Why Fast Casual is Drowning and Energy Management is the Life Boat

April 10, 2017

Fast casual food chains seek to combine the speed of traditional fast food restaurants with higher-quality food. Foods are typically fresh, not frozen and prepared to order giving diners a healthier meal option on-the-go at a reasonable price point. Unfortunately, this leads to a greater risk for losses and creates complexity in managing inventory and operations effectively. Smart energy management systems can help this new class of food chains realize better operating costs.

Markets Are Declining, Increasing Pressure for Fast Casual Energy Management

Across the fast casual spectrum, companies are seeing decreased sales, reports Jonathan Maze of Restaurant News. Chipotle, Noodles & Company and Pie Five have experienced declines of up to 17.4 percent over recent years. However, some companies are responding to market fluctuations by enhancing operations, cutting overhead costs and boosting overall profit margins.


Consumers’ Dining Budgets Play a Role in Market Changes

Consumers are looking for low-cost, convenient, top quality meals from brands that have an inherently higher food cost than their fast food counterparts driving thin margins and the need to control operating costs. The location of fast casual restaurants is also a barrier to profitability, typically further from the roadside, which means gaining a consumer base may be harder.


Lease Costs Are Spiking Further Driving Need for Operational Efficiency

Investments in fast casual dining are increasing regardless of market fluctuation, and the demand has driven spikes in real estate leasing for restaurant operators nation-wide. Per the U.S. Department of Energy, increasing real estate drives companies to look for ways to minimize operating costs. This may include demand-controlled kitchen ventilation guides, energy management assessments and deploying proactive, automated smart building technologies for energy management.

There Is a Renewed Focus on Energy Management

In 1996, when first introduced to the market, fast casual energy management systems were cutting-edge, but installation costs were high, applying the technology was complicated and most vendors did not offer the services or support required to maintain the systems. Since, higher energy prices, inflation and government mandated sustainability regulations have prompted a renewed interest in energy management. With the renewed interest, innovation has led to further advancements in the technology making smart building solutions easier to use, install, and maintain. Today, handheld devices and remote access make utilizing an energy management system seamless with traditional operations.

Emerging smart kitchen appliances now help fast casual food chains identify energy drain and usage, giving the company a 360° view into what’s really eating away at the budget. For example, are walk-in coolers and refrigeration working at peak efficiency, or is the HVAC system failing to properly ventilate the kitchen?

The Key Is Gaining C-Level Interest in Fast Casual Energy Management Systems

Fast casual food chains are inherently susceptible to a disconnect of information. In other words, individual franchisees may not have the authority to launch smart energy management systems on their own. Therefore, gaining C-level interest in these systems is essential, reports Food Newsfeed. Some of the best ways to gain C-level support of implementation is by presenting the core benefits of energy management systems and showcasing how they lead to better profit margins.

{{cta('fc00abb8-b5c5-489f-805a-347ff0eed124')}} today to learn more about how an energy management system can help fast casual food chains overcome market changes and retain high profit margins.


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