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As 2018 draws to an end, fast casual operators are already thinking about how to make 2019 a year of growth. And it seems finding ways to save on labor costs while investing in technology upgrades are top of mind, according to our annual survey that polled more than 250 fast casual restaurant operators about their business strategies. Now in its 10th edition, the Fast Casual State of the Industry delivers insights and actionable intelligence on everything from workforce and business strategy to food and beverage trends and sales and marketing.

We learned, for example, that nearly all of the respondents were trying to cut labor costs, and more than half (54 percent) were concerned with their states’ rising minimum wages. About 35 percent of the nearly 200 respondents were already paying between $10 and $12 per hour, and 25 percent pay their hourly workers more than $12.

To offset some of those costs, operators are taking a variety of measures, including cutting staff (19 percent), cutting hours (31 percent), increasing menu prices (64 percent) and cutting other investments in the business (20 percent). Only 6 percent said they wouldn’t have to make cuts to make up for wage hikes.

That is just one small area covered extensively in the report. Other questions delve deep into specifics such as:

  • Internal training strategies.
  • Employee turnover rates.
  • Average employee wages.
  • Customer service improvement plans.
  • Cost of goods sold.
  • Plans for new technologies.
  • Industry issues like menu restrictions, immigration reform, franchise law and others.
  • Limited-time offers and meal deals.
  • Sales by daypart.
  • Alternate ordering options.
  • Social media strategy.

… and many more, with almost 100 charts and graphs to help tell the story.

Also included are commentaries from industry leaders and experts:

  • Food & Beverage Trends That Will Survive Into 2019, by Suzy Badaracco, president, Culinary Tides.
  • 3 Ways Technology Can Help Grow Traffic, by Stephen Dutton, senior analyst, Euromonitor International.
  • The Importance of Trust Through Communication in Responsibly Growing a Franchise Brand, by Michael Mabry, president and COO, Mooyah, Burgers, Fries & Shakes.
  • Fast Casual Frenzy: 5 Ways to Stand Out in the New Age of Dining, by Kenny Rufino, creative director and senior vice president, REQ.
  • Leadership Lessons from Jersey Mike’s Subs, by Keith Hertling, vice president of leadership, coaching and culture, Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems, Inc.
  • Tips to Survive the Labor Cost Challenge, by Juan Martinez, principal, Profitality.
  • Amplifying Your Buzz: How to Maximize Your Earned Media Validation, by Brian Jaeger, vice president of media relations, No Limit Agency.

Click here to download and purchase.

Posted with permission from
Photo Credit: Fast Casual
Cherryh Cansler

Cherryh Cansler

Cherryh Cansler has been a reporter and editor for nearly 15 years, writing on a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining Networld Media Group as managing editor of Food/Retail Publications, she was content specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City and has served as editor for several publications. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine.

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