Here’s what restaurant customers want most from your eatery

By Rieva Lesonsky

A few weeks ago we talked about who’s spending money going to restaurants. This week, let’s discuss where they are (and aren’t) eating.

A survey from AlixPartners reported in Nation’s Restaurant News says consumers who frequently dine at fast food and fast-casual restaurants are planning to spend less in those establishments because they want to spend their money elsewhere. Of those surveyed who plan to cut back on eating out, half say they want to save money—and 32 percent of those are saving so they can travel.

Baby boomers are saving for retirement, while Millennials want to spend money on “personal services,” such as getting their hair and nails done, their clothes dry cleaned and their houses cleaned.

Another reason given for cutting back on eating out: Consumers want to eat healthier. Consider adding healthier options to your menus to attract these diners.

Consumers say they often choose to go to a particular restaurant because it offers free Wi-Fi—so if you own a restaurant, you should strongly consider offering that. Loyalty programs, on the other hand, have a minimal effect on driving diners to a specific eatery.

Another way you can attract customers to your restaurant is by offering delivery. Half of Millennials say they’re most interested in scheduling delivery, while Baby Boomers prefer traditional “spur-of-the-moment” delivery. Another reason restaurant owners should jump on the delivery wagon: Many of the consumers surveyed regularly order delivery from the same restaurants due to a “lack of good delivery options near me.”

If you do decide to add delivery, 71 percent of those surveyed say they’re rather get delivery directly from the restaurant—only 8 percent prefer it from a third-party intermediary. The top two factors in ordering delivery are food quality and price.