Casual dining has been on the decline for the last few years, thanks to millennials and their passion for a casual yet fast eating experience. The foodies of this generation are not interested in having a seat with a waiter and hostess. They are, instead, focused on going through cafeteria-type assembly lines all while getting the healthiest bang for their dollar. Applebee’s and IHOP know all too well about the gradual decline in casual dining. These two restaurants have, unfortunately, been on the receiving end of backlash coming as the result of an outdated business scheme.
Many older customers appreciate IHOP and Applebee’s for their home-like atmospheres that invite customers to relax and unload from the cares of the day over a hot meal. IHOP is traditionally known as the breakfast spot that most families patronize on the weekends.
Changes to the family unit and an overall transformation of society that includes more technology and less time to do one thing at a time have led to a revolution in the way that millennials consume their food. Instead of dining out at a restaurant during the week, young adults are taking advantage of takeout and other quick means of ordering. The weekends are no longer reserved for the family since young entrepreneurs are waiting longer to have kids. Taking a breakfast break at a place such as IHOP, then, is typically reserved for special occasions instead of being a constant thing.
It is no secret that millennials have challenged the restaurant sector to reconsider the way that it does dining. Applebee’s tried to attract younger crowds in 2016 by taking its signature riblets option off its menu. The result was, unfortunately, disastrous as the chainsaw a 7.9 percent decrease in same-store sales. It seems that loyal customers were none too pleased with Applebee’s cutbacks and responded with fewer visits. IHOP also saw a 2.1 percent decline in same-store sales last year, which proves that the problem is much broader than adding and removing a few menu items.
Restaurants hoping to survive in this present century of technology must keep up with the times. Having mobile apps that allow customers to order from work, school, or home is a great way to keep the digital connection that young professionals crave. Other technology takeovers include better point of sale systems. The new technology for a POS system is an excellent example of an all-in-one station that lets hostess and waiters get customers in and out more efficiently.
Technology means a lot, but it is, of course, not everything that young adults desire. Millennials are busy, which means that they probably lean more towards takeout than dining inside of an eatery. Having a business model that emphasizes off-premise ordering over dining in the store provides both the convenience and speed that garners the millennial dollar. Price is another point that restaurant owners should consider as young adults are often on a budget and will not pay more for a service if they can get it discounted elsewhere. It is a good idea to run sales often to encourage customers to try everything on the menu. Millennials will have no problem paying the full price for quality service and food.
Applebee’s and IHOP may have been caught off-guard by the digital age that requires more out-of-the-box thinking, but these two chains are steadily working towards financial recovery. In fact, both of the brands have implemented the elements of convenience, price, and speed in their new models and have experienced positive gains. Every restaurant owner does well to take notes from these industry moguls.