What’s Hot in Restaurant Franchising Right Now? Two Industry Experts Weigh In
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The past two years have seen significant changes in the way food and beverage franchises work and have led to significant shifts in consumer behavior regarding dining. The most successful franchises were able adapt quickly to the changing food and beverage industry and thrive.
Currently, the leading business model in restaurants is QSR — otherwise known as quick service restaurants or fast food, like McDonald’s or Taco Bell. QSR restaurants were able to pivot well during the pandemic and gained significant market share. Robin Gagnon, co-founder of We sell Restaurants , says that they were able “to move into delivery channels which weren’t available; they were also able to expand their third-party take-out business– they just got it better than anyone else.” “So, coming out of the pandemic we’re seeing all QSR models pricing at high multiples and selling at a faster rate and the highest turnover. “
QSRs were able to adapt their models faster than full-service restaurants, and they embraced more in terms of technology and flexibility to meet shifting consumer demand. Gagnon states that QSRs were able to increase sales and improve their labor models, as well as their food costs, in the moment with agility. They have been the most successful through all three periods of the pandemic.
There’s no getting around it — the big buzz in restaurants right now is tech in varying degrees. Though the industry’s current hottest technology has been available for years, demand has spiked in the past two years as online ordering, optional contact and need for alternative labor has increased. “I have worked with brands where there was no online ordering, but you no longer can get away with ignoring technology in restaurants,” says Lauren Fernandez, founder and CEO of Full Course. “Franchisors have to invest in this tech stack, and that is not only an additional expense for franchisors but also for franchisees. “
However, it’s not just online ordering and delivery that restaurants need to adapt to — increasingly, it’s lack of labor. Many franchises are looking for technology alternatives to address the labor shortage that has been affecting their operations. Whether it be in the kitchen through automation or out in the streets with robotic delivery, franchises are finding ways to incorporate a new wave of technology to minimize costs, increase efficiency and boost profitability.
Franchisors and franchisees should be strategic and intentional when entering the tech sector. Fernandez states, “You need to ensure that you are pushing technology for the right purposes and not just for technology’s sake.” Be careful and meticulous when testing technology. You can get a lot tech in any industry. It’s easy to get stuff that’s not well vetted or makes a lot false promises. This is why it’s so important for franchisors and technology vendors to test the tech before putting it into a system. “
Do not be swept away by fads
When looking at thriving restaurant trends, it can be tempting to take the leap into spiking demand for concepts that focus on niches like poke, fried chicken or the recent stuffed cookie craze. Be careful not to jump in too quickly or late. It takes time for the market’s to decide if these concepts will become a fad or a lasting industry that eventually becomes their own category. Fernandez states that there is a lot of market saturation. There’s buzz and everyone wants in, but then it becomes saturated. “Brands are testing chicken to grab market share, but I predict that we will see some consolidation. It’s not going away, but it’s not enough. “
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