Sunday, January 10, 2021

Applebee’s Consumers are in Control


At the intersection of in-store dining and takeout the consumers are clear on one thing, they are in control according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  According to Nielsen 78% of consumers say its important to check availability online and 77% want to order online.  The only thing left is to pick-it up at a restaurant.  69% of consumers utilize the drive-thru at fast food restaurants according to Johnson. 

The restaurant business model has evolved and Applebee’s is going to give customer an option that they prefer a drive-thru. An Applebee’s franchisee is evaluating how the addition of a drive-thru pickup window could impact off-premise service.  The Texas, franchisee is retrofitting a location in Texarkana, Texas, with a drive-thru pickup window that the franchisor hopes will provide insights for future store design and takeout procedures.

Scott Gladstone, vice president of strategy and development at Applebee’s Grill + Bar stated, “We look forward to assessing the performance of this installation, understanding feedback from our guests and operators, as well as any impact to business performance,”. “If positive, we will determine whether pickup windows should be included in our building design packages.”

The franchisee Apple Arkansas, will allow customers to order and pay online or via mobile app, or order by phone and pay in person at the window when they pick up their order. Customers will be given an estimated pickup time after they place their order. The window is slated to open early this year.

Applebee’s, has already developed a robust takeout offering through its Applebee’s To Go service before the pandemic began last year. As we all know by now restrictions on in-store dining in markets around the country beginning last March have led Applebee’s and other operators to place renewed focus on off-premises consumption, however, leading to the creation of new, dedicated order pickup areas and the addition of contactless curbside pickup zones at many restaurants.

At Applebee’s, off-premises sales are now at 60.5% of the chain’s sales mix in the second quarter of 2020, Gladstone said, noting that off-premise sales remained relatively high at 34.6% in the third quarter.

Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food continues to drive top-line sales and bottom-line profits within every sector of retail foodservice today and has since 2015.  This is not a fad caused by the pandemic.  It is a trend, a consumer touchpoint, that has become integrated within today’s culture according to Johnson.

Even David Portalatin, a food industry advisor at NPD stated, “Drive-thru operations are delivering a high ROI during the pandemic, offering convenience, speed, and the comfort of social distance to consumers using them,” said, in a statement. “Drive-thru and other off-premises operations will be a major part of the U.S. restaurant industry’s recovery and future.”

Convenience as a valued touchpoint is about empowering choice at the intersection of dining-in and eating out while dining-in according to Johnson.  In fact, when asked if they wanted to cook dinner from scratch or assemble dinner from fresh meal components 91.1 % of Gen Z chose assemble from Fresh Prepared Meal Components and Millennials 83.6 chose meal components. Are you looking a customer ahead?

For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. For more information visit, FoodserviceSolutions.US or call 1-253-759-7869

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