At McAlister’s Deli, employees greet customers as they approach the counter to place their order and once more as they deliver meals to customers in the dining room. These same employees also walk the dining room, offering to get drink refills, removing meal debris, and assisting with additional needs as they arise. It’s a full-service restaurant approach in a quick-service operation, one that’s paying dividends for many quick serves both in terms of great customer service and boosting the bottom line.
With hundreds of great concepts and thousands of great operators, the fast-casual segment certainly holds its own in terms of both innovation and leadership. The last 10 years can arguably be called “the decade of fast casual” due to the growth and flourishing of the segment.
The May issue of QSR had a great article on the most innovative people in quick service, but this column will focus on the most influential leaders in fast casual.
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Phil Friedman, chairman and CEO of McAlister’s Deli, is a firm believer in independent research of a company’s franchisees. Getting an independent read on the health of his franchise system has led to important changes in key operational areas, such as marketing and distribution.