Following up on last year and looking ahead at this year’s projections, restaurant industry businesses are managing to keep ahead and consider customer desires despite some industry-wide obstacles. How so?
Despite concerns plaguing franchising and food-focused businesses across the country such as minimum wage hikes and potential joint-employer responsibilities facing franchisors, the food industry keeps moving forward in response to the different demands of customers across the country.
In examining an economist’s perspective concerning last year’s steady increase in food and drink spending, the National Restaurant Association’s Bruce Grindy holds that not only are jobs on the rise throughout the sector (continuing strong at an increase of over 3% for the third year in a row now, which is the first occurrence like it since 20+ years ago) but gasoline price reductions are influencing customer spending.
As the cost of getting around by car goes down, customers generally possess more extra income and the food industry is benefiting from this. Gas prices gradually fell over the course of the last six months of the year by over $1.40, and Grindy suspects that December sales increases in the restaurant industry, which were preceded by seven successive months of sales increases, are directly related to this shift in gas costs.
Alternately, to take a more visual approach to some estimates of this year’s performance, an infographic developed by the IFA based on IHS Global Insight projections for 2015 reveals that on the employment front, quick service restaurants and the entire food & hospitality sector are projected to lead the way with 38% and 65% job creation growth, respectively.
Satisfying customer demand in the food sector of late is involving increasing flexibility and boosting customization options. This includes more functional ways to process mobile orders on-line for greater convenience and an increase in diverse menu offerings that cater to different palates and dietary needs, both continuing shifts focused on listening to the voices of customers.
Likewise, maintaining quality standards also means maintaining the trust that a brand has developed over time with its customers, whether in or outside of franchising. Such maintenance reflects that quality standards can be relied upon to deliver what customers expect to receive at their favorite local eateries without compromise.
Such is the case with Chipotle’s recent decision to stop the use of pork products for now so that company policies of offering pig meat products derived exclusively from farms adhering to certain animal welfare standards may be respected. Though removing pork items for now may inconvenience some customers, the move speaks for the brand’s commitment to keeping incoming food items in alignment with operational policy.