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Blog at Chefify

Adapting To The Restaurant Industry's Future

May 30 2019 - 2:55pm
The culinary world is in a constant state of flux. Romantic ideas of opening up a little bistro and putting your menu board out on the pavement have their place, but the nature of the industry has changed so much that you may find it hard to survive on charm and quintessential ambience alone.

In recent news, national culinary treasure, Jamie Oliver has had to confront the devastating aftermath of a rapidly changing industry as 25 of his restaurants went into administration. 

"I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected [...]We launched Jamie's Italian in 2008 with the intention of positively disrupting mid-market dining in the UK high street, with great value and much higher quality ingredients, best-in-class animal welfare standards and an amazing team who shared my passion for great food and service. And we did exactly that." - Jamie Oliver

So, if Jamie, with all his foresight and desire for quality ingredients and animal welfare preservation, could get it wrong, what message does that send to the rest of the industry? A representative for the joint administrators handling the debacle stated that the current casual dining sector is indeed not in a great position. The ongoing political climate and changing consumer behaviour is affecting establishments across the board. Customers would rather spend their "going out" money on cheaper alternatives such as coffee shops and engaging dining experiences like markets or in-store cafe's.

What are the underlying causes of these shifts, and what can your business do to survive?

Eating behaviour

A new generation of diners is shaking things up for restaurants. Generation Z (the demographic cohort after millennials) want healthier options in smaller, to-go varieties that suit their budgets and ad-hoc eating schedules.

These consumers engage well with digital communication due to their frequent use of internet-enabled devices, making it essential for restaurants to utilise social media and digital tools such as interactive applications.

Sustainability

Being "green" is a priority for the modern consumer – and we're not just talking salads and broccoli here. Environmental concerns are a huge factor for customers. From packaging to food waste, to ethically sourced ingredients, your patrons are likely to show an interest in how much of an impact your business makes on the environment in order to get their final product out on the table.

This is evident in the increasing number of vegan and vegetarian options on menus across a range of established restaurants, as well as new businesses that are capitalising on the demand for healthier, meat-free alternatives that are co-incidentally also far more sustainable to create.

Dining experience and education

Dining out is no longer a formal affair. It's about casual gathering and the ability to share a meal with friends and family in a comfortable and hospitable environment. This means that restaurants cannot isolate disabled diners and must work harder to make the overall experience within their venues uncomplicated and easy to navigate.

There is a host of new technology available that simplifies everything for restaurants – from the way that waiters process orders, to interactive digital menus that allow customers to make selections without requiring assistance from a server. Make sure that you implement the right kind of digital tools that will complement your particular brand and encourage staff and patrons to make use of them.

Restaurants can now collect all kinds of useful data to assist in their business decision-making process. You can now monitor how often a dish is being ordered to help you anticipate the stock levels you will require; equally, you can also cut down on the cost of stocking ingredients for meals that hardly get requested.

Improved operations

The wild days of Gordon Ramsay blowing steam out of his ears and verbally abusing employees are no longer viewed as acceptable. A functioning kitchen impacts the success of your business profoundly. It is therefore highly necessary to have a thorough understanding of the best way to manage employees.

There are various software systems available to help you schedule more suitable shifts, ensuring that you forecast your labour needs more accurately and are strategic with your rotas. This results in happier employees, higher productivity and a decrease in costs.

Furthermore, you can use stock-taking software to help manage your inventory and anticipate peaks and throughs accordingly, enabling you to save money and ensure that you always have fresh ingredients to hand.

The future

Primarily, the future of the industry is looking a lot like how the present should be: focussed on the needs and wants of the customer while dishing up ethically sourced, authentic ingredients that can be consumed in a way which is comfortable and convenient for the patron. The people working for your business should feel acknowledged, supported and encouraged to perform at their peak – always.

Personalisation is also a key feature of the future dining experience; technology will help to facilitate more independence for consumers in that they will be able to select exactly how they would like their food. An important takeaway is also price. While Gen Z will pay more healthy alternatives, there is a growing movement towards more conscientious spending as individuals seek worthwhile experiences. Make sure that you offer value for money and don't get swept up in the gimmicks.

 

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