As QSR & Fast Casual Expand, a Good Safety/Quality System is Essential

Dallas Henderson

by Dallas Henderson, Account Manager at RizePoint

Investment dollars are leading to unprecedented growth in the fast casual and quick service restaurant spaces. The global fast casual and QSR market, which were valued at $232.3 billion in 2021, is expected to surpass $308 billion by 2027. This expansion is due, in part, to explosive, pent-up demand. Now, many brands are expanding – and/or repositioning – to leverage key opportunities in these spaces. Amid this expediential growth, a good food safety/quality system is essential.

As many fast casual restaurants and QSRs grow – and brands reposition themselves to capitalize on this trend – they would be wise to:

Grow safely. A quality management system (QMS) is essential to help drive brands’ growth and expansion safely. Utilize a QMS to onboard franchisees and ensure they’re positioned to meet brand standards from the start. Emphasize that all locations must prioritize quality management to avoid problems in the future.
Leverage best practices. Take the quality and safety programs that work well in existing locations and replicate them in your new restaurants. First impressions matter, so focus on operational excellence from the very beginning.
Drive consistency. Use an integrated QMS to ensure consistent operational excellence across all locations. Give employees the tools, training, and incentives to prioritize safety and quality every day, with every meal.
Demonstrate ROI. Investors are contributing significant money to our industry, and they expect to see a strong ROI. Demonstrate that your QMS is driving growth, boosting sales, and increasing positive results. Position your QMS as insurance for their investment.
Use QMS reporting features. Collect and spotlight data to quantify the investment back to the investors. Your QMS is a great reporting tool for your Board of Directors/management teams to demonstrate strong KPIs, ensure safety and quality compliance, and spot trends. Your QMS reports can also help managers identify (and fix) any issues before they become costly liabilities.
Modernize your auditing approach. More locations don’t necessarily mean more inspector visits. Transition to a combination of self-assessments, virtual and traditional audits – a more collaborative, less punitive approach. Self-assessments and virtual audits allow brands to engage and empower employees, making them feel more invested in – and responsible for – safety and quality efforts.
Evolve appropriately. Brands that survived the pandemic were nimble, adapting to changing consumer demand by offering more takeout, curbside, and delivery options. As we hit and surpass the pandemic’s two-year mark, brands are continuing to evolve to survive and thrive. For instance, Smokey Bones now offers drive-through. Be creative with your offerings, such as reserved parking spots for takeout orders and drive through to accommodate guests who prefer to go options. Offer alcohol to go, as an added incentive for people looking to elevate the takeout dining experience at home.
Rely on tech tools. If you aren’t already doing so, pivot from antiquated manual systems and use tech tools to manage your safety and quality efforts. The right software will help you get a comprehensive view of your business, improve safety practices, manage safety checklists, and analyze data for more informed decisions. Use an integrated system that can scale as your organization grows.
Train staff. Conduct ongoing training – not just a one-time effort when new hires are onboarded. Prioritize the highest-quality food safety and quality efforts and ensure that every employee is adhering to your safety and quality protocols. Be certain that all employees are leveraging your digital tools – including your QMS – to maximize this effort.
Create a safety culture. Even if you’re rapidly adding locations amid the surge in investor dollars, don’t cut corners on quality and safety. Emphasize this culture from the top down and be sure that it permeates throughout the enterprise.
Be transparent. In our post-COVID world, guests want to see “proof” that your restaurant is operating safely. Be certain that your staff is visibly following safety protocols and cleaning constantly. Have hand sanitizer readily available and visible. Include flyers and/or stickers about your commitment to food safety with delivery orders. Spotlight your commitment to food safety everywhere, including on your website and your social media platforms.

We’ve been anxiously waiting for some good news in our industry, and things finally appear to be improving. After two years of unprecedented disruption, now we’re seeing numerous fast casual and QSR brands experiencing significant growth, including McDonald’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Del Taco Restaurant. As brands recover and evolve, they should prioritize safety and quality, using a QMS to do so effectively.

Dallas Henderson, a 25-year veteran of the service industry, is an Account Manager at RizePoint.  RizePoint is disrupting traditional market software with their innovative, new product platform Ignite Supplier Certification Management, which helps small to medium sized businesses simplify the supplier certification and maintenance process. To discuss RizePoint’s solutions, please contact Dallas at dallas.henderson@rizepoint.com.

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