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With so much going on within the food industry, there are a number of challenges restaurants should watch out for. These are issues that directly impact the flow of customers who dine in, as well as those who place takeout orders, or get meals delivered.

But what are these challenges and how can you stop them from eating away at your restaurant’s profits? We’re sharing four challenges you need to be aware of, plus a few simple tips to help you combat them.

1. The Rise of Meal Kits

It should come as no surprise that meal kits are taking over! There are so many companies providing customers with easy ways to create delicious meals at home. You may already be familiar with the “big guys”, such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. However, there are hundreds of more popular options, such as Sun Basket, growing in popularity every single day.

Not only is the industry growing, but customers now have more options. They can choose between getting fresh ingredients and a recipe to make their meals or they can get pre-made meals that simply need to be heated up. It truly is convenience at its finest, but it’s also encouraging people to eat more of their meals at home.

That means restaurants may start seeing a decline in customers during the week and less delivery or takeout orders, if they don’t make plans to improve (or even start) their delivery service.

Despite the fact that meal kits are convenient for consumers around the country, there’s definitely the potential that it could hurt a restaurant’s bottom line. But since customers are obviously searching for quick and easy meals for weeknight dinners, providing options and offering speedy delivery is the only way to compete.

2. Private Chefs That Deliver Are Becoming More Affordable

For some people, they dream of having a private chef who can prepare meals for them. It allows them to eat healthy, delicious meals without ever having to lift a finger. Plus, they get the quality that a professional chef can deliver.

While this was once a luxury that was deemed to be for the wealthy, having a private chef has actually become a lot more affordable in recent years with the rise of services like TaskRabbit. Depending on where you live, there’s a good chance you can find your very own personal chef who can cook meals and deliver them all for an affordable rate.

As a restaurant owner, this is a trend you’re going to want to keep an eye on. Instead of customers dining out or getting takeout, they’re turning to private chefs instead. Why? It certainly doesn’t have to do with price anymore. According to this ABC News article, private chefs often charge a flat rate that includes ingredients, meal prep, cooking, and even clean-up. The total cost usually ranges from $15 to $20 per person. That’s not far off from what you’d spend sitting down at a restaurant (including tip). Customers are starting to choose private chefs more because of conveniences — they never have to leave the comfort of their own home. Plus, they’re more likely to have the ability to customize meals to their liking or dietary preferences (e.g. gluten-free, keto, paleo).

Restaurants can still compete! With a superb menu, friendly staff, and the right incentive to dine in with you, restaurants still stand a chance at beating out the private chefs. This is because restaurants have something that private chefs cannot compete with — creating a fun, enjoyable, and relaxing atmosphere. After all, beyond the food, most people dine at a restaurant because they enjoy the experience.

3. Grocery Delivery

Another challenge that’s on the rise is the convenience of grocery delivery. While this may not seem like a challenge at the moment, think about it… So many people despise the chore that is grocery shopping. Driving to the store, browsing the aisles, then waiting to get through long checkout lines… It takes hours out of the week and often leads people to succumbing to ordering takeout or going out to a restaurant to eat when they don’t feel like grocery shopping.

Therefore, when grocery shopping is made easier through an automated delivery service, people are much more inclined to eat in regularly.

While it’s great to see more people enjoying home cooked meals, it leaves restaurants fighting for a customer’s attention. However, if you’re providing a great delivery service that allows customers to enjoy their meals at home, you stand a much better chance of keeping their business.

4. Increasing Popularity of Diets That Restrict Eating

There are an incredible amount of popular diets right now. In fact, there are so many that it can be hard to keep up with all of them. They include ones such as keto, paleo, Whole30, and even intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting means that the person has dedicated times for eating and not eating throughout the day as a way to encourage weight loss.

How does this pose a problem for restaurants, you ask? With these restrictive diets, it prevents people from eating out as often as they might have otherwise. Instead, they’re staying home and preparing meals themselves because they need to customize the dishes they eat based on the diet they’re following. Or, they’re ordering specialty meal kits based on their diet (e.g. keto or paleo meal kit).

Unfortunately, many restaurants don’t have the ability to fully customize meals based on a customer’s needs. However, they can make things easier by sharing as much nutritional information as possible as well as the full ingredients list for dishes on their website and in the restaurant. This will make it easier for customers to find meals they can order while staying on their diet.

While having this information available for customers is helpful for those following a strict diet to lose weight, it’s also helpful for those following a diet out of medical necessity. Diets such as “gluten-free” and “dairy-free” are usually followed due to the extreme physical reactions that certain ingredients in foods cause. As a restaurant owner, it’s important to accommodate these customers the best you can.

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