How QSR Operators Can Survive and Thrive in 2021

OneDataSource President and Founder Bruce Belvin

Bruce Belvin, OneDataSource Founder & President

As Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a-changing.” We all need to hear Bob’s message and explore how we change, to not only survive but thrive over the balance of 2020 and through 2021.

I was told in a recent conversation, “I don’t expect a full meltdown, but a drawn-out period of uncertainty for most while real hardship will persist for others.”

Let’s quickly explore what’s happened to this point.

Where Things Stand With Casual Dining & QSRs

Casual dining has had a rough go, and it does not look like that will change this year.

QSR brands that relied heavily on catering are lagging, while brands that traditionally don’t do delivery had to become delivery-focused out of necessity.

All told, I am betting the food and beverage industry is 12-18 months from seeing more than a silver lining.

How QSR Restaurants Can Thrive in 2021

Operational excellence combined with new ideas to drive revenue are the keys to a prosperous 2021.

But what does that look like in practice?


Silver Linings in the Restaurant Industry

It begs the question: what types of restaurants will do well?

  • Delivery-focused brands with “owned” delivery
  • Brands with a product that is good enough to warrant expensive delivery by third parties
  • Conveniently-located casual dining with outdoor seating
  • Local favorites that managed to stay afloat and can bring in loyal customers with their great product and hospitality

How Restaurant Operators Can Make the Most of a Tough Situation

At the end of the day, there is only so much expense to cut. Then, you must find revenue.

Operational excellence must be a top priority to ensure customers frequent your restaurants more than your competitors. To achieve operational excellence, you need to hire the best staff, while giving them reasons to stay with you in a hypersensitive labor market that we see right now.

So, what can restaurant operators do to drive revenue?

Well, if you are not delivering, figure it out and start. Here are some key questions to answer as you think about offering delivery.

  • Will your product travel?
  • Do the economics of Uber, GrubHub, et al work for you?
  • Are you in a trade area that makes sense for delivery?
  • How will you take delivery orders?

There are more articles with varying points of view and observations about delivery than you can read this year. Do the discovery and decide.

To achieve operational excellence, you need to hire the best staff, while giving them reasons to stay with you in a hypersensitive labor market.

Think About “Costs of Doing Business” Differently

In servicing 6,000-plus stores across 30-plus brands, it continues to surprise us how many operators leave money on the table by not taking a more disciplined and modern approach to traditional “costs of doing business.”

Ways QSR Operators Can Reduce G&A Expenses

First, there’s never been a better time to re-think the home office.

What steps can you take to run a lean and efficient operation? Technology – especially technology based on automation – provides an opportunity to improve your bottom line.

Outsourcing may also be a great idea. While some are put off by the thought of outsourcing, doing it well can reduce your G&A expenses significantly.

Here’s some food for thought…

Back in March, right before COVID hit, we hosted a QSR Scaling Forum in Charleston, SC with our customers and industry partners. At that event, James Bodenstedt, President & CEO of MUY Companies!, shared that if he were restarting MUY! he would outsource anything he could.

Now keep in mind, MUY does $1B in revenue with G&A expenses slightly above 3%. They are paperless already and leverage a significant amount of automation for their home office. It’s an interesting perspective from someone who has achieved massive scale with an incredibly lean operation.

Just below you can hear more about the value MUY! gets from our above-store business intelligence and operational reporting solution, oneVIEW, and our intelligent accounts payable automation solution, onePAY.

Then, if you are already outsourcing, an audit of your service should be done. Here are some key questions to perform discovery on:

  • Is your provider efficient and using technology that allows them to offer you the best pricing possible?
  • Are you or your provider hand keying data, processing paper invoices, printing checks, filing paper or downloading from multiple websites?
    • Ask for an invoice copy from 3-4 months ago. If you do not have it in minutes, there is money to be saved.

If the answer to those questions is no then yes, it’s time to help your provider or your office team evolve.

Office, you said? No, you may not need that either. Many of our customers are telling us that remote, or mostly remote, is here to stay.

Depending on where your organization is with technology, paper, hand keying, we have helped operators across the country gain 200-300 basis points. You do not have to languish in the 1980’s processes.

Now is the time to start building a leaner and more durable organization. As they say, there’s no better time than the present – and 2020 has certainly proved that to be true.

If you’d like to learn more about our QSR-specific technology solutions, visit the links below or drop us an email! We’d love to hear from you.


Accounts Payable Health Check

Accounts Payable Health Check

In this 20-question evaluation guide, you’ll examine the maturity of your accounts payable operation and explore ways to improve your back office – and business.

Wonder where your AP operation stacks up?

Discover the latest from our blog.