Speed of service has always been a prevalent, foundational element for restaurants. Timeliness directly affects a customer’s perception of a good or bad experience with a brand, whether they consciously correlate it or not. This could be the differentiating factor of whether a customer chooses to return to a restaurant or not. And as we become a culture even more evolved within the spectrum of tech progression, this element will only become more apparent.
Foodable Labs’ most recent report on Speed of Service, brought to you by LRS, breaks down everything you need to know about speed of service and includes proprietary data on consumer behavior and sentiment from the Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI). The report includes the Top 10 RSMI Brands for Speed, how a restaurant operator can shift a consumer’s perception of speed (and, in turn, their perception of value), what service expectation times are for each restaurant category, how to make operations more efficient and faster without decreasing performance in other areas, and more.
Below, we highlight the frontrunner of the Top 10 RSMI Brands for Speed. These Top 10 brands, all thoroughly vetted out in the report, are compiled of multi-unit operators that social consumers believe have higher quality or faster speed of service than others. Unlike the overall sentiment we usually use for brands in the RSMI, for the purpose of this report, we only tracked the speed of service component, which was based on the extraction of nearly 23,000 brand service terms in the Index for Q1 and Q2 combined.
Starbucks (Speed Sentiment Score: 82.9): Starbucks takes the lead in speed. The super caffeinated brand may have long lines, but consumer perception remains positive. And, just as a reminder: just because there’s a line doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a slow one. The fact that Starbucks ranks No. 1 may be a surprise to some, considering the brand has rapidly expanded its product offerings to include more food and pastries. In 2010, Starbucks implemented guidelines that limits staff to only make two beverages at a time to ensure efficiency and accuracy — and to maintain customer engagement, we assume. Starbucks claimed the new drink-making method would ensure beverage production at a more consistent pace. Psychologically, this is a great way to maintain speed of service perception, and exemplifies the importance of consistent employee training.
As reported in a Wall Street Journal article back in 2010, “Baristas say it can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute to make an espresso-based drink, depending on the complexity of the drink and the barista’s skill.”
Since that time, Starbucks has expanded its offerings, most of which are displayed in front of the counter for guests to browse while they wait in line. This may have some impact on speed perception because it gives guests something to do while they wait, which brings us to the next point. Starbucks has always been a forward-thinking company, including its incorporation of tech to streamline processes and create loyalty. In fact, it was one of the first food brands to create a Chief Digital Officer position (we’re looking at you, Adam Brotman) that focuses on how to implement technology and innovation in relation to building and maintaining social consumer relationships. A perfect example of this is Starbucks’ highly acclaimed app, which allows customers to sync up their Starbucks card to earn rewards, pay for their orders via mobile, and even view their transaction history (a quick, effective way to remember that drink you loved when you finally decided to try something new last month). Starbucks offers a robust experience for its customers, especially for a coffeehouse.
To get a more in-depth look at everything speed-of-service-related, make sure to download the full FREE Speed of Service report here.