Following the publication of Preoday’s ‘Food and Drink Chains Struggles’ research, we were delighted to receive some excellent responses from industry influencers. One of those was food service consultant, Peter Backman – who agreed with some of the points we made, but not all of them! Peter has agreed to let us post his response to us, which we will do in two parts. Part one is below….
You draw attention to the differences between what consumers say and what your professionals say and you acknowledge that “food and drink chains struggles cannot be solved with a single answer (and I agree!).
But you highlight that restaurants are wrong in thinking that their customers are looking for a unique experience. I think the nuanced answer lies in the purpose of eating out. If the focus is on food (and arguably that’s what the 91% of the consumers in your sample mean when they say that a “great menu” comes out on top) then why eat out? Why not buy it from a shop or have it delivered by Ocado? And pay less for it? In the face of these questions, all my evidence suggests that there are two purposes for eating out – the “transactional” one (I always do it, so I’ll do it again; I can’t be bothered to cook; I don’t know what else to do), and the “experiential” one (I’m looking for great night out; I have something to celebrate).
The nub of this is that those casual dining chains which are currently facing nasty choices, have chosen to pander to the transactional purposes. They don’t offer the experience. And the problem with this is that when consumers decide to save money they give up on the “transactional” experience not the “experiential” one. Hence not offering an experience is part of the current problem. (And by experience, I mean offering something that’s better than what the others are doing – not necessarily dancing on the tables!).
The other part of the problem, as you suggest it might be, is overcapacity. Consumers don’t see this – all they see is “more choice”. But when there is plenty of capacity and when, at the same time, people decide to eat out less, all operators face a potential decline in sales – and those that actually experience the decline are those that fail to offer the experience.
If you have comments on our research, please do send them through to us on firstname.lastname@example.org – alternatively, if you want to contact Peter Backman about his response, you can reach him through his website or on Twitter (@peterbackmanfs).
It’s not as catchy as: ‘When is a door not a door?’ (answer, when it’s a jar) but it speaks to the idea that in-car collection, and the technologies that support it, are flexible enough to bend to the needs of a business and its guests.
Delivery can be daunting to the uninitiated, and it might be tempting to sign up with a third-party ordering aggregator that offers the service, such as UberEats, but other options could suit your business and brand better. Here we present three different ‘levels’ of delivery, starting with the most basic – and cheapest method: doing it yourself.