One of the hottest fast food trends this year has been the resurgence of quick-service breakfast. Many fast food companies have watched the successful launch of Taco Bell’s breakfast and McDonald’s all-day breakfast menu and wondered if they, too, might be able to get in on the bonanza.
But to capitalize on breakfast, a company must first master the basics that have made grab-and-go morning bites so attractive to the modern consumer. Today, let’s take a look at the 3 must-haves for any company that wants to succeed in the competitive AM daypart.
You’ve skipped breakfast for years. Why? Late for the school bus. Late for your morning commute. No time to pour and eat a bowl of cereal. No time to cook up some eggs and bacon. Rush, rush, rush.
So what makes you any different from your company’s core consumers? For breakfast to be a feasible part of most adults’ (particularly, on-the-go young adults) schedules, it has to be super quick to buy and uncomplicated to eat.
Cereal, complicated? Sure is — if you’re driving or walking somewhere.
That’s why handheld, no mess items that require no silverware are so popular. Pick ‘em up, chomp ‘em down and move on to your next destination. And speed of service is an area in which fast food restaurants, by their very nature, enjoy a decided advantage over their morning competitors. Think about it. Small, grab-and-go, ready-to-eat items are increasingly popular at grocery stores and gas station convenience stores, right?
But what does the consumer have to do to get them? That’s right — park the car, get out, go in, find and buy them.
QSR customers have no such hassle. And if the decision is between a pack of donuts you have to go through a full-on docking procedure to buy or a breakfast burrito that someone can hand you through your open car window… well, the winner here should be obvious.
2. Order Accuracy
This is a potential pitfall for the QSR industry. Always has been.
Workers are moving fast and may try to cut corners to speed service. Relatively low wages and high turnover rates in the industry result in a number of employees who are entry-level or otherwise unskilled, so attention to detail, operational prowess and product knowledge are challenges.
On the other side of the window, customers can be impatient and demanding. They might be distracted thinking about their commutes and make mistakes in ordering. They’re more often than not paying with credit cards — now, inconveniently slow chip-based cards — instead of cash, slowing down your queues.
All that results in a high-pressure, sometimes chaotic environment with multiple fail points: at the order station, at the grill, at expo, at the payment and delivery windows.
QSR franchises that want to succeed in the breakfast market need not only to pay close attention to consumers’ taste preferences, but to their business practices as well. The most successful fast food franchises today are the ones using staff training, best-practice management and the retention and continued development of experienced workers to safeguard order accuracy and ensure customer loyalty.
Speed’s first cousin, convenience, is the last of the must-haves in the breakfast market.
Your restaurant isn’t located on highly-traveled thoroughfare? You just lost out to someone’s that is. Traffic patterns at morning rush make your drive-thru difficult to turn into or out of? Then your prospective customers are moving on to a more convenient location along their commute paths. Backups in the drive-thru every morning? For every car you serve, you’re losing two or three more.
Consumers would rather go hungry than be late to work. You have to keep things moving on the grill and in the order line (see #1) and you have to get it right the first time, every time (see #2). Moreover, before you build a new outlet, sign a new lease or enter a new market, make sure you do your homework on consumer patterns in the area.
Breakfast can be a lucrative daypart for the QSR industry.
Just make sure that your company has mastered the basics before it moves into the daypart. A chaotic launch is a disastrous launch — one that could strip you of loyal customers and discourage new ones from trying your restaurants.