Technology is forever changing the way the world works, and ambitious franchise businesses aren’t holding back on investing in new ways of working. From food production to contactless payments and table service apps, there’s a lot of technology your fast food franchise should be looking at.
Now more than ever, fast food franchises are seeking innovative ways to get ahead of the competition. Besides the exciting trends taking the industry by storm, you’ll also need to know how you can boost your fast food franchise’s profits and customer experience before making a career change.
So to give you some pointers, we’ve put together a list of tech trends changing the face of the fast food sector forever. Whether you’re new to the world of fast food franchising or an experienced franchisee, here’s how you can get some exciting tech trends working for your business.
5 tech trends innovating the fast food sector
1. Food delivery platforms
When the pandemic first struck businesses in the UK, many fast food chains quickly resorted to food delivery apps to get them through the immediate aftermath. But what was once a last resort is today an essential part of the business model for many fast food franchises. Allowing fast food businesses to continue delivering to their trusted customers while still accessing new ones has proven to be valuable to businesses around the country.
And, with the rise of ghost kitchens, being able to deliver through food delivery apps is quickly becoming an essential feature of many fast food franchises. While the days of sit-in fast food franchises are far from gone, this is one techy trend your franchise needs to be a part of.
The advent of appealing, user-friendly apps and tech-enabled driver networks, coupled with changing consumer expectations, has unlocked ready-to-eat food delivery as a major category. Lockdowns and physical-distancing requirements early on in the pandemic gave the category an enormous boost, with delivery becoming a lifeline for the hurting restaurant industry. Moving forward, it is poised to remain a permanent fixture in the dining landscape.
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2. Digital payments
Particularly for van-based and mobile franchises, the idea of moving towards digital payment methods has long been a sticking point. After all, if cash is king, why ditch the coins? But with public health regulations effectively demanding it, and customers expecting it, businesses around the country are moving to digital payments.
As many as 74% of small businesses have agreed that their customers expect contactless payments as a matter of course [Retail Merchant Service], meaning if your franchise isn’t offering contactless, you could be pushing them to your competitors.
Contactless has become the payment method of choice for many consumers in the UK, with contactless payments accounting for 51% of all credit cards and 66% of all debit card transactions in June 2021, a whopping 92.4% higher than June 2020.
- Retail Merchant Service
3. Artificial intelligence
While artificial intelligence (AI) and the fast food industry might not sound like a match made in heaven, this kind of technology is being rolled out across many of the world’s biggest fast food franchises. From number plate recognition to personalised, behaviour-based options, AI has the potential to boost profitability while significantly streamlining operations.
To make the most of personalised choices, algorithms and other dynamically optimised features, customers are prepared to pay 14% more per order, making this both an operational and profitable boon to a fast food franchise [E And T].
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Sustainable business isn’t just a buzzword or a marketing tool - many customers will truly expect the businesses they shop from to operate sustainably. And while a franchise that operates lots of industrial equipment might find this more difficult than most, there’s still plenty of room for optimism.
As a sustainable fast food franchise, consider some of the following options that could not only boost your footfall, but potentially will save you money as well:
- Roof-based solar panels to cut your energy and electricity bills
- Air fryers and cookers to reduce your cooking oil consumption
- Soluble, reusable or biodegradable packaging
- E-receipts and online invoices instead of paper
- Using electric vehicles for delivery and offering recharge stations for customers
- Plenty of vegetarian and vegan options
- Deposits, trade-in and recycling schemes
Amid Styrofoam cups and packaging, plastic lids, cardboard holders, and genetically modified vegetables and inorganic meat, the industry is not particularly environmentally friendly. But as going green becomes more of an attractive image for customers, many companies are moving towards greener options that are less harmful to the environment. There is now real progress towards greener alternatives in the fast food industry.
- Greener Ideal
5. Voice tech
Voice technology is another tech trend that has really come into its own over the course of the pandemic. Serving the essential purpose of reducing face-to-face contact, voice recognition and automation technology allows orders to be processed at the customer’s say so. Gone are the days of crackly and uncertain microphones - modern voice technology has advanced significantly, making them important parts of your business.
Make tech work for your fast food franchise
Whatever your preferences and needs, there are lots of fast-growing fast food franchises to suit your needs. Whatever your investment thresholds, preferred working patterns and operations, you’ll have plenty of support when you start your own fast food franchise. For more resources, consult Point Franchise’s guides to running your own fast food business, how to choose the right franchise for you, or have a look at other opportunities on the UK franchise directory.
Elliott Fudge, Point Franchise ©