Mobile technology development and integration is a top priority for restaurant franchise owners and franchisors, according to a survey conducted by TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, at the 2017 Restaurant Finance and Development Conference in Las Vegas.
According to the survey, more than half (59 percent) plan to integrate smartphone/tablet apps and/or mobile ordering, or develop a mobile app this year, while just under half (45 percent) plan to integrate a mobile employee scheduling/time tracking app.
TD’s survey polled franchise owners and operators of quick-service and fast-casual restaurant brands. Fifty-four percent of respondents own or operate stores that are part of a major national brand, and 44 percent stated they own 25 or more restaurant locations. When asked how mobile ordering has specifically influenced their restaurants, respondents cited that it could:
“In addition to the back-end benefits, mobile apps provide an opportunity for restaurants to communicate with customers in new ways by offering customized service and incentives that provide a more seamless experience and help encourage needed repeat business,” said Mark Wasilefsky, Head of Restaurant Franchise Financing Group at TD Bank. “We live in a mobile society in which consumers expect that ordering food ― like any product ― should be quick and easy. Smart franchise owners will take advantage of the latest technology to reach customers through their devices.”
Are you and your restaurant planning to upgrade digitally? The writing is on the wall: digital is the future.
Catering to a new audience
As the industry and customer base evolve, franchises are channeling resources into retaining existing customers while also building a new, younger fan base. Beyond mobile enhancements, survey respondents reported that their top investment areas include: adding locations (70 percent); developing social media strategies to target Generation Z, ages 0-18, (56 percent); and creating or enhancing customer loyalty programs (55 percent). Additionally, restaurant industry professionals noted that menu enhancements/changes (54 percent) and meal delivery services (47 percent) will become key business strategies.
Topics, all of which we have covered. Click on the links to read our take on creating a customer loyalty app and how delivery is NOT hurting, but helping your business.
For most franchise owners, Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers with disposable income are becoming less vital to business decisions, as Millennials (ages 20-36, also known as Generation Y) are seen as the future of the industry. Indeed, 69 percent of franchise owners believe Millennials are most responsible for fueling the innovation that affects business plans.
“Millennials make up more than one-quarter of the U.S. population, and this generation is known to seek out new experiences while expecting high-tech interactions and convenience with any purchase,” said Wasilefsky. “Restaurants that are able to cater to the preferences of Millennials will successfully capture a key customer segment and gain an edge on the competition.”
For our consistent readers, all of these ideas and trends you have heard before. We produced an article back in August of 2017 about focusing attention on the Millennial generation, “Speed & Efficiency: The Way to Millennial’s Stomachs.” Let’s face it, Millennials are the spending powerhouse. Now is the time to produce a strategy to bring in this specific audience. The longer you wait, the more you are hurting yourself.