Thursday, January 7, 2021

5 Clues to Stop Restaurant Sector Customer Traffic Declines


Just in case it slipped your mine, the restaurant sector continues to bleed customers.  In case you don’t understand the consequence of capitulating year over year same store customer counts for eight years in a row; it’s not a good thing according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

2020 was another bad year for the restaurant sector if customer counts are your measuring stick down as customer counts were down 20.9% year over year. The simple fact is consumers food consumption patterns have evolved and many restaurant menu’s look more like a restaurant of the 1980’s, 1990’s, or 2005.  That my friends, that is a long way from what a fresh food restaurant will look like five years from now according to Johnson.  Something has to change. It is time to look a customer ahead. 

The pandemic will end, but it will be the end of your restaurant brand?  If you plan on going back repositioning and brand messaging the ilk of what your brand was three years ago, five years ago, or even 8 years ago.  You are heading in the wrong direction. 

If the restaurant industry leadership of today is comprised of the ‘unwilling to evolve’ as they continue to follow the old CEO adage / first rule of a new CEO ‘do no harm’.  That simply has not worked and will not work moving forward. There is a clear and present danger for many legacy chain restaurant brands.  That danger is an increasing lack of customer relevance according to Johnson.

According to the latest Black Box Intelligence index restaurant sector customer counts for 2020 were down 20.9% year over year.  That is on top of 8 years of negative sector customer count declines.  Just stop and think about that.  Here are our 5 Clues to evolve success:

1.       Look A Customer Ahead

2.       Interactive and Participatory Food Marketing

3.       Don’t let the table wobble. Be prepared to open your dining room

4.       Integrate alcohol in meal planning

5.       Technology is your Drive-Thru

Back in the day the team at Foodservice Solutions® was first to identify, quantify, and qualify The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome, and few chain restaurants were willing to evolve.  The rest hunkered down and practiced brand protectionism.  Where are they now? Look at this list of chain restaurant closures for this year alone. Then there are the chains that filed bankruptcy. Here is a link to the list of 25 chains and franchise groups that did filed in 2020 alone.

Battle for Share of Stomach

If success leaves clues and it does restaurant brands that embrace change, evolve with consumer relevant touchpoint, will do well moving forward.  If not, many will continue to capitulate customer traffic, lose sales, and close stores.  Are you driving top line sales, bottom line profits, and building customer counts?

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Johnson, or

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