2018 Restaurant Trends and Success Strategies

Drive CX Restaurant Trends 2018

The 2018 restaurant trends are in!

The 2018 restaurant trends are looking positive and restaurant operators are becoming more optimistic that conditions will improve this year. However, considering what industry experts are saying, there is no room for complacency. Restaurant brand acquisitions are up.  And, successful restaurant chains with “tight” operations continue to acquire those that can’t keep up with rapidly changing consumer and industry trends.

Before we take a closer look at 2018 restaurant trends, let’s debrief on the past challenges of 2017. May it bring you some comfort that you were not alone in your struggles with labor retention and increasing competition.  Alternatives to traditional restaurant operations such as delivery, food trucks, grocery and convenience chain meals are compounding the challenge of shrinking margins.

These pressures are predicted to continue and intensify in 2018.  Restaurants need strategies to turn challenges into competitive advantages. More and more, restaurateurs are employing technology to systemize and amplify their successful management practices.

From a CX perspective, technology advances in 2018 will include customer feedback on payment devices.  “Live guest experience management” will replace next day email surveys and phone calls to “troubleshoot” poor experiences. A real-time resolution will reduce the need for social reputation management.

Now based on articles by Restaurant Business, the National Restaurant Association, and the Nation’s Restaurant News., here’s what the 2018 restaurant trends will likely be and what questions to ask for turning challenges into ways to stay ahead of the competition.

Top 2018 restaurant trends and CX Opportunities:

  1. Restaurant menus are getting smaller. How do we incorporate customer and employee feedback when we make our menu decisions?
  2. Continued growth in high quality, fast casual. Do we fully understand our customers’ experience? Do we know how to create “brand addictive” customer behaviours at the local level?
  3. Growth in super indulgent food alongside growth in super healthy foods.  How well can connect new menu options to what our customers want?
  4. Increased disclosure around nutritional information. Do we know if this is important to our own customers?
  5. Minimum wage hikes are driving the need for operational productivity increases. Do we have a strategy for improving employee productivity to protect margins?
  6. A move to a more personalized guest experiences. From our customers’ eyes. . . . do we know when we are getting it right and when we are missing the mark?
  7. Doubling down on tech to mine consumer insights and improve operations. Can we get “live” customer feedback and solve issues as they happen?  Can we translate customer insights into actions that increase sales and profits?
  8. Off-premise restaurant operations on the rise in the form of delivery, grocery food outlets, food trucks and more. How do we measure and maintain the quality of the “off-premise” customer experience?
  9. A shallow employee pool is putting the spotlight on how to attract and keep employees keep patrons coming back. How do we catch our team members doing things right? Are we providing constructive feedback?
  10. Baby boomers are driving sales as customers and filling in labor force gaps. Are we creating a customer and team environment that keeps up with changing demographics?

A new awareness is emerging . . .

It is around the importance of employee engagement as a way to increase customer return visits. To quote Richard Branson, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. The key to applying these “wise words” is to better understand your employee population.  Ask yourself, “how do I create an exceptional workplace that empowers and engages teams to create a stellar customer experience”?

Compelling statistics are emerging that engaged employees result in 23-25% higher productivity, leading to direct improvements to the bottom line. At a time when wage hikes are putting tremendous pressure on margins, the restaurant industry is looking at how to measure team satisfaction alongside customer satisfaction. They are asking questions like, who are my most valuable customers?  Who are my most valuable team members?  And, how do I foster a deeper connection between them?

Who is Drive CX?  We are a customer experience management company that empowers team members to continually deliver amazing customer experiences. We work with successful, expanding restaurant chains, who want to leverage technology to maintain the quality of the customer and team experience as they grow. We use customer insights to drive sales and profits by increasing team productivity and Customer Lifetime Value.

For more information book a consultation with DriveCx.com.

Article by Dale Dubberley/CEO


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