Is Your Restaurant On Board With the Latest Industry Trends?
In mercurial industries like hospitality, preferences come and go much quicker than the seasons. As a restaurant owner, it can be difficult to get ahead of new trends or even join the bandwagon before passing. The still-prevalent threat of COVID-19 not only eats into profits but has introduced a whole world of new expectations when it comes to dining out.
Thankfully, modern technology helps restaurant owners like you handle fluctuating consumer preferences with grace and ease. Trends will always come and go: Equip your restaurant with the appropriate tools it needs to understand, not just what’s popular amongst guests but also whether you should consider joining fads while there’s still time to make money off them. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before your restaurant puts its own spin on a new market trend.
First, you need to identify what has customers so enamored before you can even approach the decision of whether to adopt it for your purposes. The best way to do this is to stay informed: Sew yourself into your local restaurant community, and you’re sure to hear about the latest consumer preferences the second they come to fruition. Subscribe to industry newsletters and podcasts or join a discussion group. With the Internet, it’s easier than ever to connect with others in the industry. You’re not the first person to own a restaurant, and the chances are that if you have a question, somebody else out there has already asked and answered the same thing.
To connect better with the restaurant community, you should stay fairly active on social media. Follow relevant hashtags, food influencers from big cities and nearby towns, and you’ll naturally fall into similar circles as your loyal customers and closest competition (remember, competition doesn’t have to mean opposition!). You’ll naturally start to get a feel for the up-and-coming trends when you get acquainted with the scene and its active participants. Information filters naturally through friends.
Of course, the best legacies don’t get started by following in other people’s footsteps. Create your own trend! If you have a good idea and the means to safely experiment, try to start a trend from your very own kitchen. You never know what will catch on and become the next big thing.
Is This Trend a Good Fit?
Much more difficult than identifying worthwhile food trends is resisting the urge to sign up for every passively popular idea that comes along. Most trends likely won’t fit your business and will be better to let untried.
Once you identify a trend and consider cashing in, establish and short- and long-term pros and cons of either decision, including potential profit and loss, how it will affect your intended audience, and whether your sales data intimates that this is a smart path to travel down. This is where a cutting-edge Point of Sales comes in handy: At eatOS we can seamlessly track and report on your revenue over time so you can see how well you do on any given day, time or season. This information should help identify trends and whether a new idea aligns with past positive experiences.
The best question to ask yourself about any new fad: Is this an industry trend or about a specific food item? Take the recent rise in the “conscientious consumer” for example; being eco-friendly will likely stick around much longer than a preference toward eating cod with a side of summer salad. Trends that affect guest behavior are more likely to stick around than changes to the menu, so they’re likely worth investing in—or at least investigating further.
Not every behavior-driven trend is going to be worth the time and money sunk into it, of course. You shouldn’t invest in trends that don’t fit your brand aesthetic or make sense with your menu, even if they would be easy to enact. Can you afford it? Trends should ideally help your profits in both the short- and long-term, never hurt them, and you should invest safely and sensibly. If you don’t have the funds to experiment right now, perhaps it’s best to shelve your new rotating weekly experimental drinks menu for some other time.
Despite the dire warnings, it is good to go after food trends that come to your attention as long as they’re relevant and lucrative for your particular restaurant. In general, you should focus the majority of your attention on industry trends that have longevity and a clear project path, but there are exceptions to every rule. If an idea is intriguing, inspires you, or is simply fun and easy to implement, you should absolutely run with it in your own work line.
Knowing when to ignore or acknowledge a trend is tricky in any business. Make smarter decisions by learning how to identify them, accept that you are under no obligation to partake in any, and then make an informed decision about whether you have the means to try out that new recipe or risky marketing campaign. Again, your Point of Sale system comes into play: With eatOS we allow for you to quickly and easily create guest profiles so you can keep track of your most loyal customers’ favorite dishes, the nights they visit most often and more so you have a better idea if a potential new trend will resonate with those you rely on the most.
You can’t handle everything on your own, although it might be tempting to try. Every time you see a new quick-service marketing ploy has gone viral or that customers are really getting into ceviche, ask yourself whether the trend is here for a good time or a long time. Is it behavior-driven or a flashy new food item that customers can buy anywhere, not something unique to you? You’ll want to focus your efforts on ways you can make your restaurant stand out from the rest.
You can’t jump on every trend that comes your way, and trying to do so will only hurt your brand in the long run. Developing a clearer understanding of what defines a trend and assessing each one as an individual business choice will allow you to ultimately connect better to your customers and create a stronger restaurant overall.
Flexibility is key, but it’s not all that it takes. Let advanced restaurant technology show you what makes Self-Ordering and advanced analytic reporting so good for business. Book a demo with eatOS today and let us help you into the future of foodservice—whatever that future may bring.