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Restaurant Sector: Top Tips for 2019

2019

The restaurant industry is huge and competition fierce. As evidence for how hard it can be, consider how many chains and independents were forced out in the past year alone…. it’s scary when you think about it.

So, as the new year starts, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take a look at what the guests of 2019 are going to expect and what improvements operators can make to ensure their venue remains a firm favourite next year?

Our top 10 tips – all of which are based upon our insights backed up with feedback from a survey we conducted with more than 500 diners (because, ultimately, they know what they want in 2019!) ...

So, in no particular order….

1.  Quality is key

When it comes to selecting a place to eat, 55% of those we surveyed confirmed that quality of food was their number one determining factor.

In a highly competitive market, managers can sometimes lose focus of what is important. The top two answers given by diners when asked what makes them return to a restaurant or pub was the quality of service and food provided.

So, don’t get side tracked with ‘fancy’ campaigns before you make sure that the foundation is secure. Make your venue renowned for producing great food, every time and diners won’t have reason to look elsewhere when they want to eat out.

2. Variety

One in five diners now has a dietary requirement. Food intolerances and allergies are on the rise – gluten/dairy free etc. – and so are the number of vegetarians/vegans/flexitarians. To ignore them could mean turning away one in five guests, which isn’t good for business.

Provide creative and extensive menus for diners, to widen your restaurant's appeal.

Even if traditionally providing vegan options was not on brand, in 2018 we started to see steakhouses incorporating plant-based options in their menus.

3. Make your kitchen green

People are becoming more aware of their environmental foot print and 62% of diners said they would actively choose a venue that promotes sustainability over one that doesn’t.

So, if your venue or brand is green and sustainable make sure you communicate this in your market as it’s a big factor for diners choosing where to eat.

Remember, for every meal eaten in a UK restaurant, nearly half a kilo of food waste is created – through preparation, spoilage and what gets left behind on diners’ plates.

4. Make your team your USP

Your team are your brand ambassadors and the key to making you stand out from the competition. Make sure you engage with your team by understanding what motivates them as well as any potential problems throughout their employment journey. Develop training programmes to ensure your team know what is expected of them and empower them to deliver an exceptional guest experience.

Measuring your team Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS) will ensure you know how likely your team are to recommend you as an employer. A great guest experience will never be delivered by a disengaged team.

5. Offer specials

83% of diners surveyed said that they would be prepared to eat at a specified off-peak time of day if they could get a deal.

Dynamic menus are on the rise in which restaurants offer diners a special price for them to eat at a traditionally quieter time of the day.

6. Healthy is here to stay

Being healthy is no longer just a new year resolution, an increasing number of people want to be healthy but still want to eat out. Calorie counting is something many operators now provide but not everyone wants to know how many calories they are consuming or for that to determine what they eat.

Providing interesting healthy options and exciting non-alcoholic drink options will ensure you cater for everyone i.e. those that want a treat and to hell with the calories and those that want to eat healthy but also enjoy what they eat and drink.

With 29% of millennials choosing not to drink, this is definitely a trend that is going to grow. 

7. Manage your online reputation

Of the diners surveyed, only 17% said that online reviews did not influence their decision on where to eat out. A staggering 83% confirmed that they always checked online reviews with 28% stating that a poor review would mean that they would not eat there.

The instant nature of social media means that diners have a platform on which to share their experience with the world - good or bad. Operators must therefore monitor, respond and influence what gets posted about them in order to protect and grow their brand and guest loyalty.

8. Take away

The take away industry is set to grow to £11.2bn in the next five years* and four in ten diners said they would use a local restaurant more if it had a takeaway service/option. so it is definitely a growth area for operators to consider.

If you can offer diners the option to take away without disrupting the restaurant’s in-house activity and customer service, you could see a significantly increased footfall through your doors.

9. Make payment painless

67% of diners stated that they would not want to wait more than 5 minutes to pay their bill and that a long wait would impact on their experience.

Asking for a deposit for a booking is also a contentious issue - 70% of our diners said they wouldn’t pay a deposit to book a table.  

So why not try and resolve both issues by offering guests the option to provide payment details at the time of booking? Explaining that the card will not be charged until the bill agreed at the end of the meal.

10. Plan

There are always key dates throughout the year that provide the opportunity to offer themes. This year start thinking about how to make the most of the Rugby World Cup which starts in September, and it’s never too early to plan for Christmas. Pre-planning will ensure you are ready to catch the early bookers and you can maximise the opportunities.

Good luck in 2019 from all the team here at HGEM

*Takeaway Economy Report 

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