Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Service and Quality are the KEYS - ALWAYS

What has the restaurant industry learned from the recession?
More than anything, the economic downturn reminded us that every guest counts, and that to attract guests, we need to excel in both food quality and customer service. While special deals and promotions might attract attention, the best way to make first-time guests into frequent guests is to provide a great experience every time. You have to be careful when it comes to discounting -- I think it will hurt the businesses that offer them and our industry as a whole if we diminish the value of our products and services. Providing great food and great service in a clean and comfortable environment has been the focus at my restaurants and it is something we will continue to do.

What's your best advice for restaurants in 2010?
As always, providing a superior guest experience is the No. 1 advice at any time. In the new year, we will start to see some signs of economic recovery, but it won't happen overnight. My best advice would be to join the National Restaurant Association and your state restaurant association to capitalize on the guidance and benefits that membership provides. While I'm now the chairman of the Association, I have been a member for many years, and it's one of the best business decisions I've ever made. The fact is that my membership has paid for itself many times over.

What leadership lesson would you like to pass on to restaurant operators?
Valuing your team is the most important leadership quality in my book. Without great people helping you, you won't get very far. Recruiting and retaining quality employees is of vital importance to every restaurant, and something I have always kept top-of-mind. The labor market is not as tight as it has been in the past several years, so we now have a greater pool of career-seekers to choose from, but that is not likely to last forever. Training and rewarding your current staff will pay off in the long run.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Breakfast - ALWAYS A WINNER!

Consumers find breakfast fare comforting and many, especially women, wish they could eat it at any time of the day. A new study by foodservice industry consultant Technomic finds that nearly half of consumers surveyed (46 percent) say they would like to see full-service restaurants offer breakfast throughout the day.

About a third of consumers (32 percent) would like breakfast offered all day in limited-service restaurants. In both cases, females were significantly more interested in breakfast items for lunch or dinner than were males.

'Operators looking to expand breakfast into other dayparts should be mindful of their customer base and develop new offerings accordingly,' says Darren Tristano, EVP at Technomic. 'Understanding the general flavor, ingredient and preparation preferences held by female consumers can help operators and suppliers introduce the most appealing breakfast options beyond morning hours for these guests.'

The findings are part of Technomic's new Breakfast Consumer Trend Report, designed to help restaurant operators and suppliers understand consumer attitudes, preferences and dining behavior associated with breakfast. Other interesting findings include:

• One out of four consumers (25 percent) often treat themselves to a large, traditional breakfast on the weekend.

• Four in ten (43 percent) say they visit their preferred restaurant for weekend breakfasts because the food tastes really good, while weekday breakfast visits are driven by inexpensive offerings (45 percent) and convenience of location (38 percent).

• More than three in five consumers (63 percent) say they expect their breakfast purchases at restaurants and convenience stores to remain about the same in the coming year.

• Consumer interest in breakfast sandwiches has grown since 2007. More than three-quarters of today's consumers (77 percent) purchase breakfast sandwiches sometimes or often during weekdays, compared to 73 percent in 2007. Breakfast sandwiches fared even better on weekends, increasing from 61 percent two years ago to 70 percent today.

• Consumers report an increased interest in premium coffee. Roughly a third of today's consumers (34 percent) prefer premium coffee as compared to 29% of consumers surveyed in 2007.

• Fast-food restaurants have improved in consumers' perception of healthy food offerings. Only a third of consumers (35 percent) say they would like fast-food establishments to offer more healthy options, down from 43 percent in 2007.

• Leading fast-casual restaurant chains are adding new entrees and side items to their breakfast menus faster than any other restaurant subsegment.

Consumer analysis found in the Breakfast Consumer Trend Report is based on recent online surveys with 1,500 U.S. consumers about their consumption behavior, attitudes and preferences for breakfast. The Menu Insights section, derived from Technomic's proprietary MenuMonitor database and primary and secondary industry data, provides an in-depth look at how leading, emerging and independent restaurant chain operators are menuing breakfast. Additionally, menu and consumer data from Technomic's 2007 edition of this report is discussed and compared to current findings. Appendices include detailed profiles of 15 innovative and emerging breakfast concepts, and menu listings of new, limited-time offerings and deleted breakfast foods and beverages.