition is fierce in the restaurant industry, and quick serves are facing yet another threat in the fight for share of stomach. A recent study from the NPD Group, a global information company, revealed that when consumers opt for a food-truck visit, it often replaces a visit that otherwise would have gone to a quick-service restaurant. These findings reflect a direct competition in consumers’ minds between food trucks and limited-service restaurants. 

Something’s Cooking at Arby’s

Too many cooks in the kitchen? Not at Arby’s, where a new product-development program means the more ideas, the tastier.

The product-idea program, dubbed “Hey Chef Neville!,” was developed as a way for restaurant teams and corporate employees to submit new menu ideas to Arby’s culinary team, helmed by corporate executive chef Neville Craw.

Meant to foster a creative and collaborative environment, the initiative encourages employees to play an active role in the company, says Len Van Popering, senior vice president of product development and innovation at Arby’s.

A Twist on Mobile

As mobile campaigns go, Auntie Anne’s latest really hit the sweet spot. To promote its new Honey Whole Grain Pretzel, the snack chain created a contest that helped the brand draw more than 200,000 registrants—far exceeding its 100,000 goal.

Auntie Anne’s engaged customers through a virtual pretzel-twisting game and in-store taste tests on Sampling Saturdays, says Matt Simon, marketing director for the brand. The campaign also used mobile-optimized QR-code scanning to drive brand education.

Quality Over Cost

It’s safe to say many Taquerias Arandas customers have no beef with the Mexican chain’s decision to stick with higher-quality, more expensive beef, even while many brands look to alternative proteins and LTOs as shelter from soaring beef prices.

Judy Camarena, president of Arandas Franchises, says the company’s focus has always been on providing premium ingredients at an affordable price. “Some restaurants are opting for cheaper meat to cut costs, but we feel our consistent commitment to quality is part of what sets us apart,” she says.

Excel in Experience

The quick-service industry is feeding consumers an experience worth an encore—in some cases, at least.

According to a recent study by customer experience firm Temkin Group, the industry ranked second among 19 for highest customer-experience ratings. In addition, the industry’s average rating jumped 2 percentage points this year over last to more than 76 percent.

Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group, says the high scores are fueled largely by consumers’ expectations: quality food with a minimal wait and an accurate order the first time around.

Waging War

Protests bring attention to quick-service wages.

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Hundreds of fast-food workers in New York City early this month protested low wages and the inability to unionize. It was just one of myriad demonstrations that have unfolded across the country in recent months as workers rally against what they perceive to be unsatisfactory workplace conditions.

While experts don’t believe quick-service work stoppages will find much, if any, large-scale traction, they warn that major operators like McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Taco Bell should still take wage disputes seriously.