Three Trends Shape the Future of the Restaurant Industry

My clients in Louisiana have a before-and-after story that’s part of their constant inner dialogue: “before Hurricane Katrina (or Rita or Ike) and after it.” 

But never before has there been such a nationwide, clear-cut break/delineation/before-and-after line in our industry.

Now we have “before the lockdowns and after the lockdowns” – before COVID-19 and after/learning to live with COVID-19.

Success completely focuses on learning to live with COVID-19.

Like a lookout on a ship, top operators endeavor to understand their new world, and take action every day to operate in a changed reality. 

Three Trends to Focus On 

In my recent virtual workshop, “Dominate Your Segment in the Post-Pandemic World,” some of my best clients, members of my elite-level Restaurant Owners Success Club, and other owners from the restaurant community – discussed the things that will shape all our futures. 

Here are three of their key trends: 

1.    Labor: The Take-This-Job-and-Shove-It Economy. During a recent restaurant visit one of my clients’ top managers lamented the lack of applications and people who did not want to work. But, 10 minutes later, when I asked him about his family, he told me his wife had decided not to go back to work after being home with the kids during the lockdown. This led to eye-rolls and laughter. Top operators have examined their relationship with the workforce – from soliciting applications all the way through to retention and everything in between, line by line – and constantly make improvements.

2.    Technology: Now Everyone Wants to Talk About It. In “olden times” (as my nine-year-old daughter calls a few years ago), most restaurateurs felt talking about technology was about as exciting as reviewing their annual insurance renewal premiums. Now, every operator has learned they exist in the technology business, so they assemble and update a technology plan and assign one person in their organization to own it. 

3.    Guest Behavior: Looking for Clues. Our guests will continue to change. We must have a mechanism to get close to them, listen to them every day, and get that information disseminated throughout the organization. Two examples: On a recent site selection trip, part of the conversation focused on rooftop and office proximity for to-gos and deliveries. Meanwhile, operators are relieved that guests have stuck with them during this Delta variant surge. 

People who understand how to respond to these three trends write themselves a winning lottery ticket in the foreseeable future.

One of the workshop participants told us, “All this reminded me of how you work through tough times, and, oh my god, I’m a teacher, I’m a restaurateur, I’m the leader!” 

Over to you. How do you lead your team to stay on top of these three critical trends that will make your future successful?