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3 Key Takeaways from the Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit

Cutting-edge and fast-growing chain restaurants must continually innovate in order to stay competitive, whether that be by optimizing their menu items/service offerings, gaining market share, or transforming their brand’s presence in the market. Often, this desire for more is exactly what’s needed to propel new technologies, spark new menu item ideas, and create impactful training programs to drive scalable success.

The Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit

The pandemic has had long-lasting effects on the restaurant industry, impeding success for many. In an effort to support the restaurant industry, the annual Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit brings together executives from leading brands to share their recipes for success in building their companies and sourcing techniques to tackle challenging problems.

GroundTruth at the Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit

This past summer, GroundTruth attended the most recent 2021 Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit to offer industry leaders high-impact advertising solutions to recover from pandemic declines and help get patrons back in their doors.

Working with restaurant clients isn’t new to the GroundTruth team. Throughout the throes of the pandemic, GroundTruth continues to work with restaurants of all types from Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) and Fast Casual establishments to Fine Dining venues. Our past clients include brands such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Outback Steakhouse. Our approach to the market helps our clients pivot in real-time to achieve their goals, whether those be to drive physical store visits, increase sales, steal market share, or others.

While supporting restaurants has long been our bread and butter, this space is ever-changing and our strategies track to keep pace with the industry status quo. This past summit reinforced that there are some unique challenges (and solutions!) present in the market. Let’s take a look and learn about how we can best approach them.

3 Key Takeaways from the Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit

#1: Labor Shortages Impede Restaurant Operations

Labor Shortages Impede Restaurant Operations

Restaurants of all sizes have experienced staffing issues as the economy has entered post-pandemic recovery mode. And the disparity shows. According to Fast Casual, “data tells us that the median limited-service chain ran its stores with nearly one less employee this May [2021] than in May 2019.”

Along similar lines, QSR Magazine states that 28% of restaurant operators believe it will be 7 to 12 months before staffing returns to normal.

This presents a challenge for all restaurant brands that are not only trying to drive diners to their locations during a global pandemic that has already weakened their bottom line, but now need to split their focus to attract qualified candidates to help support their operations.

Solution: Localized Digital Campaigns

A solution to this conundrum can be seen in how brands leverage localized digital campaigns in their hiring efforts. Increased awareness of open jobs with location-based targeting across all screens, from mobile to desktop to CTV can get potential applicants engaged and interested in applying to your company. Companies can save marketing dollars by strategically recruiting with solutions like Proximity Targeting, Custom Audience Targeting, or Neighborhood Targeting within relevant markets.

Consumers Need More Dining Options than Ever

#2: Restaurants Need to Shift to Accommodate Off-Premise Dining

“Going out to a restaurant” just doesn’t mean the same as it used to. Thankfully, there are so many ways to accommodate off-premise restaurant dining, a practice that’s become the norm for many brands.

Brands that offer drive thru and contactless pickup have truly come out on top as major industry differentiators. In fact, the National Restaurant News states 43% of consumers said drive-thru is the most preferred method for ordering restaurant food during the pandemic. Takeout and curbside pickup is preferred by 33%.

Throughout the ambiguity of the pandemic, restaurants that pivoted to curbside pickup managed to maintain operations compared to those that did not. This theme hasn’t changed as consumers continue to prioritize safety and convenience which are inherent in off-premise dining.

Solution: Dynamic QSR Ads

Digital media provides brands more flexibility in creating dynamic ads. With GroundTruth media, you can serve specific messages or creatives to targeted audiences based on their past behaviors. For example, if you want to reach a QSR Diner Behavioral Audience to let them know that a new location with a drive-thru has opened up near them, GroundTruth can use our Audience and Proximity Targeting solutions to help hone in on a particular subset of diners. Alternatively, we have the Cost-Per-Visit advertising platform that only requests payment when an actual visit occurs.

#3: Consumers Need More Dining Options than Ever

Restaurants Need to Shift to Accommodate Off-Premise Dining

Throughout this past year and at present, it’s clear that it’s important for customers to have a variety of options to meet their daily needs for ordering, acquiring, and enjoying their meals safely. Beyond that, restaurateurs are looking to their favorite meal purveyors for fast service, convenience, and Covid-19 safety regulations.

From setting up in-app order ahead capabilities, to making sure restaurant sit-down locations are Covid-compliant, restaurants have been accelerating their digitization and hygiene efforts in order to keep up with demand and maintain relationships with their patrons.

When it comes to placing a restaurant order, “70% of respondents prefer to place their order through a mobile app or website, with the restaurant mobile app being the most preferred channel [32%] followed by the restaurant website [26%].”

Solution: Geofencing Restaurant Locations

GroundTruth’s BlueprintTM, our proprietary mapping technology, geofences or outlines curbside pickup areas for restaurant locations to create and identify custom audiences who enjoy contactless pickup options. This technology helps brands build timely connections with consumers looking for convenience and safety in their food pickup.

Want More Insights into the Restaurant Industry?

The Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit is a great place to discuss the direction national restaurants must go in in order to be successful during an ambiguous time. Although there are some challenges in the market at-present, we’re confident that our solutions can help brands get back to hiring, targeting patrons, and getting visitors back in their doors. We can’t wait to learn more at next year’s Restaurant and Franchising Innovation Summit. Until then! Register here.

Jessi Hamilton
Account Executive, National Sales East