What’s trending with QSRs

These days, competition is fierce as QSRs compete with takeout and delivery, convenience stores, gas stations, and most recently, grocery stores. Some QSRs are taking steps to simplify service with kiosks and faster drive-thrus, connecting with customers by going greener, or delivering seasonal LTOs to get guests coming in. With so many options for diners to choose from, QSRs are under even more pressure to stand out and attract visits.

Wendy’s is testing its new Fresh AI, an automated voice chatbot for their drive-thru that works to increase accuracy and speed. So far, locations in Ohio are testing out the technology, but more locations are scheduled to try it in the future. According to Kevin Vasconi, chief information officer at Wendy’s, since the technology was introduced, “it’s gotten better and better rapidly,” with order accuracy rising to over 90 per cent in some cases. Stressing that the automation is considered an assistant by the company, rather than a human replacement, it allows staff to spend more time in other areas of the restaurant, increasing productivity while improving the drive-thru experience.

McDonald’s is upping their sustainability efforts, introducing new and improved recycling receptacles in Alberta and Quebec. The pilot program includes new recycling bins that help customers better sort their packaging material. Working to improve the recycling process, Gemma Hinksman, senior director, Canada Impact Team says, “At McDonald’s, we are committed to actively contributing to the well-being of the communities we operate in. This involves implementing both substantial and incremental changes – like these pilots – to help make meaningful progress towards achieving our shared environmental commitments.”

As far as menus go, many QSRs are attracting customers with timely LTOs and recurring favourites. Pizza Hut is adding variety to its $7 Deal Lovers’ menu, with two new flavours of cheese sticks, as well as chocolate doughnut bites. Dairy Queen has introduced its holiday Blizzard flavours, including frosted sugar cookie, candy cane chill, Oreo hot cocoa, and more. Taco Bell’s famous nacho fries have returned to the menu for the tenth time – a return staple that customers are happy to have back.

QSRs need to stand out to attract new guests in today’s crowded marketplace. By getting creative with their menus, bringing back time-tested favourites, connecting with what’s important to customers, and improving the guest experience, restaurants will be able to make their mark and maximize margins into 2024 and beyond.