Service: Your Competitive Edge in Foodservice
In a recent article from Jillian Kramer writing for food & wine.com ( March 23, 2018) talks about the dynamic changes coming to the grocery and food service business. "Following last years Amazon purchase of Whole Foods, Fast Company Magazine points out, 'that merger has forced many companies to reevaluate their business strategies, especially when it comes to e-commerce. Albertson’s, Publix, and Stop & Shop have all partnered with Instacart to offer online grocery shopping to patrons, while Walmart has teamed up with Google Home to allow its shoppers to order voice-activated home shopping to compete with Amazon’s Alexa'."
The Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen that show some 70 percent of grocery shoppers will buy their groceries online within the next the five to seven years. This move toward convenience, delivery, and choice affects not only the grocery business but food service in a huge way. If you have any food service retail, you need to be planning on these changes affecting your customer base in the new 5-10 years.
What does this mean for restaurateurs, deli's, or similar retail food outlets? Unless you're in the small niche of 'fine-dining', which you most likely have spent years perfecting, you are probably in the casual & family sector of food service. Besides creating basic, sound food that meets your local guest needs, 'service' will be your primary selling point. Good food and great service, you've got an excellent chance to begin a long relationship with that individual or group.
Service is the one element you can influence on a daily basis. Service impacts every perception in the guest's mind as to the overall dining experience. You offer good food, but service is lacking? Guests may never return for a second visit. If service is lacking on a second visit- you've probably lost them forever. Good food and great service, you've got an excellent chance to begin a long relationship with that individual or group. Training of servers in table-side etiquette, knowledge of the menu and ingredients, as well as maintaining a guest-driven attitude will mean your first-time guest is treated with respect and is handled with an approach to have them leave wanting to come back again. It implies staffing at a higher level of craft that may have been acceptable in the past. Service becomes a driving force in creating the sense of hospitality people wish to experience in going 'out-for-dinner'.
Food service is no longer just about table-side service. It is now critical to offer your menu as an alternative to the grocery store, fast food, or delivery services. To Execute this service means creating the opportunity for a guest to order for pick-up either by way of a smooth 'walk-in system' for quick pick-up in store or a drive up window. It also means having pre-packed full dinners available at an entryway or retail designated area so they can come in at a moments notice and get a meal for the family they can take and reheat at home. Two examples of this concept, in West Coast groceries; Safeway and Raley's. They have approximately 200- 300 sq foot areas dedicated to hot foods to go or eat on site in another small cafe type seating.
I also addressed this in more detail in my article from the Fall of 2017: "Amazon/Whole Foods, this changes everything in foodservice". . .