With new limited-service brands emerging at a rapid pace, consumers have more dining choices than ever, and their preferences are proving that established national concepts could learn a thing or two from these smaller, younger chains. According to a nationwide study on consumers’ favorite quick-service chains from Market Force Information, brands like Firehouse Subs, Qdoba, and Papa Murphy’s rank better for customer satisfaction compared to more established category players like Subway, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.
Fast food gets a bad rap. The industry is actively cutting back on calories, sodium, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and other ingredient components that are detrimental to nutrition, but consumers and watchdogs alike are still quick to point fingers when the nation’s health woes come under debate.
Chick-fil-A is introducing a new lineup of grilled chicken entrées that will give the chain a nutritious and expansive grilled menu. On April 14, the Atlanta-based restaurant chain will officially rollout three new entrées—the Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich, and Chick-fil-A Grilled Nuggets—in an ongoing effort to provide more flavorful and craveable grilled options for its nutrition-minded customers.
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I’ve been a “lifer” with this family business called Chick-fil-A. I started visiting our family restaurant, The Dwarf Grill, nine months before I was born. When we were very young, my dad [Truett Cathy] would take me, my brother, and my sister to the restaurant, where we would not only scrape the chewing gum from the bottom of seats and tables, but we would entertain guests with table-side songs. We were reluctant at first—especially since we had to wear the dwarf costumes that my grandmother made for us—but after a while, people started giving us tips.
Q: What does it take for a quick-service brand to become a great brand?
A: I get this question all the time. Many people look at superstar brands like Apple, Southwest Airlines, and Nike and mistakenly conclude those companies achieved their successes as a result of good timing, great advertising, or just plain luck. But I’ve found that these companies have employed specific, somewhat surprising, techniques that have turned them into industry icons.
Technomic has announced the winners of the 2014 Chain Restaurant Consumers' Choice Awards, which are based on consumer responses to the research and consulting firm's ongoing brand study.
It’s noon on a weekday and the town’s fast-casual hot spot is hopping, with customers lined up past the front doors. When the manager sees the massive crowd, one question comes rushing to his mind: How can we keep all of these patrons at our restaurant?
National news headlines have recently been peppered with stories of quick-serve customers behaving badly and employees keeping their cool. From last year’s video of a Chick-fil-A drive-thru employee smartly handling an irate customer to this year’s story of a Dairy Queen crewmember who stood up to a woman after she took money from a blind man, quick-serve employees have been thrust into the national spotlight by offering shining examples of good customer service.
Since the advent of the modern quick-service drive thru—some would say in the early 1970s, though the idea of a pick-up window has been around for much longer—operators have tinkered with the nuts and bolts to create a drive thru that is as fast, efficient, and pleasant as possible. Innovations throughout the years, from wireless headsets and order-confirmation boards to dual lanes and pre-sell signage, have created a better drive thru capable of handling the 60–70 percent of business that now loops the exterior of most quick-service restaurants.
Though breakfast is nothing new for Chick-fil-A—the chicken chain introduced the daypart nearly 30 years ago—major success in the breakfast daypart has largely been limited to the markets that public relations manager Mark Baldwin calls the “biscuit belt.”