COVID-19 has changed, for now, the fast food and fast-casual industry and, moreover, the entire guest experience. Leaders in the fast-casual segment have jumped into action to ensure that their franchisees are able to maximize sales to guests and customers who still want to enjoy their favorite restaurant meals.
As if technology and artificial intelligence weren’t gaining traction fast enough prior to the outbreak, the coronavirus has certainly led to accelerated integration of apps and online ordering and, in many cases, the use of an online tool is now required for ordering takeout and delivery.
While there have historically been concerns over the use of technology to replace human employees, this is not the case in the food service industry. “The best brands use technology to enhance the experience, not necessarily as a way to remove human interaction,” an April 2020 QSR magazine report states. And most people are adapting to the technological changes. Citing a survey by Bottle Rocket, QSR reported that 33 percent of respondents planned to order at least half of their meals from quick-service restaurants in the next week.
Black Box Intelligence data supported QSR’s findings. For the week ending March 27, Black Box found, consumers who had not eliminated restaurant spending included a significant number of high-frequency spenders. Thirty-nine percent of consumers who purchased food from restaurants that week made at least five or more restaurant transactions during the period.
As it became apparent that the virus represented a serious and widespread pandemic, Wayback Burgers took immediate action to protect the health and well-being of guests, franchise partners, and team members — as well as to do everything possible to help ensure its franchisees would continue to generate revenue.
In the weeks since beginning the arc of its operational pivot, Wayback Burgers has continued to be at the forefront of best practices.
Phase One: Social Distancing
On March 13, Wayback Burgers put into action a plan for franchisees.
Safety measures included heightened handwashing and sanitization procedures in line with recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes more frequent sanitizing and cleaning of restrooms, door handles, and other high-touch hotspots.
At this time, Wayback Burgers removed all condiments, utensils, napkin dispensers, and other self-serve items from the dining area, delivering these items directly to each guest upon request. They also began wrapping and bagging all orders, even those for dining in, to ensure no food would be sitting out on a public countertop for any duration of time — replacing the previous manner of service in which food would be presented on a metal plate with a liner and brought to the table.
Because Wayback Burgers normally gives free refills to dine-in customers, a new sign directed guests who wanted a refill to come to the counter, where a team member would pour a drink in a new cup for them.
As the country at large took incremental measures toward flattening the COVID-19 curve, Wayback Burgers changed these and other seemingly little things that mattered the most.
“To create social distancing in the restaurants, we put tape markers on the floor for the people who did come in either to pick up their order or to place an order,” explained Patrick Conlin, President of Wayback Burgers. “Then, some franchisees added Plexiglass shields at the point-of-sale station. At the expo station where we wrap up and bag the food now, we added more Plexiglass stanchions, to protect the guests, the food, and the team members from each other.”
The company was able to source washable Wayback-branded masks, which were shipped out to all Wayback Burgers restaurants, for franchisees and team members to use for their safety and the safety of their guests. Additionally, company leaders and franchisees instructed any team members not feeling well to stay home and to self-monitor their symptoms.
Phase Two: Curbside Pickup
As Wayback Burgers rolled out phase one, which focused heavily on social distancing and hygiene, the team also started testing a new curbside service option. The company officially began offering this service on March 16. And a week later, on March 23, all Wayback locations closed their dining rooms and switched exclusively to curbside pickup and delivery.
“We implemented that pretty seamlessly with our technology partners and franchisees as dining rooms started to close across the country,” says Conlin. “Prior to the virus outbreak, our business was about 50 percent dine-in, 50 percent takeout and delivery. Currently, things look a little different.”
Guests can still order through the Wayback Burgers website and mobile app and pick their food up as usual. Team members will continue to follow all safety guidelines mentioned above when preparing the meals, and each order will be waiting for the guest when they arrive at the restaurant.
For guests who are more comfortable staying at home, Wayback Burgers delivery partners (Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, etc.) can bring orders to them, depending on local availability.
Phase Three: Reopening
As restaurants and other small businesses around the country begin reopening, nothing is more important than the safety of guests, team members and franchisees. Wayback Burgers will continue to follow protocols from the CDC, local boards of health, and other state and local authorities. They have increased the number of hand sanitizer stations, will continue to use floor graphics to reinforce social distancing, and make sure all restaurants have the necessary personal protective equipment (such as Wayback masks) to minimize any potential health risks.
If more drastic measures are required for the protection and safety of local communities, the company will abide by them and continue to provide every possible solution for guests, team members and franchisees.
Are you ready for a change?
For those either considering or currently evaluating the Wayback Burgers franchise opportunity, there has never been a better time to do so. With the rise in economic instability, brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, entrepreneurs and other investors have started to consider alternatives to keeping their money in the stock market.
Business ownership through franchising is one of the best ways to take control of your financial future. With Wayback Burgers, you are in business for yourself, but not by yourself. In fact, the team at Wayback is so dedicated to growing with the right franchise partners, that they even started offering Virtual Discovery Days, so current and future franchise candidates can continue to move toward business ownership without endangering themselves or others.
For more information on how to get started, visit https://waybackburgers.jp/franchising/.