Back to Basics: The Key to Sustainable Growth in the Restaurant Industry

In this economic and political climate, the restaurant industry is feeling the pressure both from the supply chain and from the government. We have had to endure supply chain disruptions, inflationary pressures and the weakening of the dollar, and legislation that is increasing labor costs at an unsustainable rate.

Restaurants have raised prices in the short-term to offset these increased costs but they are quickly hitting a point where they are beginning to price themselves out of the market. People are only willing to pay so much for a plate of eggs, they get that the restaurants are experiencing higher costs, there is a maximum they can afford or are willing to pay. When you hit that maximum price people will pay the customers only choice is to not eat the plate of eggs or not eat it as often.

From my own perspective, our family can afford to eat out whenever we want, we are very blessed. We are increasingly choosing not to eat out because we see what things cost. I will be honest, I’m anchored to Trump level restaurant prices and when I see how much these same meals cost today, I’m not willing to pay those prices. I can’t tell you how many Door Dash carts I’ve abandoned because I start to build the order I want and then I get sticker shock and just make a sandwich or heat up a can of soup at home.

The Pricing Predicament

A lot of restaurant chains have hit the pricing predicament described above, they found a temporary solution to declining customer counts by raising prices. While this move helped stabilize sales, it came at a cost—some food items became perceived as too expensive, leading to further declines in customer numbers. Now faced with this dilemma, restaurant leaders find themselves at a crossroads with two potential paths: discounting at a loss or refocusing on the fundamentals of excellent service and operations.

The Pitfalls of Discounting

The temptation to implement quick-fix solutions, such as discounting, is understandable. However, this approach has its drawbacks, both in the short and long term. Discounting may temporarily boost customer counts, but it can anger franchisees who bear the brunt of these discounts and prove unsustainable over time. Selling food at a loss is not a viable long-term strategy for any business.

The Smarter Approach: The Big 3 of Restaurant Management

A more sustainable and intelligent strategy involves renewing focus on what can be referred to as the “Big 3” of restaurant management:

  1. Clean and Inviting Restaurants: The physical environment plays a crucial role in shaping the customer experience. Clean, inviting spaces create a positive impression and make customers feel comfortable.
  2. Execution Excellence: Consistency in executing the menu, service, and overall operations is paramount. Customers should know what to expect every time they visit, building trust in your brand.
  3. Timely Execution: Efficient service is key to customer satisfaction. Timely delivery of orders and minimizing wait times contribute significantly to a positive dining experience.

Chick-fil-A: A Model for Success

A prime example of this strategy in action is Chick-fil-A. It’s not a secret recipe that sets them apart; rather, it’s their commitment to clean restaurants and impeccable service. Anyone can replicate their menu items, but few can match the consistently high standards they uphold in their operations.

Building Loyalty Through the Big 3

Focusing on the Big 3 not only justifies the higher prices customers are paying but also fosters loyalty and long-term sustainable sales growth. It’s an investment in the customer experience that goes beyond mere transactions.

The Challenge and the Opportunity

Returning to the basics is undoubtedly a more challenging endeavor than resorting to discounting. It requires a commitment to excellence, attention to detail, and a dedication to providing value to customers beyond just the products on the menu.

The OpsAnalitica Platform: A Tool for Success

For restaurant CEOs looking to streamline their operations and focus on the Big 3, the OpsAnalitica Platform offers a comprehensive solution. This tool facilitates daily operations management from the store level through the field teams, ensuring a consistent and efficient execution of the core principles that drive customer satisfaction.

In conclusion, the restaurant industry faces a choice between short-term fixes and long-term sustainability. While discounting may seem like the easy way out, the real path to success lies in embracing the basics of clean, well-executed, and timely service. As the industry watches which approach prevails, the smart money is on those who invest in the Big 3 and build a foundation for lasting success.

If you would like to see how OpsAnalitica can help you manage the Big 3 within your chain, please click on the link to schedule a demo: Https://

Tommy Yionoulis

I've been in the restaurant industry for most of my adult life. I have a BSBA from University of Denver Hotel Restaurant school and an MBA from the same. When I wasn't working in restaurants I was either doing stand-up comedy, for 10 years, or large enterprise software consulting. I'm currently the Managing Director of OpsAnalitica and our Inspector platform was originally conceived when I worked for one of the largest sandwich franchisors in the country. You can reach out to me through LinkedIn.

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