The time has come for quick service restaurants (QSRs) to go digital. QSR technology is rapidly advancing, and fast food chains and managed service providers (MSPs) alike must constantly adapt to stand out from their competitors and increase market share. The pace of change in technologies available to the restaurant industry may make this feel like a daunting task, but there are plenty of steps that operators and MSPs can take to update their restaurants and bring them up to speed.
Here are some of our best tips for leading your quick service restaurant through the industry’s digital evolution.
How to Adapt to the Quick Service Industry’s Digital Evolution
1. Put Yourself in the Customers’ Shoes
Take some time to think from the perspective of your customers. What kinds of QSR technology are they expecting? Do they want mobile ordering options? Are touch-based kiosks still a good investment, or would customers view them as a health and safety risk in the COVID-19 era?
If you can, talk to customers directly to gather feedback. It can also be a good idea to visit other quick service restaurants to see what kinds of technology they’re implementing. You certainly don’t need to copy them, but it can be a good place for inspiration and to see if customers like the changes.
2. Prepare Your Network
No matter what changes you decide to make, you’re going to be using more bandwidth and might need to update your wireless network. Bring in an expert to evaluate your usage levels now and predict what additional needs you may have moving forward. They’ll be able to tell you how having customers use personal devices to order instead of kiosks will impact your network usage. Your field services provider can then recommend and implement the updates you’ll need for your next level.
3. Evaluate Mobile Ordering Options
Customers today want to be able to order their food on their phone. In many cases, this means delivery, so they don’t have to leave home. Still, many customers are happy to go and pick up their food once it’s ready.
There are multiple ways for customers to place orders via their phones. They can choose from third-party delivery apps, restaurant-specific apps or websites. However, research shows that customers prefer restaurant-specific apps to third-party apps, and ordering via a website drops to the bottom of the list. If your quick service restaurant isn’t partnered with a third-party app and doesn’t have a mobile app of its own, it’s time to start developing one.
4. Optimize the Drive-Thru
Drive-thrus have been an important player in the quick service industry for a while. But, due to the pandemic, they’ve become essential. It would service QSR operators and managed service providers well to invest in this system
Digital menu boards and displays are essential to your drive-thru’s efficiency and to customers’ overall experience. You can use these screens to promote your brand, communicate deals on certain items, or even raise awareness about loyalty programs. Before you invest in new digital signage though, make sure you’re getting a return on your investment. Look for high-brightness, outdoor displays with thermal management capabilities.
Also, consider investing in additional drive-thru improvements like:
- Adding additional lanes.
- Adopting a dual drive-thru model.
- Installing sneeze guards at cashier windows to protect staff and improve consumer confidence.
- Implementing faster payment collection options, such as mobile payments.
5. Consider the Staff
When you’re adapting to the quick service industry’s digital evolution and making major changes to the restaurant’s workflows, make sure you think about these updates from the staff’s perspective. The in-restaurant team will likely be the ones addressing customer complaints or questions and supporting the roll out of this new system. Make sure your new system is well-tested before you roll it out, so you can make their lives a little easier. Then, implement thorough training options for your team so they are well-prepared to support your QSR technologies.
Quick service restaurants are coming into the digital age by storm. Working with an experienced field services provider like Kinettix can help QSR operators and MSPs make these changes as quickly and smoothly as possible, thanks to the help of qualified local technicians and highly skilled project coordinators. As you work to update your restaurant’s tech stack, remember that your customers are waiting for it, and they’ll thank you for it later.