Many brands have had to deal with how to evolve their customer base and maintain relevance. For us, it’s a tight QSR space. I’m sure those in other sectors feel the same way.

Jeremy Biser EVP Roy RogersJeremy Biser, Executive Vice President, Roy Rogers RestaurantsThe challenge comes in making existing customers happier, or more satisfied, while at the same time reaching out to new/potential customers that might not know who you are. You have to find a way to reach them and communicate in a way that connects to their value equation.

For a legacy brand, you cannot forget what made you successful in the first place. At the same time, you cannot get stuck in the past. You have to look to the future and differentiate. Customers today expect a frictionless experience. For an operator that can translate to questions such as, Do you have an effective app? Offer delivery? These are becoming table stakes. Many legacy brands have to catch up.

At Roy Rogers Restaurants, we will increase or enhance the restaurant’s relevance as our company continues down that path to differentiation. January marks the start of a consumer research effort to guide our direction.

At the store level, smart and sustainable growth comes down to looking at how things are set up now and for the future. For example, when talking about transparency, that translates to guests seeing the roast beef on the slicer. We opened the back of the house up a little bit to enable guests to see some of the kitchen. Historically that wasn’t the case but that difference in layout enhances the quality cues to the guest. When guests order a roast beef sandwich, they see the slicer come to life and slice their sandwich to order.

The challenge then becomes maintaining that benefit of transparency and authenticity while also improving speed and efficiency. A new prototype design allows us to optimize a new operational layout and test new equipment.

We won’t have a display kitchen but do want that element of transparency that communicates trust and that is so important today. We want to merchandise certain elements, such as our chicken, which now sits up front in a heated display case instead of in the back in a warmer.

We think customers today want that authenticity more than ever. We extend that even when things are not locally born. For example, in winter in Maryland, produce is not grown locally. The chalkboard on the Fixin’s Bar in the store still indicates where items did come from, even when local is not an option.

We’re also testing delivery in January and vetting third-party options now. Online ordering will also be a bigger push for us in 2019 and we already offer this option at 27 of our 52 restaurants. A key question to ask around delivery: How are we maximizing food quality at the time of production to extend the life of the product as we deliver it to guests?

Quality products and quality experiences for our guests are two things that helped our brand become successful over the past 50 years. Enhancing quality even further will help us achieve even more success in the future.