Restaurant Hacks: How Reaching Customers In-the-Moment Drives Higher KPIs

September 4, 2019 Courtland Nicholas

The restaurant industry is constantly growing to meet consumers’ needs, whether that is accomplished through fast service, health-conscious meals, or creating a unique dining experience. Consumers now have more options than ever when choosing where to eat, and restaurants have to stay competitive to protect market share 

But just as restaurants need to provide diners with dynamic dining experiences, it’s also important to cater to customers’ preferences when structuring customer engagement and loyalty strategies. According to Vibes 2019 US Mobile Consumer Report, “Brand loyalty still matters, as long as loyalty is rewarded. Consumers are 85% more likely to choose a store with a reward program over a store without a reward program”.  

By paying attention to the preferences of its customers and how that relates to their categorybrands can effectively reach them in-the-moment to drive higher KPIs, including average order spend, visits, and lifetime value.  

Let’s look at three different types of restaurants and how each can engage its customers. 

QSR (Quick-Service Restaurant) 

Example Restaurants: McDonald's, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s 

What Makes a QSR Unique? 

  • Limited menu 
  • Low prices (expect to spend less than $8) 

  • Drive-thru 

  • No table service 

  • Quick order turnaround 

  • High volume of carry-out orders 

What Do QSR Customers Care About? 

  • Efficient order process and experience 

  • Ability to order ahead 

  • Meal combos (entrée, side, and drink) and deals (value menu) 

  • Personalization 

How Can You Exceed Expectations with Mobile and Increase KPIs? 

  • Encourage customers to order ahead through your branded mobile appsend timely push notification messages during typical meal times to drive customer frequency and spend. 

  • Establish a branded restaurant short-code where customers can opt-in to receive SMS/MMS updates on new menu items, deals, and coupons; send SMS messages during peak dining hours that have a catchy call to action with an incentive to dine in 

FCR (Fast-Casual Restaurant) 

A fast-casual restaurant is a mix of casual dining and quick-service restaurants.  

Example Restaurants: Chipotle, Panera Bread, Potbelly, Roti Mediterranean 

What Makes an FCR Unique? 

  • No drive-thru 

  • Customers build their own meals 

  • Customers are encouraged to sit in a main dining area 

  • Prices are around $8-12 per person. 

  • Customizable meals 

What Do FCR Customers Care About? 

  • Rewards for being a loyal dining patron 

  • Seamless order experience 

  • Ability to build their own meal on app 

  • Fast service 

  • Personalization 

How Can You Exceed Expectations with Mobile and Increase KPIs? 



  • Provide an in-app loyalty solution where customers gain rewards that are spend, visit, or tier based. Paired with the ability to order ahead, build their own orders and find the nearest locations, customers will be motivated to gain rewards. This will ultimately help drive customer frequency, spend, and lifetime value.  

  • Automatically sign customers up to your restaurant loyalty program at POS when Apple Pay or Google Pay wallets are used. A branded loyalty pass will generate in their mobile wallet after purchase and display their loyalty status. Each time a customer pays with their wallet, the loyalty pass will update with a new status.  

  • To drive in-restaurant sales, FCRs can send relevant wallet notifications based on geo-location (If a customer is within a mile of the restaurant) or by time of day.

Casual Dining/Full Service 

casual dining restaurant is a sit-down environment where diners are waited on by a host and server.  

Example Restaurants: Chili’s, TGI Friday’s, Applebee’s, On The Border 

What Makes a Full-Service Restaurant Unique? 

  • Sit down environment 

  • Diners are waited on by a host and server 

  • Larger menu 

  • Three course meals 

  • Higher price per person ($12-17) 

What do FSR Customers Care About? 

  • A pleasant dining experience 

  • Many food options 

  • Personalization 

  • Timely service 

How Can You Exceed Expectations with Mobile and Increase KPIs? 

  • Full-serve restaurants should implement an SMS/MMS solution where dining customers can opt-in to a unique short code to receive updates on new menu items, free appetizers, and happy hour deals.  

  • A crisp high-quality MMS image of a new limited time offer (LTO) appetizer sent at just the right time, with a catchy call to action, will drive consumer interest and visits.

As you can see, the customers of each of these types of restaurants—QSR, FCR, and casual dining — want something slightly different. It’s up to you to ensure that the mobile offers you’re sending, as well as the channels you’re using, match what they are looking for. 

About the Author

Courtland Nicholas

Courtland Nicholas is a Product Marketing Intern at Vibes. His mission is to empower mobile marketers to question their current communication strategies, sharpen their content writing, and discover unique approaches to effectively engage their target audiences.

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