There has been a lot said about what the top restaurant trends of 2016 will be. For fast casual restaurants, the biggest giveaway is their blending of the quick convenience of fast food paired with the higher quality of menu offerings from full service restaurants. Now as more fast casuals are being introduced to the industry, it’s time to figure out what’s working best and how these restaurants are changing the game.
Trend #1: Food
When asked about food trends this year, a restaurant analyst for The NPD Group says, “The trend is toward food and beverages that are considered wholesome and real.” That same sentiment was echoed by 1,600 chefs surveyed by the National Restaurant Association. When asked what were the most popular food trends of late, respondents threw most of their support towards local, fresh food sourcing.
As the trend towards cleaner eating increases industry-wide this year, we’ll see chains, franchises, and restaurants of all shapes and sizes try to adapt (if they haven’t already) with fresh food offerings, locally sourced produce, and a greater transparency into their menu’s ingredients.
Trend #2: Service
The fast casual restaurant industry already offers convenient access to high quality food options. For those restaurants wanting to take that convenience to the next level, offering delivery services to their customers will be the next step.
Whether restaurants currently offer delivery services or not, there are now faster, more technology-driven opportunities available. Companies dedicated to delivery services (think of Door Dash, GrubHub, and UberEats) give restaurants the ability to focus on the quality of their food preparation while those third-party providers manage the speedy (home) delivery part of the experience.
Trend #3: Compensation
Last year the big talk was around restaurants implementing a no-tipping policy, like Union Square Hospitality Group’s 13 restaurants.For restaurants that don’t necessarily depend on tipping as a form of compensation, many can still expect to see a change in employee compensation this year.
Cities like Seattle and San Francisco have already passed minimum wage increases and have witnessed the potentially negative effect of what higher employee wages will do to some businesses. For fast casual chain restaurants looking at this sort of change in pay structure this year, a tighter control on food costs and a revision of menu prices may be in order if they want to weather this storm.
Trend #4: Internal Processes
Technology isn’t just affecting customer-facing processes anymore. With a growing millennial workforce and cloud computing technologies proving to be a beneficial business tool, restaurants can plan on using new tech to upgrade BOH processes.
Many restaurants have already begun to use cloud-based technologies to streamline processes and increase efficiency on the backend. Now it’s time for restaurants to improve and bring consistency to the hiring and training processes by utilizing videos, webinars, and training software. “These technologies allow for improved employee interaction, creating a better work environment, thus leading to improved productivity, efficiency and brand trust,” said Jeff Pinc, the Director of Food Services for Panasonic System Communications Co.
As the fast casual dining industry continues to pick up speed and grow in popularity, now is the time for franchises to consider what’s needed for further growth. All of the trends mentioned above have the potential to bring something good to the restaurant that adopts them, it’s just a matter of putting in the proper research and preparation beforehand to make sure they’re the right fit.
If you want help finding the right tools to bring your company together, check this out!
Take a look at how our client Costa Vida is owning the Fast Casual market and opening their 75th store this month!