Shaping the future of Fast-Casual with Freddy’s
Fast-casual is the fastest growing category in the restaurant industry, with studies showing that the segment is currently growing at around 8% per year, compared to the markets for quick-service restaurants (QSR ) and full-service restaurants (FSRs), each growing by about 5% per year.
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, one of the category’s rapidly growing fast-casual restaurants, entered its 33rd state last month. The Wichita, Kansas-based chain operates more than 400 locations across the United States. Freddy President and CEO Chris Dull recently spoke to PYMNTS about the factors driving the growth of the chain and the category as a whole.
One of the main advantages of fast-casual is that it can offer much of the flexibility of QSRs, meet consumers where they are across channels, while still delivering superior quality food.
“Consumers cook less and want speed and flexibility when it comes to meal times,” said Dull. “This has lent itself to the growth of fast-casuals as we can adapt to their ever-changing schedules.”
Chains that offer as many shopping channels as possible (drive-thru, mobile ordering, desktop ordering, pickup, curbside, delivery and restaurant ordering) have the advantage with today’s omnichannel consumer .
One size does not fit everyone anymore – today’s restaurant client expects personalization.
“The improvements to data capture will allow concepts to better understand consumer behaviors and will result in more personalized marketing efforts,” said Dull. “Our world has become increasingly digital, and the fast-casual space is no different, so we expect to see even more growth and creativity in this space.”
Restaurant brands are increasingly taking advantage of their mobile and web platforms to understand consumer behavior. Understanding users’ previous purchases and becoming hyper-specific with segmentation allows brands to build a more personal relationship with their customers, drive sales, and build loyalty.
Read more: Beverage chain Tastea uses digital segmentation to relieve growing pains
In today’s job market, quick and relaxed concepts that can get the most out of the staff they have will have the benefit of meeting demand and maintaining quality.
“I see workforce optimization through better use of technology and automation as growing trends in the fast-paced casual space,” said Dull. “I believe that the fast-casual will continue to have strong vertical growth in the restaurant segment, and the adoption of new technologies will be an even higher priority.”
Granted, automation has come a long way this year alone. Robotic solutions are emerging to manage the various stages of the cooking process, and fully automated restaurants are on the way, aided by the rise of digital control.
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Fast-casuals can take advantage of QSRs, taking advantage of the efficiency of the drive-thru, as well as the high demand for the channel, to drive sales. Across the industry, restaurants are creating new drive-thru concepts, investing in optimizing the drive-thru they already have, and finding innovative ways to integrate mobile ordering and other digital technologies into experience.
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PYMNTS research featured in the May edition of the Order to Eat report, created in collaboration with Paytronix, found that more than one in four already vaccinated restaurant customers would be encouraged to spend more on their food orders if the restaurant offered a drive-through pickup. .
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“We have put energy into optimizing our drive-thru technologies because we know this is an area that has helped to strengthen our growth and has enabled many of our sites to thrive, even for pandemic, “Dull said, adding that recent adjustments have shortened the chain’s average check time by 15 seconds. “This has the potential to increase the number of guests we can serve during peak hours by 30%. We are monitoring our results very closely, and this will certainly impact our restaurant design decisions in the future. “