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Lessons from a peace summit

The competition between foodservice channels is escalating quickly, but that didn’t stop restaurateurs from meeting with the enemy. In June, the combatants put down their spatulas for a peace summit to discuss crossover success strategies. Called FARE, the event drew about 700 managers and menu planners from every channel of grab-and-go foodservice, from quick-service and  fast-casual restaurants to convenience stores to hospital and college foodservice concepts. Here are some lessons from the truce:

Don’t just say ‘fresh,’ show it

The word no longer carries any meaning, said Wade Hanson of research firm Technomic. The challenge operators face is to show what “fresh” means to their business.

Recalculate customers’ lifetime value

Celebrity chef Robert Irvine pegged the value of a lost customer at $6,800. But its more than that: Their social reach can contribute far more to the top line than what’d they’d spend themselves.

Amid wage fights, tablets help do more with less

With several states hiking the minimum wage, Famous Dave’s intends to temper the impact by replacing servers’ order pads with handheld tablets. Orders are wirelessly relayed to the kitchen, sparing the waitstaff considerable footsteps, thus increasing the number of tables they can handle and speeding table turns.

Avoid overstimulation

Offering customers too many options can backfire. If the array grows too broad for patrons to process, they’ll revert to the tried-and-true choices, defeating the purpose of a new menu item or line extension. 

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