Blogger Steve Ashmore discovers that the fast food model that seems to be working best right now is one that’s as old as the hills.
I’ve spoken on the subject before, but if you’ll bear with me I think a comparison is in order. Fast foods aren’t the healthiest fare, but they are popular enough that you can find several on any given major thoroughfare. Depending on the nature of the surrounding businesses, sometimes they line up side by side.
Their menus vary, marginally, but they all serve something quick, convenient, and for the most part inexpensive. So it would seem that the best way to turn a profit would be to get more customers than the competitors. But there seems to be some varying theories on how this can best be accomplished.
There are several that are conducting business as usual. You walk in and proceed to the counter where a giant menu is prominently displayed. Cashiers take your order and serve it on a tray or in a bag moments later. There is also the drive-thru option for those in a particular hurry. This model has worked for years and continues to be a reasonably sound business practice with little complaining from those who frequent these restaurants. Business is steady and shows no sign of declining from what I’ve seen.
The new norm is to have customers use a kiosk to place their own orders. Tap the giant screen and pay at the kiosk or take your ticket to pay the cashier. You can skip the kiosk and do it the old-fashioned way, which clogs this plan with two types of consumers. If you’re dining in, a runner brings your order. To-go orders are still delivered at the counter. This seems to be an effort to reduce employee costs, but for my part I’ve seen many a dissatisfied patron. The plan doesn’t promote human contact and it seems to annoy those who are used to having someone listen to their requests.
My favorite, though, is one that has brought back traditional service with an extra helping courtesy. You know the one. They are busy enough to need several registers, each employee greets you like a celebrity, and "my pleasure" ends every transaction. This eatery stays busy enough that they are expanding their seating and parking as well as doubling their drive-thru.
Sure it’s a different fare and it’s more expensive than most. None the less the parking lot and tables are mostly filled, and the only thing slowing down their business is the complete remodeling they’re currently undergoing.
Seems to me that if they want to keep their share of customers, the other diners should take note.
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