FOOD & BEVERAGE FRANCHISES EAT, DRINK & BE TECH SAVVY

Sinead Horan-Webb, Business Franchise Magazine

Technology is increasingly shaping our lives. Even simple traditions - like going out for a meal - now involve the digital world. Online ordering, cashless payments and virtual brands are now commonplace in venues across the country.

From restaurants, bars and cafés to bakeries, foodcourts and food trucks, food and beverage franchisors are mastering the art of service with a virtual smile; offering customers what has essentially always been a physical dine-in experience with increasingly contactless, yet connected, capabilities.

The evolution of digital service

Food franchisors getting savvy with technology and digital trends is nothing new. Many brands saw the influence smartphones, social media and mobile apps had on younger demographics and understood the future of their business depended on adapting. Increasingly, older generations began embracing elements of these trends, such as the convenience of making cashless payments or making reservations online.

The use of digital technologies in food and beverage outlets is now no longer an outlier trend. According to a 2017 report1, 95 percent of restaurant owners agreed that technology improved business efficiency and 81 percent of diners said they used a restaurant’s website to place an order online.

Some businesses were reluctant to change, however, most could see the value in having a few digital technologies to support their business - a website, a social media account, a POS machine for debit and credit card transactions - the basics, they realised, were now essential.

And then, in 2020, the pandemic cinched the deal. Covid-19 forced the hands of those lagging behind. Some hoped the crisis would soon pass and business would return to ‘normal’. Others saw the writing on the wall and leaped into action, gathering their best marketing, IT and digital engagement minds together to find ways forward.

Here’s just a glimpse at some of the digital technologies that are now commonplace among food and beverage franchise brands across Australia:

  • Online ordering and reservations - It’s hard to imagine a time when you couldn’t order anything you wanted to eat or drink within a few taps on your phone. Third-party food delivery apps like UberEats, MenuLog and Deliveroo have opened up the at-home dining experience, allowing a host of restaurants to capitalise on the trend. Moving ahead, many smaller chain restaurants are following the lead of larger fast-food chains by developing their own integrated online ordering apps.
  • Contactless payments - while POS systems using EFTPOS have become the norm, more savvy establishments are offering payment by a variety of contactless methods, like smartphones and smartwatches. Contactless payment methods are more hygienic than handling cash and also offer greater convenience for customers who prefer instant, paperless transactions. For restaurant owners, digital payments are also more efficient from a cash flow point of view. It’s estimated that cashless payments will triple from $2 trillion to $6 trillion worldwide by 20242.
  • QR Codes - what was once the domain of special marketing offers, QR Codes have become essential track-and-trace tools for businesses managing the demands of Covid-19 tracing policies. However, the QR Code is also a safe and convenient tool for restaurants offering menu table service. Customers can pick and choose their choices through the app without attracting the attention of wait staff, allowing the service delivery to be more efficient for customers and wait staff alike.
  • Virtual brands - as delivery became the only option for many food service providers during the pandemic, virtual brands became a growth phenomenon. Virtual brands are ‘restaurants’ that exist only online. Food is prepared in kitchens of existing venues or in purpose-built ‘dark kitchens’. “Virtual brands offer operators rapid and relatively low-cost market entry with new cuisines and the opportunity to transform your kitchen into a separate revenue generator, while spreading costs across multiple brands”, said Lawrence Pelletier, Director of Sales & Marketing at Redcat, a hospitality IT platform that supports restaurant groups, quick-service restaurants and multi-site franchises. “As for customers, they get a wider choice of foods and restaurants without leaving home.”

These technologies and digital innovations have helped many businesses not only stay afloat during endless lockdowns and restrictions on dining out, but have seen them flourish; attracting new customers in this new era of virtual connection.

The revolution of dine-in and take-away dining brought about by technological advances - and propelled by the pandemic - look like they are here to stay.

1 https://pos.toasttab.com/resources/restaurant-technology-industry-report

2 https://hospitalitytech.com/cashless-king-contactless-interactions-become-more-important-ever

 

Explore these Food and Beverage franchises

Banjo’s Bakery Café - Established in 1984, Banjo’s now has 44 stores across the country with more on the way. Be part of an Australian success story and join a team that’s on the rise by joining a proven business model supported by a strong customer base that enjoys fresh handmade products baked on site every day. https://banjos.com.au/franchising/opportunities/

BK’S Takeaway - Although BK’s Takeaway is one of Australia’s newest franchises, the original store was born over 20 years ago in the rural town of Trafalgar in the heart of Victoria’s Gippsland region. Since then, BK’s Takeaway has grown across Victoria’s regional hubs, providing great Aussie food and friendly country service. https://www.bksfranchising.com.au/

Fasta Pasta - this leading Italian restaurant chain delivers fresh, popular, tasty meals, using the finest quality 100% Australian durum wheat semolina. With 20 Fasta Pasta restaurants Australia-wide, there are many opportunities for growth, particularly in South Australia and regional areas of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. https://www.fastapasta.com.au/franchising/

Hog’s Breath Café - Home to the famous 18-hour slow cooked prime rib and curly fries, Hog’s prides itself on a menu that mixes beloved classic meals with modern dishes and on-trend ingredients. Celebrating nearly 30 years of successful operation, they now have rare opportunities to join the largest privately owned casual dining group in Australia with Hog’s Australia’s Steakhouse, Hog’s Express and Funky Mexican Cantina. https://www.hogsbreath.com.au/franchising/

La Porchetta - The first La Porchetta Restaurant was opened in 1985, when Italian Born Rocky Pantaleo and Felice Nania took over a run-down pizza shop in Melbourne’s Italian hub. Today, La Porchetta continues to be part of the local community. Just as the kitchen is the centre of Italian family life, their restaurants celebrate that feeling of being at home with delicious food made from fresh ingredients, warm service, great value and a family heart. https://www.laporchetta.com/franchising/

Roll’d - Roll’d aims to share the things that matter most to us – great food and memorable experiences. With over 85 stores across six states and territories and international expansion in the works, the Roll’d Vietnamese phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down. Stores reflect the lively, fresh nature of Vietnamese street food with fresh high-quality ingredients. https://rolld.com.au/franchise/

SUBWAY - SUBWAY is the world's largest sandwich chain with more than 44,000 locations around the world. SUBWAY has become the leading choice for people seeking quick, nutritious meals that the whole family can enjoy. With locally-sourced vegetables, premium-quality meats and bread baked daily, Subway stands for fresh. https://subway-franchise.com/au-en/join-the-family/

The Sporting Globe Bar and Grill - The Sporting Globe is a global brand with a local touch - each venue sponsoring local grassroots sporting clubs with strong engagement in the local community. Offering quality Australian pub fare, an abundance of beers on tap in a welcoming atmosphere with the ultimate state-of-the-art sports fit out, The Sporting Globe is a great place to eat, drink and catch a game. https://www.sportingglobe.com.au/franchise