The national restaurant industry outlook is strong for 2014 thanks to a surge in consumer demand. The pent-up demand, perhaps the result of the economic stagnation, is spurring more patrons to eat out more often at local establishments. The result is that restaurant sales are expected to increase 3.6% for 2014 as compared to 2013 sales.
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The chart below from the National Restaurant Association predicts sales of $683.4 billion among the nation’s food service establishments in 2014.
The above figures include many types of national restaurants, chain restaurants, and local small business establishments including typical eating places, managed food service businesses, bars and taverns, lodging places, retail and vending services, for example.
States projecting robust job growth in the restaurant industry include Arizona, Texas, Florida, Nevada and Georgia.
With over 900,000 restaurants in the United States employing 13.5 million people or 10% of the United States workforce, restaurants remain a thriving small business sector.
Restaurant Industry Trends
Restaurant owners know that they must keep up-to-date with trends in cuisine, business growth and management in order to survive and thrive. The top trends this year for restaurants include:
- Locally grown, seasonal produce and meats.
- Gluten-free menu choices.
- Spicy foods, ethnic foods.
- Healthy choices on children’s menus.
- Overall emphasis on healthfulness of items, addressing health concerns in menu options.
- More restaurant owners investing in employee training and development.
- Investing in technology, such as improved customer-facing technology, front and back-end systems.
- Increased use of social media marketing to encourage interaction and brand loyalty.
- Local search marketing, especially reviews, to drive traffic to restaurant locations. (To learn how to manage your online reviews go here).
Key-Takeaways for Business Owners
- Restaurant owners should keep abreast of four business areas to run a successful restaurant: food and nutrition, workforce engagement, marketing and sales, and business operations. All four segments, working in concert, lead to successful restaurants.
- The restaurant industry continues to offer growth opportunities. Business owners should look for untapped trends in their current markets for growth potential.
- If all the restaurants in your city or town offer similar fare, consider capitalizing on trends to open a new type of restaurant or update your menu to reflect trends. Assess the potential profits and losses of doing such an update before launching it.
- Restaurant owners who embrace technology trends find more opportunities to use data to increase profitability and improve their overall business systems. With better data, you can schedule staff according to peak dining hours, order more ingredients on days with more business, and track which items are selling better, for example.
- Personal service remains the “make or break” factor among successful restaurants. According to the National Restaurant Association, over 30% of all restaurants surveyed plan to invest more in staff training in 2014 than previous years; the highest number of restaurants indicating willingness to invest in training for their teams is among the fast food industry.
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