Winning Strategies For QSR Success in 2024 – Part One

As the quick-service restaurant (QSR) landscape evolves in 2024, operators face unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Standard restaurant indices tend to support claims that restaurant customers have returned to their pre-pandemic behaviors, as evidenced by stable traffic and higher average checks. But when Revenue Management Solutions took a closer look at national QSR trends, the data told a different story — one that indicates the industry is in uncharted territory.

In a recent conversation with Mark Kuperman, RMS COO, and Michael Halen, Bloomberg senior restaurant and foodservice analyst and host of the podcast “Choppin’ It Up,” they discussed what operators can do to reach QSR guests who now have different expectations post-pandemic.

The conversation referenced RMS’ recent study comparing national QSR performance to pre-pandemic levels. As Halen acknowledged, the analysis is unusual in that it provides additional insights beyond the typical month-over-month and year-over-year data that most industry studies compare.

To highlight all the invaluable insights discussed in the episode (available here), we’ve split Kuperman’s top takeaways and actionable insights into two parts for a comprehensive guide to QSR success in 2024.

  1. Understand price advantages relative to the competition. When it comes to the competition, an item-to-item comparison isn’t enough, says Kuperman. It’s important to understand the makeup of checks, not just the overall spend. Instead, operators should be interested in the customer’s total basket: What are they spending at your brand and at the competition?

    To gain deeper insights into competitive pricing strategies, consider leveraging a price monitoring tool such as RMS’ Competitor Price Intelligence. These types of solutions provide competitor insights, allowing you to make informed decisions and stay ahead in the market.

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  1. Effective strategies distribute price across customer types. Understanding the distribution of who buys which items and how they might be bundled together can help brands avoid overpricing and touching several items on the same check ultimately creating sticker shock and driving customers away. For example, taking price on a burger, chicken sandwich and vegetarian item might be more successful than taking price on a burger, fry and beverage all at once. This requires understanding the total check makeup.
  1. Get strategic — about everything. New customer behavior trends call for new strategies, and that’s not limited to pricing. Overlook nothing, including hours of operation. Look across all your individual restaurant locations to understand the impact of extended or shortened operating hours. It’s likely that what works at one store might not work at another.

    Kuperman suggests that operators can use the experimental data available to study the impact of different operating hours. This allows brands to uncover great opportunities for optimizing revenue and labor by market.
  1. Make the most of the drive-thru. Drive-thru accounts for two-thirds of all fast-food revenue, and as such, every element of the channel should be optimized to improve profit margins, ease throughput or both.
  1. Refine your drive-thru vs. dine-in experience. The pandemic trained guests to stay in their cars. With advancements in drive-thru technology and operations, they’re more inclined to continue this trend. As a result, recapturing dine-in traffic will require a deeper understanding of what draws customers to the dine-in experience. Is it the quality of food, the level of customer service or pricing? Brands need to solve for this to effectively cater to evolving consumer preferences.

Read part two for more insights

Explore more actionable insights for fast food operators in 2024. Plus, discover what Kuperman says is the most important thing restaurants can do to find grace with customers when taking price.

Be sure to read part two of this series, where we’ll explore more actionable strategies fast-food operators can implement in 2024. Plus, find out what Kuperman says is the single most important thing restaurants can do to find grace with customers when taking price.

When the time comes to capturing market share or leveraging your restaurant’s POS data and that of your competitors, RMS can help. Our solutions empower you to make informed business decisions that result in higher profit gains. Contact our team today to kickstart your journey to QSR success in 2024.

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