Restaurants have faced a host of challenges over the past two years. Pivots have become the new norm. Enhanced safety practices, contact-free interactions, and increasing digitalization are here to stay–and continue to evolve to address still-uncertain conditions. As many merchants have learned the hard and fast way, the future is tough to predict.
But forecasting food-service trends for 2022 means leaning on hard data and lessons learned throughout the previous year. Dining rooms are open, delivery volume remains high across different types of food service, and staffing and supply shortages continue.
Using data from the more than 7,500 restaurant partners using its products, BentoBox analyzed key patterns from 2021 and insights for 2022. Here are five food service trends to watch in the upcoming year, along with tips for staying ahead of the curve.
Connecting with customers online has become more important than ever–during the pandemic. Now that the move into digitization has accelerated even more, customers carry high expectations for how clearly and efficiently they can connect with a merchant online.
The best and most profitable way to connect is through a website that allows for direct, easy, and fast online ordering with delivery or curbside pickup (and that’s not going anywhere, either). BentoBox specializes in web design plus marketing and ordering tools that allow restaurants to take back relationship ownership and revenue from third-party apps.
In the last 12 months, BentoBox restaurants saved an eye-popping $38.5 million that would have otherwise gone to third-party apps. That’s a game-changing amount of reclaimed profit for those restaurants who develop a direct connection with customers.
Cultivating and rewarding loyalty is also a major value enhancer of an attractive website. Clover Rewards can promote and run a loyalty program, alert customers directly or on social media of special promotions, and engage repeat customers to drive even more business.
How restaurants make use of data from online customer relationships is going to be key to future innovation, according to the industry survey by BentoBox.
“If you think of a restaurant tech stack as the human body, data is like the blood. A system with poor circulation is therefore limited.” Shared by an unnamed restaurant operator with Joe Guszkowski of Restaurant Business, this comment captures the industry’s growing embrace of data-driven solutions.
Further, in 2022 and beyond, loyalty will continue to be a major revenue driver. And, more direct engagement with customer data can spell more opportunity.
By summer 2021, 75% of restaurants called hiring and retaining employees their top challenge. And, merchants can count on staffing to be a persistent issue this year and beyond. With turnover remaining high and qualified candidates fielding multiple options, recruiting expenses should be considered a solid business investment.
That includes making your restaurant an attractive workplace with fair and flexible hours and pay, trusted safety protocol, and clear commitment to inclusion, diversity, and employee
wellness. Homebase Schedule and Time Clock apps allow employees to message each other (and you) directly about covering shifts and easily track their hours. Payroll can also be integrated across the apps to ensure timely compensation.
Responding quickly to top candidates — within three hours of receiving an application, according to experts — will also set your restaurant ahead of competitors. The Homebase Hiring app can also help you create and post a job listing across multiple sites and keep candidates organized.
Finding new efficiencies became essential at the start of the pandemic–more and more restaurants are realizing that’s good business, however you slice it. Automation of tasks and workflows, like allowing dine-in customers to order directly using a QR code, for example, can make up for staffing shortages, and allow for less overworked and better paid employees.
Businesses have found that technology like Clover, which offers a generous library of integrated apps, has incredible benefits to efficiency and productivity, especially when they utilize multiple capabilities. Restaurant365 can track and analyze inventory with attention to supply shortages, while Clover Reporting can help merchants stay ahead of what’s selling.
Consumers have come to expect fast and convenient door-to-door service of everything–from groceries to workout equipment. Those expectations are growing even more refined. So restaurants offering delivery must innovate to distinguish themselves, according to the BentoBox survey. A full-service restaurant adding a direct and convenient delivery option, for example, won’t be enough to get a leg up on competitors.
Off-site presentation, or how to make a fine-dining experience fully portable, may become an area of innovation for some, while super-rapid delivery (in the vein of 15-minute grocery apps) may also characterize the race.
The good news is creating a website that attracts and engages customers is now even easier with Clover. Through the BentoBox integration with Clover® from Fiserv, BentoBox connects your online and on-premise experiences for a single, modern restaurant experience–an experience designed to help you stay ahead of trends in 2022 and beyond.
To learn more about how Clover can help you run your restaurant faster and easier, contact a Business Consultant today.