Bringing together top CEOs, executives and industry experts, this year’s prestigious QSR Conference and Awards addressed a range of hot topics in the QSR industry.

Five key ‘take-aways’ from this year’s conference include:

1.There is a growing pressure on QSR’s with venues located in shopping complexes to maintain a homogenous look and feel.
This presents a real challenge for QRS’s in an increasingly competitive retail environment where customer experience, and more specifically a positive and branded customer experience, is key. Certainly, the modern retail experience extends far beyond buying products. It’s about the feeling the customer gets when walking in to the store, the emotions invoked. Store design plays a vital role in this and therefore brands are increasingly focused on investing in store design and space.

2. Don’t be afraid to make tough decisions today for long-term benefits.
Operating in a competitive and fast paced industry, it can be tempting to avoid making tough decisions that will disrupt the status quo. Business leaders must not shy away from change though and should embrace difficult decisions that may reap long long-term rewards. Conference speaker, Tom Potter, founder of Eagle Boys Pizza, made the hard decision to shed unprofitable customers during a price war period. In reviewing and redefining his target market, Tom realized that not all customers are the same. A more focused approach led him to redevelop his offering based on a very clear understanding of his target market and within five years he gained a greater share of wallet and tripled his revenue.

3. Ethical marketing: it’s all or nothing
Research has shown that customers will pay for ethical products. At the heart of it, it is an emotional strategy. For businesses to successfully operate in this space however it is critical to apply the strategy consistently – including front of house, back of house and throughout the supply chain. Customers will see through half-hearted attempts and will be fierce in their emotional response. So don’t dabble. Identify what your customers care about and invest in that area fully or don’t at all.

4. Digital is the future
We are now in an age where customer experience transcends bricks and mortar and with the primary target market for QSR’s being 18-35 year-olds, digital is unambiguously the way of the future in the QSR category. Savvy QSR’s have carefully considered and invested in the use of technology both in and out of store. In-store, technology can be utilised to enhance customer experience in everything from entertainment to point of sale. Brands are also now using technology beyond their tangible stores through social media and mobile apps, with great success. The key to an effective digital strategy? Keep it simple!

5. Customer success strategy: save them time, money or give them something new
The quick service food industry in based on the core principle of affordable, quality food served fast. Save your customers time, money or offer them a new experience and you’ll keep them coming back. The QSR segment is made up of several different categories – including traditional QSR, fast casual restaurants, full service restaurants, supermarkets and petrol stations – and certainly the customer drivers for each segment vary. While customers of traditional QSR’s favour functionality and speed, those of fast casual restaurants are more motivated by food quality and innovation. Meanwhile supermarket customers are driven by convenience and price. For success in your category, identify your customer’s motivations and ensure your QSR is continually delivering to this

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