HOSPITALITY & THE RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE: Entertainment, environment and socializing
Hospitality used to be strictly the focus of hotels and fine-dining restaurants, but consumers are looking for an experience both in-house and off-premises that provides, not only restaurant quality food, but also hotel quality hospitality. The restaurant of the future will need to provide an experience that is different. It does not have to be costly but must be something that customers talk about. Taking an unorthodox approach and being extremely adaptable to the changing needs of the customer will have a major impact on the success of restaurants.
CUSTOMER COLLABORATION: Staying connected to the customer in real time
When Kinetic12 began looking at the Restaurant of the Future we talked about consumer behaviors being the first element that would dictate changes in restaurants. Operators would follow their lead and then suppliers and other stategic partners would support the operators. In the restaurant of the future we can take this one step further. The consumer must now be part of the restaurant’s insight team.
Differentiation will drive new and repeat business and the consumer will be a big part of defining what makes a restaurant different. There are more moving parts than ever before including food, service, safety, sanitation, experience, and flexibility. Customers want to be part of the process to help define the direction of their favorite restaurants. Consumers have become more engaged in cooking at home and being innovative in what they are now eating. Getting food at or from a restaurant has become an important part of the life of a consumer. It is time to embrace consumers and truly make them part of the team.
SIMPLIFICATION: Why easy is best
COVID has caused us to make many difficult decisions, and not just about whether we would go into a restaurant or not. Many operators have done a commendable job simplifying the ordering and payment process, simplifying the menu and simplifying their labor pool. The restaurant of the future will require a continued focus on simplification and a resistance to adding back. Bigger is not always better. Often bigger is simply more complex and unprofitable.
Complexity also breeds inconsistency. It is crucial for the consumer to get a consistent and seamless experience and complexity runs counter to that goal. Expansive menus, a long list of daily specials and dozens of unique ingredients is now the old-school approach. One of the most important lessons from COVID is that simplicity equals profitability.
CONSISTENCY: Setting and meeting expectations
Every consumer has very different expectations of the restaurants they frequent. Every day, restaurant operators have the opportunity to set and influence the parameters of those expectations. They do that in three ways: the food, the service and the experience.
The Food—What is a restaurant known for? Is it the food? Is it the chicken parmesan, the fresh pasta, the delicious crusty bread, the fresh pesto that is served with, or is it the whole package? If an operator hits on all four, they have met the expectations of the consumer, but if they miss on even one of the four, that is what’s remembered. The restaurant of future will dictate that if you set high expectations, that you meet those expectations and you do so every time.
The Service—Whether for dine-in or takeout, service expectations are set almost before the consumer arrives. Consumers look at restaurant service in two ways—as the place to get something quick or a place where the staff are incredibly friendly and want to make them happy. Service has always been a differentiator in the restaurant business and that will not change. Being consistent with that service is the hard part.
The Experience—A consistent experience is the third element of our consistency model. A “restaurant quality” experience is now expected for both in-house and off-premise. Surely there are times for all of us where convenience becomes the priority, but being able to differentiate the experience, even at a convenience driven visit, can truly “make a difference.” Just like the food and the service, consistently delivering a great experience is not easy. In the restaurant of the future consistency is essential for long term success because in the consumer’s mind consistency means “you will meet my expectations.”
These 10 areas of differentiation in the Restaurant of the Future, we believe, will be core to how restaurants win after COVID. We look forward to seeing how these differentiators take shape as our industry continues to recover, evolve and thrive.
Look for the next article from Kinetic12: Restaurant of the Future 7.0
Bruce Reinstein and Tim Hand are partners with Kinetic12 Consulting, a Chicago-based foodservice and general management consulting firm. The firm works with leading foodservice suppliers, operators and organizations on customized strategic initiatives as well as guiding multiple collaborative forums and best practice projects. Their previous leadership roles in restaurant chain operations and at foodservice manufacturers provide a balanced industry perspective.