Navigating Restaurant Operations in a Post-COVID Landscape
Those who work in restaurant operations are probably the most involved individuals in a restaurant’s overall success. Restaurant operations involve any moving parts and pieces of the daily management of a restaurant.
Thus, restaurant operations are one of the areas of the restaurant industry that has been most affected by the hardships posed since the onset of COVID-19, which is why keeping up with the current trends is so important.
Get Insights into Industry Changes with BBI
It is our job at BBI to constantly monitor the shifts and changes taking place within various parts of the restaurant industry, restaurant operations included.
Thus, we have put together a list of general trends to reflect the current state of restaurant operations thanks to the insights gathered from our various restaurant intelligence tools. So without further adieu, here are six of the restaurant operations trends we’ve seen in the past few months.
What are the Latest Trends in Restaurant Operations?
Increased Average Check Size
Restaurant operations across the board have seen an increase in check size, which means that on average, restaurant customers are spending more money per trip.
This extra spending per check has a lot to do with restaurants increasing their prices due to supply chain challenges and the general economic hardships brought on by COVID-19. BBI’s data is still showing that these high prices are affecting customer’s average checks.
BBI has been able to track this trend using our Financial Intelligence tool, which monitors metrics like sales, traffic, sales per labor hour, dine-in, to-go, restaurant catering, and more. Our tool helps restaurants to know whether or not what they experience in trends is because of the industry as a whole, or just the way their restaurant is handling things.
Drops in Traffic
Our data is still showing a general drop in traffic that began during COVID and hasn’t let up all of the way. Although traffic has increased since the beginning of the pandemic, we are still not at normal traffic levels.
This, alongside the increase in average check size, is concerning in that the higher average check size could be contributing to the drop in traffic, as customers are seeing eating at restaurants as not worth the cost it now has become.
Focuses on Specialty Items and Promotions
To combat the drops in traffic and sentiment surrounding the value of eating at restaurants, restaurant operators have and should continue to focus on creating an experience that will bring value to customers, even with the increase in average check.
We have seen this manifest in restaurant operations with branches featuring specialty menu items and promotions in the hopes that it will bring more diners in the door. For more on how to implement incentives in your restaurants, click here.
Low Staffing Levels
This restaurant operations trend probably comes as no surprise to anyone: The staffing levels in restaurants, both full-service and limited-service, are lower than they were pre-COVID. We have seen an additional restaurant operations trend of higher wages across the board for all restaurants to act as an incentive for more people to work in the industry.
Limited-service restaurant brands are attempting to fill this gap in service workers by hiring more individuals to fill managerial positions, whereas full-service restaurants are operating with lower staffing levels for both hourly and management positions.
BBI can track staffing levels using our Workforce Intelligence tool, which reveals data on your turnover and staffing, as well as reports on how competitive your salary and wage offerings are.
Flipped Restaurant Layouts
Another current trend in restaurant operations is adopting a flipped square footage restaurant layout. It is becoming more common to allocate more space in a restaurant to the kitchen rather than the seating area.
This change in restaurant layout has occurred to meet the rise in the popularity of to-go orders. Since fewer customers are sitting down and ordering food, altering the restaurant layout to match this change is apropos.
Restaurants have also begun to hire more off-premise/to-go staff members to meet this shift in consumer habits.
Less Fussy Fine Dining
This trend in restaurant operations speaks to a shift of sentiment of new generations. While high-end dining isn’t going away completely, it will be less formal going forward.
Fine dining and upscale casual establishments have seen the most sales growth in the last month out of all of the segments because younger diners want to go to more casual but still high-quality establishments. These would be establishments that have a more relaxed dress code and are more focused on crafting a top-notch guest experience.
Individuals concerned with restaurant operations need insights into a combination of revenue paradigms, guest sentiment, and workforce trends. BBI’s Financial Intelligence, Guest Intelligence, and Workforce Intelligence tools respectively reveal the current trends that are occurring with restaurant operations.
Interested in getting a leg up on your competitors? Learn more about the difference that our intelligence tools can make here.