The quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry in Australia seems to always rise above a challenge. Fluctuating economies, rapidly changing customer preferences and new competition have been no match for a sector that has endured all this, and more. Even recent global events (don’t worry, we won’t be mentioning the dreaded ‘C’ word in this article) have been no match for this resilient sector. It’s fair to say that this industry knows the importance of adapting to new circumstances and trends. And thanks to this, the fast-food sector in Australia has a bright outlook and is in a strong position to tackle what lies ahead.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) almost a third (31 per cent) of Australian businesses – including QSR’s – are having difficulty finding suitable staff.
Additionally, the increased use of online food delivery services in Australia has also cut into many QSR businesses profits, in some cases up to 30%, due to trading restrictions that led to more partnerships with food delivery platforms, such as Uber Eats and Menulog. This has created a seismic shift in consumer preferences.
So how can hospitality and fast-food industry leaders quickly overcome challenges like:
- Attracting and retaining staff given the current reduced talent pool size?
- Ensuring employees feel valued and engaged?
- Keeping up with the digital transformation taking place in the QSR industry, and staying relevant?
We are the first to admit that there is no silver bullet, but there are practical steps you can take now to help future-proof your business. Here we share three of them.
Tip 1: Have effective (and instant) business-wide communication
In fast-food, communication is critical for both franchises and the teams that run them. Inconsistency of messaging can cause immeasurable damage to a brand, create chaotic product launches, and leave employees confused and frustrated. Remember these are the same employees we are trying to retain!
Echoing the experience of many, Simon Crowe the Founder and Managing Director of Grill’d noted, “In the past, we have been heavily reliant on our regional, area, and restaurant managers to deliver messages through to our restaurant teams. This naturally led to inconsistencies across our 140+ restaurants.”
Grill’d took this communication gap seriously, aware of the potential negative business effects on their brand and their staff, if left ignored. They first took the time to think about their employees and noted that many of them were of a younger demographic. These employees are digital natives, accustomed to instant communication, fast updates, and online communities. So, Grill’d leveraged this insight and introduced Workplace from Meta across Australia. The platform turned out to be the bridge needed between HQ, management, franchisees, team and front-of-house staff. It created true two-way information flow across the entire workforce.
Commenting on this Simon adds, “With Workplace, we can now deliver the same message instantly, for everyone in the team to view.”
And it isn’t just Grill’d who are singing the praises of the benefits of improving workplace communication. Ben & Jerry’s (the ice cream hero’s we all needed during the pandemic) also used Workplace for Meta to deliver more effective business-wide communication that was two-way, real-time, and tailored to the right person at the right time.
“After only two weeks we’re already feeling closer to our franchise partners and scoopers. We’re getting to know each other (and our pets at home), we’re hosting votes on changes we could make to the product and our customer experience, and we’re sharing knowledge like never before!”, highlights Bruce Lambert, Head of Retail at Ben & Jerry’s ANZ.
The key takeaway (no pun intended) is that communication is key. With around seventy-five percent of the restaurant workforce being Gen Z or millennials, QSR’s need to focus on instant and clear communication channels that keep their front-of-house informed, preferably utilising their mobile device. This means Quick service restaurants in Australia need to have a platform that keeps their time-poor frontline employees informed quickly of what is happening in the company, facilitates team comradery, boosts inclusiveness, and allows frontline workers to have a say on improving products and customer experience. So, we need to ask ourselves, how effective, accurate and timely is communication in my hospitality business?
Communication is a great first step, but fast-food businesses and other quick service restaurants can go further to engage with employees.
Tip 2: Develop a deep connection with your ‘secret ingredient’
Everyone has heard about KFC’s 7 secret herbs and spices, and how closely guarded they are. But is product alone what makes a quick service restaurant truly successful? What is the secret recipe to sending your customer satisfaction scores skyrocketing? Spend some time reading restaurant reviews on platforms like Google and you’ll soon see that service and staff have a huge impact on customer satisfaction.
You can have the best product in the universe, but if your staff are disengaged or feel dissatisfied, this will be reflected in the overall customer experience.
Happy staff is the secret ingredient we can’t afford to ignore. So, when The Coffee Club surveyed their staff and discovered that 85% of their employees said they would like the opportunity to feel more connected with others in the business on a two-way communication platform, they knew not to ignore it.
Workplace from Meta was their answer. The features like Live Video, Groups and Insights were what appealed to Coffee Club the most. And thanks to Enablo’s simple set-up and launch blueprints, they were able to quickly roll out Workplace to every employee’s device, and immediately started creating connected spaces that benefited frontline staff, franchisees, and leadership teams.
Reflecting on their experience with Workplace from Meta mid-pandemic, Nick Bryden, CEO of The Coffee Club highlights, “The positive effects that [Workplace] has had on our network, at one of the most challenging times in its history, has been profound and we continue to see growth in engagement and connection each week.”
Yes, happy, engaged and connected employees will undoubtedly impact your ability to retain staff. And happy staff provide great customer service.
Tip 3: Don’t go at it alone, partner with experts
Digital transformation is a journey we are all on. And the reality is that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ or ‘off-the-shelf’ solution when it comes to implementing effective workplace communication technology for quick service restaurants.
And there is certainly no need to go at it alone. When you partner with a reputable technology solution provider you will:
- Receive expert advice by those who live and breathe digital transformation
- Be guided through every step of the process – from discovery to implementation and then embedding the tool into your company objectives and overall change agenda
- Receive ongoing support and training while you and your teams become accustomed to a new way of working.
This is exactly what we do at Enablo. We start off by understanding your unique challenges, we dig deeper into (all) your employee’s needs and wants, current communication practices and learn more about your business objectives. Once we truly understand your needs, we suggest a communication framework, and supporting technology and integrations, to help you achieve your business goals.
Grill’d is an example of a quick service restaurant who reaped the rewards of partnering with a Workplace elite partner, “Workplace is so easy to use, and with the support of Enablo, we knew we were in safe hands. Sure enough, we worked together to hit all our deadlines by our accelerated launch date,” says Stephanie Day, Internal Comms at Grill’d.
Look at us like an extension of your team, providing an end to end solution that ensures you launch and embed your new platform with success with strategy and planning techniques and a proven launch and enablement strategy that sets you up for success.
Leveling up to the challenge
Quick service restaurants are facing many challenges, including the need to introduce new and improved ways of working that enhance workplace communication and increase staff engagement.
Confront these challenges head on by investing in an effective and instant business-wide communication tool, like Workplace from Meta, that will allow you to keep your staff informed, engaged, and feel valued.
But don’t go at it alone. Leverage the experience of a digital transformation partner, who understands your industry and challenges well, is passionate about employee satisfaction, and who can create a tailored workplace strategy that meets your business objectives.