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“Those organizations that had intentional off-site dining strategies in place thrived, relatively speaking, during the height of the shutdown while those that didn’t and were slow to adapt, struggled.”


— Michael Keck President Concept Services


By the nature of their business, QSRs were able to more quickly adapt


to the realities of operating in a pandemic environment than were their full-service counterparts. As Keck explains, full-service restaurants are more dependent on the in-house dining experience and bar sales. In addition, their larger and more complex menus tend to feature dishes that don’t travel well in to-go and delivery orders. Some restaurants have tried to offset those challenges by moving to limited menus featuring their “best of” dishes, but Keck explains that, even when scaling back, it costs full-service restaurants more to support take-out programs than QSRs that occupy smaller spaces and have smaller menus. Plus, even before COVID-19 hit, virtually all QSR concepts had implemented offsite dining strategies, so it was much easier for them to suddenly and quickly shift to carry-out service and to work with third-party delivery companies. They already had drive-through lanes in place and they were familiar with running second prep lines for online and take-out orders. Many even had separate stations for third-party and takeout pickups to segment those operations from dine-in operations. “Those organizations that had intentional off-site dining strategies in place thrived, relatively speaking, during the height of the shutdown while those that didn’t and were slow to adapt, struggled,” Keck says. Although some of Concept Services’s QSR customers paused for a few weeks to determine a new strategy for how to best do business during the pandemic, most are now growing again, Keck says. That aligns with industry findings from Black Box Intelligence, which reported in early May that QSRs were the first foodservice segment to achieve positive comp sales. “There are a lot of indicators showing the QSR chain segment will lead the foodservice industry out of this virus,” Keck notes.


Setting Expectations The resiliency and faster rebound of the QSR segment has been a big part of why Concept Services has remained stable during the pandemic. But the company’s good fortune is about more than having the right customer mix – it took the necessary steps early on in the COVID-19 crisis to get into position to communicate with those customers and keep its business flowing.


32 FEDA News & Views


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