Restaurant owners are no strangers to change. The restaurant industry faces constant changes and challenges, especially during and following the COVID-19 global pandemic. While restaurant trends don’t always affect larger restaurants, it’s more important for smaller businesses to know how to connect with customers and retain their loyalty. Here are five restaurant trends you should know going into 2022.
1. The Use of QR Codes Has Exploded
The use of QR codes in restaurants exploded during the pandemic, and the demand for digital menus isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. While a whopping 79 percent of guests still prefer physical menus and the opportunity to talk with their server, many guests have begun to embrace the use of QR codes in restaurants. In fact, the use of QR code downloads has increased by 750 percent over the last two years.
QR codes provide guests with many benefits, including the ability to order and pay for their meals using their smartphones easily. This can be especially important to individuals that suffer from social anxiety. From a restaurant’s perspective, it doesn’t take much to offer this additional service, and it’s estimated that the use of digital menus can increase sales by up to $16,000.
2. Delivery and Carryout Options
In America, delivery and carryout options became necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic, but experts say that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Today, 68 percent of customers state that they’re more likely to use takeout and delivery services than they were before the pandemic, and 53 percent believe that these services are essential. So while many restaurants have already begun offering delivery services in-house or through third parties like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats, it’s become more essential for establishments to provide these services to attract and retain customers.
3. The Importance of Online Marketing
Competition between restaurants and local businesses is fierce now more than ever. As a result, online promotions, social media marketing, and organic SEO content have become a cornerstone to attracting new customers. Statistics show that up to 90 percent of customers research a restaurant online before visiting. Additionally, 92 percent of customers read a restaurant’s reviews, and 33 percent pass on a restaurant with less than a 4-star rating. It’s also estimated that improving customer feedback and reviews by half a star can boost a restaurant’s revenues by 5 to 9 percent.
4. Recycling in Restaurants is Becoming More Prevalent
Recycling in restaurants has become more widespread. Around 65 percent of restaurants now have a recycling program in place, and up to 60 percent of diners say they prefer restaurants that recycle. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, these trends are unlikely to go away anytime soon as over 90 percent of Americans have expressed a desire to protect the environment. Fortunately, restaurants are finding that many recycling programs are cost-effective and may even save restaurants in other expenses, such as garbage pick-ups and other waste management services.
5. Smaller Menus Are Yielding More Sales
According to a recent Harvard Business study, customers currently prefer smaller menus over larger ones. But why is that? A prominent Columbia University study showed that people prefer fewer choices because fewer choices mean it’s easier to make a decision. Smaller menus are also a simple way for restaurants to cut costs and create a more efficient kitchen. Some restaurants have already increased profits by reducing the size of their menus, including LongHorn Steakhouse, Chipotle, and Five Guys. The results? Establishments like LongHorn Steakhouse saw a 3.8 percent revenue increase in one quarter alone.
The Bottom Line
Understanding current restaurant trends can help owners increase their revenue, connect with more new customers, and increase brand awareness and customer loyalty. These trends can influence how restaurants choose to do business, and it’s essential to be aware of these trends going into the new year.