Fast casual restaurants may not offer full table service but they still deliver higher quality food and service than other fast food restaurants. Successful fast casual restaurants strive to offer upscale ambiance, fresher ingredients and quality counter service. Major players in the restaurant industry like Five Guys, Qdoba, WingStop, Chipotle, Panera Bread, Firehouse Subs and many others have landed themselves in the fast casual realm, positioning their landing somewhere between fast food establishments and table service dining.
Fast casual restaurants are increasing in competition and can bring in huge profits. But which practices are most important for a successful restaurant in this category?
Address Customer Demand with Technology
Consumers are looking for convenience. Due to increases in technology, successful restaurants now offer customers a seamless experience both in person and online through Self-Service Kiosks, mobile app ordering and online ordering.
Restaurants like WingStop have found that staying on top of customer demand helps to improve profitability. Online orders bring in an average of $4 more than a typical tab, providing a seamless experience for buyers as well as more profit. It is a win-win situation.
Customers also are looking for healthier food with transparent ingredient labeling. Panera, which attribute their success to their healthier menu options, is the most profitable fast casual restaurant, bringing in $4.8 billion in annual sales. A franchise that delivers quality and fast food without all of the additives will meet heaps of success in today’s market.
Customers who want better quality ingredients are less price sensitive than those shopping at the average fast food joint. In fact, Franchise Help notes that the average fast casual check is $12, while the average fast food check is only $5. As a result, pricing can be more flexible, enabling fast casual restaurants to be more lucrative.
Another key to a successful fast casual restaurant is found in a solid pricing model. Qudoba found success by switching from a la carte pricing over to all-inclusive pricing. This made their restaurant stand out among competitors.