Restaurant Development & Design

JAN-FEB 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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wage, labor shortages, food safety and healthcare are big concerns," says Stephen Polanski, senior vice president at Buxton, a Fort Worth, Texas-based customer analytics firm that works with a number of leading and emerging restaurant chains. "There's a lot of turmoil. But from my perspective, when it comes to site selection, the biggest issue is that customers are changing the way that they live their lives and how they use restau- rants. They want to order on their app or a kiosk, not talk to a person. And the biggest disruptor as it relates to traditional selec- tion methodology is the growth of takeout and delivery. Just as Amazon and online shopping have impacted the retail space, the restaurant space is adapting to some of these new realities." Get Closer to the Customer Polanski says one big-picture impact of the changing nature of how consumers want to use restaurants is that traditional metrics become less important. In a sense, he says, the landscape is shifting from one that targets highly trafficked, big-draw retail centers (i.e., bringing customers to the restaurant) to one in which the best sites could simply be those in closest proximity to target customers for takeout and delivery (i.e., bringing the restaurant to the customer in the quickest, most efficient manner). "Of course it differs by segment, but the reality from a statistics standpoint is that where customers live and work is becoming a larger percentage of the total site-selection equation," Polanski notes. "Co-tenancy is becoming less relevant. Things like grocery stores, schools and universities still matter for many brands, especially those growing with catering. But in general, the tried-and-true co-tenancy and traffic-pattern metrics are becoming less relevant and the proximity to customers more relevant. Why? Because food quality deteriorates the farther it travels from the point of production." Drilling down to really understand a brand's target customer and how that customer prefers to interact with the brand

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