What’s Next for the QSR Sector? [Part 2]Author: Smoothie King
Part 1 of “What’s Next for the QSR Sector?” highlighted the ongoing transformation of the quick-service restaurant segment toward greater opportunities for customization, transparency with ingredients and even more pronounced push for convenience – especially with drive-thrus.
In Part 2, we’re taking a closer look at technology. From in-store equipment that improves operations and consistency to mobile apps that allow customers to order their favorite drink and build loyalty points, QSR brands – Smoothie King included – are making investments that help solidify and grow a network of stores in markets nationally and globally.
Growth of Technology to Improve the Customer Experience
On top of convenience, in-store technology has also improved efficiency and product quality. For example, Smoothie King has migrated from a largely paper-based system for tracking drink orders to a digital format. As guests order their smoothies and the team member enters it into the POS system, the recipe management system automatically produces the list of ingredients and their respective quantities for each order. The benefits for operators are two-fold:
- First, their team members can take greater pride in the fact that they’re delivering a smoothie correctly the first time and not making mistakes.
- Second, the store will ultimately see reduced expenses resulting from food waste attributed to team member errors.
Another aspect of technology that has evolved in the QSR sector is online ordering and mobile apps, which has become an effective channel for giving guests rewards. Smoothie King is primarily focused on rewarding guests for making purchases and can redeem reward points usually for free smoothies. These apps, again, give store owners a chance to develop stronger relationships with their guests, inspire brand loyalty and motivate guests to repeatedly visit the store.
From a marketing and communications perspective, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Local store marketing is a major part of marketing spend. For a concept like Smoothie King, you’re ultimately trying to get consumers to try the product, which then ideally leads them to become repeat guests.
Social media and other digital channels have given franchisees the opportunity to reach out to consumers on a larger scale, but many times with a similar objective, such as inviting people to sign up for a local 5K race that Smoothie King sponsors or promoting a new smoothie with a coupon or discount. In the end, it’s about getting the product in front of people who want to be inspired to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Social media has also opened up new opportunities to build relationships with guests and engage with them directly outside of a brick-and-mortar location.
An Evolving Landscape
With many of these trends, brands have to take an almost wait-and-see approach to see whether they’ll become an enduring part of the QSR landscape. But for concepts like Smoothie King, many of the features of the brand’s menu and mission have been in place before the trends began to take shape in recent history.
For me, it’s important to maintain a focus on product innovation, consistency and operational efficiencies that ultimately improve the guest experience. I believe this is what ultimately puts a brand in the strongest position to not only adapt to developing trends, but potentially shape them as well.
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