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“Delivery platforms are really affecting the way we do business,” said Nick Vojnovic, president of the Little Greek Fresh Grill, Palm Harbor, Fla.-based fast-casual chain. “We try to keep up on a market-by-market basis, teaming up with delivery partners who cover those markets best, and also trying to get our POS system integrated with their services as well.”

Restaurateurs like Vojnovic must adjust their operations to keep up with the trend, managing food quality and safety en route, contemplating smaller dining rooms, and making sure any tech the concept uses works with delivery providers’ platforms. Adapting for delivery often means investing in costly technology in addition to paying considerable fees to his third-party delivery providers.

He notes that no one really knows where or how off-premises will end up or what it will look like 10 years from now. “We’re watching, trying to keep up with what our competitors are doing and how they’re handling it,” he said.

Vojnovic is not alone in his thinking about how restaurateurs are changing their business model to account for the disruption. To help, the National Restaurant Association recently teamed up with marketing research firm Technomic, Inc. on a new report, “Harnessing Technology to Drive Off-Premises Sales,” which explores the key factors driving the growth of off-site consumption and how restaurateurs are using technology respond to it.

According to the report, consumers say that nearly 60 percent of their restaurant occasions are now off-premises, at the drive-thru, though takeout and curbside pickup, or delivery. The reasons range from convenience to weather to speed of service, among other things.

“The restaurant industry is constantly changing and technology’s role in it continues to become more critical,” said Hudson Riehle, the Association’s senior vice president of research. “In today’s on-demand world, off-premises capabilities are more important than ever to keep restaurants aligned with the wants and needs of their customers.”

Among the report’s key findings on off-premises’ popularity are:

  • 92 percent of consumers use drive-thru at least once a month
  • 34 percent of consumers order for delivery more often than a year ago
  • 79 percent of consumers use restaurant delivery (and 53 percent use third-party delivery services) at least once a month

For more information, and to download our report, visit www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/Research/research_offpremises_201910.