Connections for Success

 

04.04.11

Eating Made Easy
Brandt Kucharski

Fifty years ago the profitability of a restaurant was measured in the most simplistic means; how many tables do you have and often can you turn your tables, or its capacity.  Restaurants that were consistently occupied flourished while restaurants that consistently had open seats struggled.  The formula for success remained unchanged until about 20 years ago with the introduction of large casual dining chains.  Restaurants such as  TGI Friday’s, Applebee’s and Chili’s marketed to budget-conscious families, giving them an alternative option for dining with the whole family. This transformation had a dramatic effect on the restaurant industry. As chain restaurants continued to sprout up around the country,  the traditional restaurant owner was faced with not only a decrease in consumer demand but lower overall margins as large chain restaurants had the purchase power to offer lower overall prices.

Although independent restaurants competed with the large chain restaurants by leveraging several strategies such as reducing menu portions and offering coupons and promotional items, perhaps the most aggressive and successful technique utilized was the introduction of delivery.  Thus the formula for success changed once again.    Delivery of food to the restaurant consumer allowed restaurants to maintain the same level of overhead with respect to waiters and waitresses and still added incremental revenue to the bottom line even if all tables were filled.  The consumer could enjoy a fully prepared meal in the comfort of their home without the hassle of having to pack the kids up in the car.

Technologies such as the Internet, smartphones and tablets have changed the success formula once again making delivery more efficient and convenient than its humble beginnings.  Ten years ago if a family wanted delivery, they would have to know which restaurants delivered, have a menu on hand and make a phone call.   Additionally, it was challenging for a restaurant to raise awareness about its delivery services.  Today, a professional working late can leverage an application such as Grubhub and order a meal, choosing from a large variety of restaurants, without ever leaving their desk or a mom can order dinner from her phone while waiting for the kids to finish soccer practice.

The restaurant industry has evolved much on its own.  However, technology has helped to level the playing field by giving restaurants greater exposure and the ability to expand 0perations beyond the capacity of its dining room and consumers the convenience of ordering and enjoying virtually any type of food from sushi to Thai and Mexican to Cuban from the comforts of their own home or office.

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