Fast food chains are a common reference for F&B Consultants when they are giving success tips to start-ups or businesses. The food chains can teach your brand a few things about how to be successful in an economy that has cut-throat competition among businesses in the same industry.
But why is the food chain industry booming?
Food is a basic need and no matter what happens in the market, they’ll always be some money for well-prepared and served food.
Today’s world isn’t just about efficiency, but also taste, especially when it comes to food. If food is served fast and is well-presented, then most customers tend to be more lenient when it comes other specifics such as taste. With big names in the industry being recognised every year for making billions of dollars, your brand could take inspiration from these success stories.
Start-ups learn from industry gurus and they are willing to pay thousands of dollars to get tips from their successful colleagues in the same industry. However, if you want to achieve your business goals, you shouldn’t be hesitant to search for tips from the least expected sources to find the right solution for your business dilemmas. The food chain industry is one such place. They can provide you with important lessons for your business career and all you need is to pay attention.
F&B Consultants on How to Adapt to a Fast-Moving Industry
To succeed in the fast-moving industry, the mastery of a different set of parameters is required unlike those in the fine-dining sector. Clients in this industry are looking for predictability, affordability, convenience and speed rather than a memorable eating experience.
This is not only applicable to the fast food industry but in all other industries too. In the rapidly evolving world of today, businesses need to have systems that are adaptive to changes.
Growth and change are only natural and inevitable. And the fast food chains industry has weathered many such storms, and it’s the best industry to turn to for business tips. Here are some lessons that other businesses can learn from the fast food chain industry:
1. Alignment with Consumer Demands
From a client’s perspective in the food industry, your business and that of your competitors are all the same. You all offer the same service or product and are located in the same region. The new customers can’t tell how one business is different from the other until they’ve sampled your food.
You need to come up with a new and innovative idea that makes your business stand out from the crowd. Your new ideas should be in line with what will make the customers satisfied. This will make any new customer in town to simply walk straight into your premises.
There are two main factors why new customers choose one restaurant over the other: by choosing the cheapest option or by recognising a brand. Being easily recognised means the restaurant’s reputation is well-known, whether good or bad. And if you have a trusted brand, the customers will not even bother asking about prices.
McDonald’s, for example, has established a huge brand name and has the market safely under its arm. Tourists in the UAE will find McDonald’s as the easier choice over any other fast food restaurants in the country. That’s why a new food-chain will find it hard to have the same impact even if they try to emulate McDonald’s business strategy.
This doesn’t mean the fast food chain industry is so saturated that you can’t penetrate. It only means is that you must have innovative concepts and must give something unique that could attract (and eventually retain) customers.
If you are operating in a saturated market, offer excellent customer service that challenges the established norm in the industry or offer to be the cheapest (yet quality) option. You can think of some other ways to promote your brand. With the best strategy, your restaurant will slowly, but surely, make its way to the top.
2. Build Systems
To maximise profit and efficiency, giant fast food chains use systems. Customers love predictability; they want to get exactly the same quality of service or product every time they purchase it. Even if the service or product is not of the highest quality, if consistency is maintained, they will still buy it because they know what they expect and have accepted it the way it is.
Try to lay down systems in your business so your customers can get consistent brand experience, service, or product quality. Most F&B Consultants agree that systems enable businesses to produce predictable results and this will help them in scaling.
3. Location, Location, Location
Fast food restaurant operations are about convenience. Most of these restaurants are located in high-traffic areas. They are conveniently placed where people can just easily dine-in or drop by for a takeaway. No one would travel outside the city for burgers or fries the same way they would do to have the experience of a fine-dining restaurant.
When your business is located on a busy commercial strip or in a shopping mall, you’ll gain impulse purchases and business from people who had no pre-planned idea of visiting your restaurant. Prices don’t matter much since what they care most about is availability – and that’s where you are located.
A good family cafe with fair prices rarely have branches all around the city, but big fast food chains can be found in easy-to-access locations in almost all cities and small towns. This makes them more appealing to customers.
To be successful in a business, make yourself available for your customers – they should be able to enter your premises, website, store and make an order physically or from PCs, tablets, and smartphones, whatever fits them better.
4. Taste and Appetites
Being aware of the fact that most fast foods are not healthy, many fast food chains are now adopting a new approach by offering healthier menu items. This allows them to appeal to more diverse customers, especially those who are more health-conscious.
In nearly all surveys conducted on fast food chains, one fact stands out: no matter your preference, fried chicken or burgers, it isn’t something you eat because you want to stay healthy.
So, why eat it then? Simple, you eat fast food because it is that – fast. Not only you do get your order quickly, you were also served foods that appeal to your palate. The same rule applies to other businesses as well. Many customers don’t care about the details of the ingredients of your product provided they get the results they want. The bottom line? Ensure you create your products with your customers’ enjoyment in mind.
Modern life is quick and things keep getting faster every day. It also applies to the F&B sector. You want to spend more time enjoying your meal than waiting. That’s something fast food restaurants are good at. They give you the right food, at the right time, and fast. No wonder more and more customers prefer them for a quick fix than any other food chains.
To boost the image of your business, choose to serve your customers food that can be prepared fast while maintaining the quality. Also, consider the option of online ordering and partner with food delivery companies. This gives you more edge above your competitors since you’re ready to offer the same quality products but at the comforts of their homes. That’s convenience at the highest level!
Unlike other establishments in the F&B sector, fast food chains offer a unique selling point that distinguishes them from their competitors. They focus on specific attributes of the business that other hotels and restaurants do not. For example, many restaurants and hotels invest thousands or even hundred thousands of dirhams in creating a splendid ambience for their clients. Fast food chains, on the other hand, will focus on serving food faster in a not-so-fancy establishment bust still get many customers.
Clients dining in restaurants and hotels also have to fork out a lot of cash and get a variety of options including 3-course meals among other offerings. However, fast food chains offer the exact opposite. When you last walked into a fast food restaurant, did you look at their menus? If you took a keen look, you may have seen that these fast food chains offer economy options and discounts. They realised that customers love these so dearly and they took advantage of this. Offering cheaper options to customers can be a way to be distinct in an industry where many F&B outlets have pricier alternatives.
This is a great lesson for any business in the sector. Having that unique selling point makes your brand more appealing and worthy a chance. Find something that sets you apart from your competitors and your restaurant will start being profitable.
7. Avoiding Menu Clutter
When you overwhelm your customers with too many options, they’ll suffer from the paradox of choice – they’ll find it difficult to make a decision.
As F&B Consultants say, by simplifying your menu, your customers will not be confused with the options, and if designed properly, you can even use your menu as your marketing tool. Go back to your product portfolio and ask yourself if it reflects what you really are or if it just drives customers away.
If you want to add new items, why not try it as your “speciality for the week” or your secret menu. They don’t need to be printed out – sometimes, customers listen to staff’s suggestions on “what’s the best” and “what’s new”.
8. Effective Marketing Campaigns
No business can survive without a robust marketing strategy. Fast food chains have discovered this secret. No wonder, they spend a fortune on marketing campaigns, and this seems to be paying off. Their marketing campaigns target people from all walks of life, adults, teens, children, professionals, name it.
Your business should emulate this if you want it to succeed. Carry out thorough market research to determine the demographics of your customers then create a marketing campaign that takes care of their interests.
Your superb marketing strategy should be backed by quality to ensure the clients you’ve lured won’t get disappointed. Remember that your products and services are still your best marketing tools.
9. Minimising Research and Development (R&D) Spend
Companies looking to minimize R&D costs rely heavily on secret menus. Secret menus are popular because they allow companies to try out new ideas on a small scale before going full blast and allocating finances to produce and advertise them.
If the idea fails at the trial stage, the company would not spend too much as it would have if no proper research was done.
Fast food chains make good use of these secret menus by varying the methods of food preparation and trying out different recipes. Depending on customer feedback, they can decide then to continue producing and marketing the item.
The Starbucks Medicine Ball perfectly exemplifies the use of this notion with their tea concoction, dubbed as a remedy for the common cold. This product has successfully moved from the secret menu and is now included in the official printed menu. Starbucks managed to pull this off with very minimal R&D spend.
As a forward-thinking entrepreneur, you should leverage customer co-creation to come up with new products. Incorporating customers in the creative and decision process, and R&D is the best way to lower costs.
If you are working on a budget, you can take advantage of social media platforms to outsource ideas and create vibrant customer communities. A Bulbshare commissioned research revealed that 77% of people prefer brands that collaborate with customers.
10. Efficiency of Operations
Most fast food restaurants make profits by offering various options. This, coupled with their efficiency covers up for their thin profit margins. They hire employees at minimum wages, minimise food wastage, and order in bulk to benefit from economies of scale. They understand that every dirham spent unnecessarily hurts the profits.
Fast food chains live up to their name by being fast and efficient. Many people grab fast food on their way home or on their way to work. Some do not even want to get out of their cars and use drive-through windows when placing orders and picking their packages. Fast food chains don’t disappoint such customers and they ensure they have traffic lanes and multiple service windows so customers won’t take long to be served and create a snarl-up.
This kind of service can only be achieved by setting up an efficient system, using standardised procedures, and choosing the best cooking methods to ensure foods are prepared faster and in enough quantity to serve all customers. These are just a few of the things that make fast food restaurants successful.
Your business can borrow a leaf from fast food restaurants and learn that your business can achieve high levels of sales when all the systems running the business are efficient. With a high volume of sales, you’ll be able to make substantial profits even at thin profit margins. Cut costs by hiring the right staff, avoid wastage, and get your supplies in bulk to take advantage of economies of scale.
The Bottom Line
As an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of risk-taking. If done well, a strategy like disruptive innovation can really accelerate your business growth. However, innovation isn’t always a straightforward process. It is always accompanied by some failures along the way before hitting on a winning idea. You’ll never succeed if you are scared of trying.
The fast food chains are not immune to failures. Many big names in the hospitality industry like McDonald’s had their fair share of these. Decor choices, promotions, and food concepts can all fail. It’s just like trying a new recipe at home and getting the opposite of what you expected. However, these hiccups never stopped them from trying new items and coming up with some new innovative ideas that gave them a big success story.
If you know you can’t do things on your own, you can consider hiring F&B Consultants to help you craft a working business plan. We, at Glee, have been in the industry for more than a decade and have worked with various restaurant brands. If you would love to know more about how to run a profitable restaurant chain, then you can contact us today.