4 Trends in the Restaurant Industry we learned at the NRA Show

4 Trends in the Restaurant Industry we learned at the NRA Show

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Restaurant Rennovation Trends

Last week, Luke from PPM attended the annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) show in Chicago.  The NRA show is the biggest event of the year for the restaurant industry, featuring keynotes and education sessions with top foodservice experts, networking with all the top players in the industry, and hundreds of exhibitors showing off some of the latest developments in food preparation systems, transportation, point-of-sale, customer experience, and much more.

PPM had never attended the NRA show before, but over the last several years we’ve completed numerous As-Built Survey programs for clients in the restaurant industry:  McDonald’s (multiple times), Wing Stop, Papa Murphy’s, Wendy’s, and the biggest one of all – over 1,200 KFCs in 2016.  We’ve found that our clients usually need accurate As-Builts of their restaurants for 1 of 2 reasons:

  1. They are undergoing a major remodel program (in KFC’s case, it’s the customer dining area)
  2. They are expanding and opening new locations

With so much As-Built activity happening for PPM in the restaurant industry, we decided that the time was right to get out to Chicago and learn more about how the industry operates.  So over the course of 2 days, Luke visited hundreds of booths, listened to speeches, attended social events at night, and best of all… stuffed himself with all the free food samples that were offered on the exhibit floor.  When he got back to Long Beach and emerged from his food coma, we talked about what he had seen and heard at the show.  Based on that experience, here are 4 emerging trends that stood out:

  1. Robots.  I’m not talking about the human-like kind that walk around, talk to you, and help you defeat Darth Vader (yet) but rather the stationary machines that can perform any number of repetitive tasks.  Many factors are coming together to make the use of robots more viable including decreasing costs, rising pressure on wages, a steadily improving labor market (making it more difficult to hire), more emphasis on food safety, 24/7 availability, and more.  It’s true – before too long that Big Mac you have for lunch could be made by a robot.
  2. Point of Sale Innovations.  Ever since the invent of “fast” food, almost every trip to one of these establishments has started the same way:  Wait in line, and when it’s your turn, tell your order to a cashier.  Pay, receive your number, and wait to be called.  While this experience is still common, you’ve probably already noticed that it’s no longer ubiquitous.  Many restaurant chains including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Panera Break, have embraced the use of kiosks to allow customers to place their own orders.  Another growing trend is the use of smartphone apps where customers can skip the line altogether by ordering and paying with their phone, then simply picking up their food when they arrive.  As with robots, the intersection of labor costs and technology (along with customer preference), is fueling this change.
  3. Data Analytics.  There is ALOT of data generated with all those POS transactions in a restaurant.  Add to is the increasing use of smartphone apps which allow the restaurant to gain previously inaccessible information about each specific user.  With more data, more powerful computers, and smarter software, its a great time to be in the data analytics business.  Restaurants are increasingly leveraging this data to help them find trends in sales patterns, the effectiveness of promotions, consumer preferences, and countless other insights.
  4. Restaurant Design.  Restaurants are constantly changing their layout, decoration, and other design elements (some more frequently then others).  Some recent trends in design include energy efficiency, a more streamlined counter, and bright, comfortable dining areas that encourage customers to linger.

As these and other trends continue and the restaurant business continues to evolve, PPM provides value to our clients by giving them the “As-Built” information they need to plan and execute remodels and other store improvements.  Our nationwide survey team can handle up to 50+ As-Built surveys per week, allowing a high-volume remodel program to proceed on schedule and on-budget, with minimal downtime for the operater.  We work hand-in-hand with our client’s Planning and Design teams, to ensure that they are getting the exact As-Built information they need, the way they need it, for every restaurant.

Want to chat about how we can help you be successful on an upcoming restaurant remodel program?  Shoot me an email at andy@ppmco.net.

Thanks for reading!