state-of-the-industry-report-image

According to the National Restaurant Association’s new State of the Industry report, operators, though generally optimistic about business conditions, say they must increase foot traffic, while keeping loyal customers content and attracting new customers at the same time.

The research indicates this year’s business environment is increasingly competitive, thus operators are seeking solutions to ensure success.

The good news, the report states, is that the majority of consumers eating out at restaurants are satisfied with their dining experiences. More than eight in 10 adult customers, or 85 percent, say they are satisfied with the service, food quality and cleanliness at the restaurants they frequent. Another three in four say they are satisfied with the value received for the price they paid.

Here are three additional ways customers claim restaurants can keep them happy. They include:

  • Focus on your neighborhood. More than 56 percent of all adults, and nearly three out of four millennial customers, say the ability to walk to a restaurant from their home would make them more likely to choose one restaurant over another.
     
  • Increase emphasis on value. According to Association research, eight in 10 restaurant operators say their customers are more value conscious today than they were two years ago. To appeal to those consumers, some restaurants are offering off-peak dining discounts, smaller-portioned menu items at lower price points, and customer loyalty/reward programs.
     
  • Ramp up marketing to millennials. A majority of operators say they are increasing their digital efforts to reach and attract younger, tech-savvy consumers. In each of the industry’s dining segments: quickservice, fast casual, casual, family, coffee and snack, and fine dining, restaurateurs said they plan this year to devote more resources to both social media and electronic marketing efforts. On the social media front, those efforts include a bigger presence via Facebook ads, as well as special offers via Twitter and Foursquare; email and online ads in the electronic marketing arena; and direct mail and newspaper ads in the traditional marketing space.

“As the industry continues to grow, restaurateurs will find new and innovative ways to appeal to consumers’ wants and needs,” says Hudson Riehle, the Association’s senior vice president of research. “Consumers want to use restaurants, and operators who listen to their patrons’ preferences while offering value, convenience and quality, will remain competitive in this rapidly changing market.”

Download the full State of the Industry report