Customer and Industry Trends - Staying Relevant and Thriving
Customer and industry trends identified in the 2019 Eating Out in Australia report, highlight a disconnect between the perspective of both customers and operators. Yet it also offers some magnificent insights in staying relevant and thrive in what has always been a competitive market.
Let’s start by looking at the key industry concerns.
What is fascinating about these figures is how relatively little, from the operator’s perspective, the consumer comes into the picture. Now, it should be noted that the venue owners were asked about their main concerns for their industry, so it is natural that they would be focused on the mechanics of the industry.
Yet, about a third of the operators’ comments about their customers, are actually complaints about their customers, such as:
“Customers being rude and demanding to staff”
“Customers think that they know everything from reading or watching one thing and have the wrong expectations.”
“The Aussie spirit for pubs is fading”
“People are very tight with their money – want everything for very little.”
Whilst this offers a certain perspective, we must be mindful that nothing happens unless people come through the door and spend money. Businesses that are outwardly-focused – those outlets whose singular mission is to attract and please customers – are those that will have the best chance for a healthy and long-term future.
As such, the industry needs operators who view them as opportunities rather than a burden.
Given Future Food’s emphasis on the customer, just what did Eating Out in Australia find out about their wants, desires and irritations?
The chart below summaries the data from Eating Out in Australia.
What is clear is that food is the key consideration for diners - customers want and demand good food.
However, what customers complain about is usually something else. Here are a sampling of the comments that were published:
“Customer service is critical whether you are a fast food store or fine dining. If you give poor customer service, I won’t return to your business.”
“Good staff are worth their weight in gold!”
“Having a smile on the face of every employee makes the world of difference.”
“Ambiance, a greeting, a smile, an offering, knowledge, a thank you.”
We have grouped the customers’ desires and complaints into Tiers. These have been grouped from Tier 1 (most important) to Tier 5 (least important).
It is the factors that fall into Tier 3 that are interesting. This may indicate that the public are split down the middle as to whether or not these are critical.
In terms of what people want, the Tier 3 categories are generally more ‘macro’ issues, while the irritations are about ‘micro’ issues. Based on the comments that we highlighted above, it is the irritations that stand out more for customers than the desires.
Four out of the five irritations in Tier 3 are about aspects of a venue’s hospitality, with only the service charge being more operational in nature. When combined with the Tier 2 irritation of Poor Service in general, it is becoming obvious that having a hospitable host is one of the most important components of running an F&B operation.
Here’s our key takeaway from all of this: Yes, food matters, however, mediocre food combined with great service generally outlasts (by a considerable margin) those outlets with great food and lousy service.
Create the combination of great food and great service and you have a sustainable and award-winning business.
Future Food offers operational and F&B Masterplanning services across the hospitality sector. For more than 25 years, we have provided operational benchmarking, financial forecasts, brand & concept creation, F&B mix programming, scheme & spatial review and recommendations as well as a range of tailored strategic thinking for the Food, Retail & Hospitality industry.
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Cover image: AU79 (Image via Jesse Thompson)