Most people don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes in restaurants, however. While we’re trying to create a memorable experience on the front end for our guests, we’re having to face a number of headwinds on the back end. From legislative and regulatory pressures to labor costs and cybersecurity, old and new issues challenge our profit margins and blur our operating procedures.
Georgia’s restaurant industry plays a vital role in the state’s economic success, bringing jobs, opportunities and revenue to local communities and the state. Restaurants provide vast opportunities and career paths. Having a strong voice to support and speak for this industry is a key component in its continued success.
The GRA ensures that the industry is well-represented, protected against legislation that can hurt business and that the contribution of restaurants is recognized. However, it is important to be aware of what is coming down the pipeline. There are several pressing issues beyond the obvious regulatory constraints being placed upon business owners. Here are some things to be aware of in 2017:
Labor pool is dwindling
Recruiting and retaining top talent remains to be a top challenge for operators. There is so much competition among other industries for employees. Workforce demographics are shifting as the younger labor pool is shrinking and there is a greater proportion of the older workers.
Moderate sales growth
The restaurant industry has seen moderate sales growth over the past year. Substantial regional variations will continue, reflecting local business conditions.
Technology growing pains
We continue to see an abundance of new and varied technology products that we can use to enhance our business. We are in a race to always be tech-forward, however sometimes new technology can make a restaurant experience more complicated.
Mobile payment on the rise
New apps featuring mobile payments like how to split a check with friends or pay ahead for your meal, are becoming more and more popular. While consumers may remain on the fence about paying for meals via smartphones, with the concern of staying secure, the trend for mobile payment is expected to rise.
The generation of foodies
Restaurant patrons today are very different from what they were 20 or even 10 years ago.
Younger generations tend to have a sophisticated world-view when it comes to food. Operators will continue learning how to cater to these types of guests, finding the balance between precise tastes versus becoming too niche and possibly turning off other guests.
As we move into 2017, restaurants must know how to navigate through the trends and the issues to stay relevant and remain successful. The GRA works to provide restaurant operators with the resources and tools to succeed. Through communications, webinars and the knowledge center hosted at www.garestaurants.org, restaurants can stay abreast of what is coming down the pipeline.
Paul Baldasaro is chairman of the Georgia Restaurant Association.