President’s Column: Social Media and the New Business Model

President’s Column: Social Media and the New Business Model

By Anthony Anton

2016 is going to be a year where the current restaurant model will be shattered and rebuilt due to the political policies that are creating a new reality. Something we all should consider when creating a new business model is how impactful social media will be.

Millennials use social media to connect with others and share their lives. Most of them use it daily. This same community has a vastly different approach to our industry than those retiring. Eating away from home is no longer viewed as a luxury, but rather as a necessity, especially for busy families. You can expect the number of times a person eats out per week to continue to grow substantially. That means that customers will be looking for different things from their local restaurant.

Take a small peek at the latest consumer survey information from the talented folks on the National Restaurant Association’s research team.

It’s funny for me, but as someone in his forties with a young family, I’m in between both groups, both in age and usage. Even though I depend on tech and social media, I can’t fathom using it twice as much as I do, like the generation after me does.

Just this week my 14-year old showed me an Instagram pic and comment from one of his friends complaining in real time that his food was “taking forever” at a nearby restaurant. And, there were 18 other unkind comments from his middle school classmates about the location.

“Dad, isn’t this place a member?” asked my son.

“Yes,” I replied.

Then with his phone at the ready, he asked, “O.K., what do you want me to say back?”

This recent real-life moment fully illustrated to me that our new business model must find a way to effectively engage, embrace and utilize instant feedback and operationally manage the social media world. It is going to grow and have three times the impact on your business than is does today.

Hopefully, this edition gets you thinking about how to include this element in your new business model as you begin to rebuild it. If you start now, you’ll be ready by the time my 14-year old and all his middle-school buddies become income earners and dining decision makers.

(Source: Washington Restaurant & Lodging Magazine, April 2016)