Today’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) is at 100.4 — and anything above 100 frames an exciting growth cycle for restaurants. Contrary to any rumors, now is an optimal time to be in the restaurant business.

And to truly thrive, it’s important to understand what’s happening within the industry, where it’s headed, and how to capitalize on the opportunities that matter most to you. So we’ve identified 10 industry trends to guide you.

1. 90% of guests research a restaurant online before dining — more than for any other business type.

Having an online presence is important for every business, but it’s of paramount importance for restaurants. Creating compelling and mobile-friendly website with photos, a menu, and other relevant information are must-haves for restaurants looking to thrive.

Social media channels like Instagram and Facebook are major sources of information for many diners under 40 — and keeping those channels fresh is a great way to drive in more business and increase restaurant sales.

2. Most diners in the U.S. decide what to eat within 2 hours of their meal.

In our fast-moving world, the one thing everyone is short on is time. This explains why diners tend to turn to fast, ready-made options. It also rationalizes why most diners aren’t regularly planning ahead for their meals. With most U.S. customers deciding what to eat within 2 hours of their meals, getting your restaurant on their radar during that window — and being a go-to that they turn to when they want something reliable — is invaluable.

3. For 79% of diners, “taste” is the main factor in deciding where to eat.

Being aware of industry trends is important: it’s what will keep you relevant in a rapidly changing industry. But when it comes down to it, restaurants are for food — and taste is king. So while you work to prepare your restaurant for a bright future in a changing industry, definitely continue to serve the best food you can!

4. The average diner considers over 4 restaurants before deciding where to eat.

This statistic doesn’t just point to the competitive nature of the restaurant industry, it also highlights the need to be unique. Creating compelling reasons for customers to choose you over other options is half the battle — it’s the work you need to do before you sell anything. So, think about your local competition and what you can do to get customers in the door — or ordering online from home.

5. 60% of U.S. consumers — and 90% of Millennials — order delivery or takeout once a week.

When it comes to restaurant delivery, industry growth is even more imminent. In 2018, the global delivery market was worth $43 billion. By 2022, it’s expected to surpass $76 billion. So if you’re wondering how to increase restaurant sales and reach new customers, offering delivery may be your answer. Capitalizing on this trend can be extremely beneficial and lucrative, opening up a new world of opportunities — and incremental sales — for your restaurant. Whether you choose to do it in-house or through a third party delivery service like DoorDash, reap the benefits of a widely growing industry.

6. 67% of customers who’ve placed an order online visit restaurants more frequently than those who don’t.

Having an online delivery presence isn’t just a way to boost incremental sales and drive up profits, it’s also a way to boost your brand awareness. With an added-in marketing boost your restaurant can become top-of-mind for customers — before they’ve even been in your store. The added bonus? Once they order, they’ll be that much more likely to come in - and vise versa.

7. Digital channel sales are on track to reach 30% of total sales for U.S. restaurants alone by 2025.

Digital channel sales are on track to facilitate a significant portion of total restaurant sales in the U.S. in the coming years. This doesn’t necessarily mean just ordering delivery online — pickup orders can be placed through digital channels as well. Whether you create an ordering channel through your own website or partner with a third party service, having a digital presence will help you capitalize on the likelihood that potential diners are already browsing digital channels when their tummies start to growl.

8. 70% of restaurant guests are looking for healthy restaurant menu options.

While in recent years, health food has become somewhat of its own food category, it’s also an aspect of any type of cuisine. All fares have some sort of lighter option — and often they’re no less delicious. So, this doesn’t mean you have to open a strictly vegan salad bar or a smoothie bowl cafe, but it is in your interest to have at least a couple of healthy options on your menu. This way, even if they’re not the most frequently ordered items, you don’t alienate any potential customers.

9. For 63% of diners, “discounts and promotions” on new technologies such as mobile are important.

While offering discounts and promotions on every digital channel sale or advertisement isn’t sustainable, they do carry a certain sway with customers. So, finding ways to strategically incorporate promotional offers in ways that don’t compromise your profits — but actually boost them in the long run — is key.

10. Mobile ordering apps, like DoorDash, will generate $38 billion in revenue in 2020.

Partnering with a third-party delivery service like DoorDash is a great way to tap into the rapidly growing food delivery industry, and drive incremental sales for your business. DoorDash reaches 80% of the US population and also has a growing presence in Canada and Australia — allowing you to reach the most potential customers as possible. Learn more today.

For all things financial, check out our restaurant university guide, The 2nd Course: Financing Your Restaurant and Projecting Profits, and brush up on pro-tips before launching your business.

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Suzanne Tran
Growth Marketing Lead

Suzanne Tran is the Head of B2B Growth Marketing at DoorDash where she works to support small to large-scale merchants in growing their business via partnership with DoorDash. Previously, she helped build and grow marketing departments at B2B and B2C companies including LinkedIn, IBM, RetailNext and more. In her free time, you can find her at home engaging in arts and crafts with her children while enjoying delicious DoorDash-delivered vietnamese food.