Based on newly released polling data for the food industry, it turns out that the shortest way to Americans' hearts may indeed be through their stomachs.
Two-thirds of U.S. consumers hold positive opinions of the nation's restaurants, according to a recent survey conducted by Gallup. Only 7 percent view the industry in a negative light. The only industry that was viewed nearly as high was the computer sector, with 66 percent satisfied and 13 percent dissatisfied.
Consistently ranked in top 10
This is hardly the first time that restaurateurs have been highly ranked by the consumer public. Since 2001, in fact – when Gallup started the annual poll – the restaurant industry has ranked among the top 10 industries.
"Restaurants are the beloved cornerstones of communities across America," said Dawn Sweeney, National Restaurant Association president and CEO. "America's 1 million restaurants provide opportunity to 14 million Americans and have become an essential part of our everyday lives."
In separate polling also done by the food industry's leading trade association, 9 in 10 say that buying food from eateries is one of their favorite day-to-day enjoyments, with 20 percent describing it as "an essential part of their lifestyle." Some of this may lie in the fact that many Americans have worked in the food industry at some point, whether loading dishes in the kitchen or tending to grills and ovens on "the line."
Never wanting to rest on their laurels, professionals within the industry are eager to continue the positive trend, both for patrons and employees. One of the ways they hope to do this is by simplifying how equipment and technology expedite service and delivery.
Improving technology may further improve sentiment
In another survey also done by the National Restaurant Association, 80 percent of operators agreed that technology has helped the industry increase sales. Additionally, 4 in 5 believed technology improved productivity and provided a competitive advantage to other lines of work.
At the same time, there's still room for improvement. Over 40 percent of independent restaurateurs felt that the technology at their dining establishments lagged, a sentiment shared by approximately the same rate of table service restaurateurs.
Annika Stensson, the National Restaurant Association's director of research communications, said that technology can be a double-edged sword when it's not instituted properly.
"About 4 in 5 restaurant operators agree that technology can help make restaurants more productive, increase sales and provide a competitive advantage," Stensson explained. "However, half say it also makes the customer experience more complicated. This research highlights the importance that user-friendly, streamlined tech solutions play in creating an innovative restaurant environment and that closing this divide will be a priority for the industry going forward."
Consumer-facing technology, like self-service kiosks, may be the antidote, but the survey showed cost considerations can often be obstacles. Nearly two-thirds of respondents in the poll said that the expense of implementation sometimes served as an impediment to simplifying the service process. This is one of the many reasons why business owners take advantage of equipment financing.
Hospitality and restaurant industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, a nationwide provider of commercial lending solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Marlin's equipment financing and loan products are offered directly to businesses, and through third party vendor programs, which include manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.