Restaurant Development & Design

JUL-AUG 2018

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 5 1 Indeed, most companies of any size have long used at least some aspects of big data to drive functions such as site se- lection, marketing and menu development. And as the National Restaurant Associa- tion points out in a guide titled "Big Data and Restaurants: Something to Chew On," big data isn't really all that big anymore. Thanks to massive gains in computing power, storage space and new software, restaurants of all sizes can harness their data and uncover useful information from their POS, marketing, accounting, inven- tory and scheduling systems. The upshot: Even small brands can benefit from the same type of predictive analytics and business insights that the mega chains like Starbucks, McDonald's and Subway use. And all brands can gain insights on the growing importance of data collection and analytics by studying what the big guys are doing with it. Big Data Drives Chains Big data plays a big role in design-related decision making at Subway. Patrick Rose, senior manager of equipment and decor, notes, "Research is at the heart of our company; it informs our menu, design, technology and more. Our decisions are informed by facts and intelligence with specific insights. We collect global data to understand, for example, how we should design our restaurants to deliver an exceptional customer experience and operate efficiently for our franchisees." Subway recently worked with FRCH to develop its new Fresh Forward design prototype. Rose says every aspect of the design, from the colors of the walls to the seating plan, is tied to data insights and analytics. A holistic approach incorporating both quantitative data and qualitative research was applied. "When developing our research to test the Fresh Forward design, we asked questions such as, 'Do guests come in more often? Were they likely to stay and eat or did they prefer the on-the-go experience? What did they notice about the design?' If guests didn't notice a particular design element or it didn't improve operations, we took it out. These types of insights informed our design decisions, including how our fresh vegetables are displayed, optimal seating layouts for different locations, and the inclusion of kiosks, which we are testing. We'll continue to analyze these types of data and trends," says Rose. Rose adds that Subway is also looking at new technologies to sup- port its data gathering and analytics efforts. "One of the newest tools we're beginning to use in our research is eye-tracking technology," he says. "It uses special glasses to understand the journey guests take in-restaurant and how all touch points interact." Next-gen emerging brands, too, are finding new ways to make more and better data part of their development and design efforts. When Cracker Barrel set out to create new biscuit-focused fast-casual concept Holler & Dash as a stand-alone brand, it strategically targeted Millennials and younger age groups. Now with seven units in the Southeast, the chain con- ducted heavy front-end research on which to build the brand, says Mike Chissler, chief operating officer. He adds that each of its current units serves as something of an alpha test site for ongoing data collec- tion and brand refinement. "When we first started, we worked with a couple of different companies to pull a lot of data for us on who this Millennial consumer is, what they value, what their dining habits are and how they look at brands," Chissler says. "That type of data influenced everything from the types of buildings we look for to the interior environment, culinary ap- proach and service style. It was critical to framing up who this brand is and what

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