No Way To Curb This Enthusiasm

Sep 20, 2004

By George Anderson

Fast casual dining establishments, including Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday and Outback Steakhouse, are driving as much as 10 percent in incremental sales without ever having customers
come through the door.

Curbside pickup, reports USA Today, is the fastest growing piece of the casual dining industry’s business.

Ron Paul, president of Technomic, said having curbside pickup is “becoming a complete necessity” for fast casual dining operators.

Consumers are increasingly placing orders for curbside pickup because of the quality of the food and the convenience of the service.

Applebee’s CEO Lloyd Hill said, “The megatrend driving this forward is simple: convenience.”

For all the obvious consumer demand for the product, there still remain a number of customer service hurdles that need to be overcome. Incorrect orders are a too frequent complaint
of consumers.

Speed can also be a factor, with employees at curbside having to go back into restaurants to handle credit card processing. USA Today reports, Applebee’s “is testing an
electronic device that would let employees who lug the food to cars handle credit card payments without running back inside.”

Moderator’s Comment: What do you see as the potential of the curbside pickup business? What can fast casual operators
do to improve their efficiency and customer service at curbside?

Of the fast casual chains included in the USA Today piece, Outback Steakhouse has the highest expectations for its curbside pickup business. It is
looking for 15 percent of its sales to eventually come from curbside pickup.

George Anderson – Moderator

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