By Mike Burris, CEO, Aeris POS Systems
As an industry segment, Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) recognized decades ago the increase in demand to feed people on the go. They understood that busy people who have a need for quality food, prepared quickly, would be a critical segment of the food service market. Improvements in ordering, preparation, and cooking have brought the consumer an expectation that quality meals can be prepared to their specification without waiting.
The pioneers of QSR realized that people were spending more and more time in their cars and began adding drive-thru lanes. Improvements to in-car services have evolved dramatically. On average, drive-thru sales account for 60% of the sales in an average Quick Service Restaurant.
They must be doing something right. According to the National Restaurant Association, the QSR market will grow another 4.9% in 2013, to just over $188 billion.
So, if innovation has always driven the QSR market, how does this evolution continue? What’s next?
It is time to move QSR to the next generation of customer service. Self-order kiosks are everywhere. Big box stores, banks, grocery stores, even airports, have paved the way for consumers to embrace the concept of completing transactions without human intervention. At the very least, we are in the 2nd generation of selfsufficient consumers. It is not a stretch to apply these same principals to Quick Service Restaurants.
QSRs can now increase customer service while cutting labor dollars by allowing customers to place their own orders, both at the inside counter and the drivethru. Self-order POS (point of sale) stations at the inside counter allow a single employee to effectively assist several lines of customers with their food orders. At the drive-thru, self-order kiosks give customers the chance to quickly place and confirm their own orders with no assistance from in-store personnel.
High tech does not necessarily translate to high cost. For little more than the cost of a standard counter service POS terminal, Quick Service Restaurants can give customers the option of placing their own order.
At the drive-thru, self-order not only acts as the customer’s order platform, it is by default an enhanced Order Confirmation screen. Since customers place their own orders, common mistakes can be kept to a minimum. Menu boards may not be needed. The right self-order software can allow customers to make choices without looking beyond the touchscreen in front of them.
One other trend seems to point the way for self-order POS. That is the continued increase in QSR payments made by credit or debit cards. For the past decade, the purchases made in QSR by credit/debit have increased each year. It does not appear to be a trend that will change anytime soon. Research from the National Restaurant Association shows that 75% of the customers indicated they are likely to make QSR purchases with credit or debit cards and may go elsewhere if these options are not available to them.
Self-Order and Self-Pay go together perfectly. Self- Order customers who also Self-Pay allow Quick Service Restaurants to focus on higher levels of customer service while cutting, or refocusing labor.
Innovation is out there. It is time for QSR restaurants to embrace it, just as their customers have done.