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7 forehead-slapping moments for restaurant execs

rlc general session

The experts who took the stage during the first two days of the Restaurant Leadership Conference shared more than a few surprising assessments of the restaurant industry and its near-term prospects. The notes taken by the chain executives in attendance likely included these jolting corrections to their world views.

  1. Forty percent of consumers would rather place a restaurant order online than give it to a human, according to a new study from Deloitte.
     
  2. The same report, highlighted in a breakout at the RLC, also revealed that astute use of ordering technology could add between $2 and $4 to quick-service tabs and between $8 and $12 to full-service checks. “That’s real money,” said Deloitte Consulting Senior Manager Madhav Mullapudi.
     
  3. But there’s a considerable gap between customer demand and the availability of restaurant technology. For instance, “guests are actually looking for loyalty programs,” said Mullapudi. “And very few in the industry are offering loyalty programs that can actually reach these customers.”
     
  4. Online ordering doesn’t necessarily mean using an app, said Mullapudi. Websites are still an important means of engaging guests. If you don’t have one, or it’s not been tweaked for search-engine optimization, patrons will turn to third-party websites like Yelp to learn about your restaurant and how to order remotely, said he warned.
     
  5. An app is a one-shot proposition, Mullapudi continued. If it bombs in initial trials, guests will drop it.
     
  6. Digital ordering has an overlooked benefit on costs, the team from Deloitte noted. They cited a 3 percent to 5 percent savings on food costs, a benefit of being able to peg demand and product usage more precisely.
     
  7. Restaurant valuations soared in 2015 and the early part of 2016, revealed Todd Jones, senior managing director of brand management for GE Capital. Companies in general were selling for 10 times their earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization, and “restaurant transactions were consistent with that,” said Jones. That compares with the prior threshold of 8.5 times EBITDA, he explained.

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