Meeting the Rising Expectations of Today’s QSR Diner: 5 Restaurant Growth Strategies for 2022 and Beyond

Now that QSR and fast casual restaurant customers have experienced increased convenience, new digital ordering habits have formed and created a higher standard for quick-service restaurant service, we can all assume these customer expectations aren’t just a passing fad; they’re here to stay.

Some interesting figures to consider:

These stats all point to the kind of innovation and future-forward thinking that has bolstered this industry through a couple of unprecedented years. The pandemic—and restaurants’ ability to reconfigure—erased many of the digital adoption gaps keeping executives from pulling the trigger on broader initiatives, like apps, delivery, curbside, and other omnichannel efforts considered back-burner items previously. (QSR Magazine)

QSR operators are now bonafide experts at pivoting to meet the ever-changing needs of their customers. 

These five 2022 restaurant growth strategies will inspire you to keep the momentum going.

1. Expand digital ordering options.

McKinsey reports that food delivery has become a global market worth more than $150 billion, triple the global market value in 2017. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that today’s diners love online ordering and delivery. So, make it a priority to create and promote easy ways for customers to place those online orders — this could mean investing in new technology. Multi-channel digital ordering options include:

  • First-party online ordering for desktop and mobile
  • First-party mobile app-based ordering
  • Call center
  • Third-party delivery apps

2. Focus on loyalty.

Consumers have a dizzying, endless list of choices when it comes to ordering online. It may seem fruitless to go head-to-head with the big-name food delivery services that seem to dominate the online ordering space, but QSRs that focus on building brand loyalty can actually stand out from the crowd. 

Reward customers who use your app or website to place orders with you directly. Look for a branded, in-house ordering platform that allows you to manage a robust loyalty program and offer special incentives for direct-order customers:

  • Special pick up areas or curbside service
  • Wider menu selection
  • More options to customize
  • Better service
  • Waived delivery fees
  • Exclusive promotions and discounts
  • Early “insider” access to new menu items 

3. Meet (or exceed) rising customer expectations.

More competitors in the QSR space means customers have more choices and ultimately, higher expectations from the brands they choose. McKinsey predicts the sector will see rising expectations in areas like:

  • Delivery speed, with a goal of less than 30 minutes being a “differentiator” among platforms
  • Food quality, with an expectation of restaurant-quality meals even after transit time
  • 100% order accuracy and completeness, including on special requests and menu customizations 
  • Periodic menu updates with new menu items coming out regularly

4. Look into influencer partnerships.

Influencers can help get the word out about what you have to offer to QSR diners. While a regional restaurant may have once upon a time hired a celebrity to appear in commercials in print ads, a better investment today is often an online influencer partnership. 

National brands like McDonald’s routinely partner with influencers like Travis Scott (namesake of the brand’s “Travis Scott Meal”), but this tactic can be tailored for local markets with a great deal of success, too. 

Reach out to local personalities with high-profile, active social media accounts. A few messages on Facebook from a recognizable local voice about your in-house ordering platform and amazing loyalty program can go a long way in 2022. 

5. Improve your drive-thru, pick up, and delivery offerings.

The frequency of dining in among customers may eventually return to pre-pandemic levels, but for 2022, investments in drive-thru, pick up, and delivery are more likely to pay off versus trying to lure customers back inside. As you develop a brand strategy for the coming months and years, lean into the consumer trend toward dining at home. 

Consider bringing on your own ordering platform and reducing third-party delivery services to gain better control over your brand’s online presence. Not only will you save on fees, but you’ll have more opportunities to build brand loyalty — better yet, you’ll have instant, in-depth access to customer behavior data that will empower you to make better business choices along the way. 

Looking Ahead

Life in the post-pandemic world is filled with “new normals,” but QSRs are uniquely positioned to meet the rising expectations of today’s customers. With help from Onosys, you can bring together the right blend of tech, loyalty incentives, and modern marketing techniques, QSRs are sure to put up even bigger numbers heading into 2023 and beyond.

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