Published October 30, 2020
When COVID-19 hit, restaurants very quickly had to begin transforming their restaurant operations to meet fluctuating and varying customer preferences. According to a study by Technomic, 50 percent of consumers don’t plan on eating in a restaurant anytime soon, some want to dine out, but in a safe way, and others are ready to get back to normal. And consumers have higher expectations, too—whether that’s a safe in-restaurant experience, easier and safer pick-up options or accurate delivery times.
The question is: Does your brand’s brick-and-mortar design and operational flow support this changing dynamic?
Traditionally, quick service and fast casual restaurants have been designed with two primary order and delivery points in mind—the counter and the drive-thru. The pandemic reduced that down to mostly one: the drive thru. For some operators, removing the in-restaurant ordering experience reduced throughput and impacted the overall customer experience. Still, there are ways to adapt and use this to your advantage.
As in-store ordering has moved to mobile and online, your customers want their experience to be quick, easy and safe. Restaurants with and without a traditional drive-thru experience will need to rethink the design of their parking lots and drive-thru.
During the first half of the year, brands pieced together new operational flows and/or introduced new ordering methods just to survive. Now, digital transformation within the restaurant industry has significantly accelerated in a short period of time.
As brands step back and think more strategically about enabling a convenient and safe guest experience—inside and outside—of the restaurant, there are six underlying areas of technology that help reduce friction points and reshape the overall guest experience.
Ultimately, there are many ways to transform your restaurant to improve your guest experience. From designing areas in your kitchen dedicated to fulfilling off-premise orders to enabling your dine-in guests to order on their devices at the table, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. As you re-evaluate your restaurant design and how to adapt to industry transformation, think holistically about your approach and make decisions that are aligned with both your short- and long-term strategic objectives. That way, you can successfully adjust your operations to adapt to meet the moment, regardless of unforeseen events or industry disruption.