Using Data to Transform the Fast-Casual Customer Experience

Fast casuals need new ways to keep up with the growing demand.

Today, consumers are becoming increasingly responsive to high-quality foods and an improved dining experience. Fast-casual restaurants, or food service establishments that offer high-quality food without full table service, are meeting these demands and growing rapidly.

The fast-casual segment is realizing double-digit growth because it’s a quick and affordable option that offers higher quality menu items than provided by the segment’s fast food counterpart (The Tork Better Business Center, 2012). According to a Quick Service Restaurant Magazine article, “Assault on Casual,” by Daniel Smith, “the benefit of not having to dedicate time to waiting to be seated, placing your order with a server, or waiting for your bill… plays a role in guest satisfaction in the fast-casual industry.”

Thanks to fast-casual restaurants, high-quality food and an inviting atmosphere are no longer associated solely with pricey menus and five-course meals.

Fast-casual restaurants are unaware of their current
delivery times.

As fast-casual concepts increase in popularity, establishments face difficulty in understanding one of the most important factors of satisfied guests—food delivery performance. Today, there are a few ways to accomplish food delivery research:

  • Proprietary research through mystery shoppers
  • Manually tracking delivery times vs. ticket times
  • Surveying customers on perceptions of speed
  • Technology-based solutions that automate tracking

While all methods offer some benefit, each is flawed in some way. First, while research studies are often expensive and the observational nature of mystery shopping can lead to incomplete results. Second, manual clocking of delivery time can be tedious and time consuming and limits tracking to periods of time when an individual can measure performance. Finally, relying on consumer perception alone usually doesn’t always tell the full story.

Although most restaurants urge food runners to deliver orders within a designated amount of time, the majority of fast-casual concepts don’t have the capabilities, additional marketing and research budget to commission an ongoing study, or manpower to accurately measure ticket times and staff performance. Without this data, management lacks……

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