Needless to say, security is a critical part in quick service restaurants (QSRs). More and more, QSR operators turn to advanced security technologies to secure premises and deliver a better customer experience. This article takes a closer look.
Quick service restaurants are also known as fast food restaurants
. They encompass a range of well-known brands such as Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s, Subway, Wendy’s and Taco Bell. It’s safe to say that these restaurants are a part of the everyday life.
Yet QSRs are also faced with a set of challenges and pain points that call for more advanced security systems. “Restaurant operators often grapple with loss at the POS (due to both employee fraud and mistakes), vagrants, optimizing speed of service at drive-thru lines that are busier than ever, and, of course, the occasional unruly customer. To complicate matters, they typically rely on non-standard security infrastructure that creates maintenance challenges and training issues resulting in poor safety compliance. False alarms, security camera blind spots in expanded drive-thru areas and parking lots, and legacy access control systems also are some of the challenges QSRs need to overcome,” said Sean Foley, SVP of Customer Success at Interface Systems.
He added: “Dramatic changes in consumer demands and preferences are creating new opportunities for restaurant chains to recalibrate how they interact with guests and employees. At the same time, this means that QSRs are going through a massive IT, process, and business security overhaul to meet these new demands.”
So what will this overhaul entail, and what technologies will be hot for QSRs? Interface provided some insights as it shared its predictions for technology trends that will impact QSRs in 2023. These are summarized as follows.
The year cameras start to replace alarm systems
According to Foley, 2023 could be the year where AI-based cameras
are starting to replace the traditional alarm panel.
“Security cameras are commonplace in many quick-service restaurants. They are typically located in both discrete and prominent locations throughout the premises. The goal of this standard configuration is to solve traditional security issues such as deterring theft, offering forensic video evidence following an incident, and improving the safety of employees and patrons,” he said. “AI cameras take these legacy use cases to another level. AI-based video analytics can help restaurants identify anomalies promptly without requiring human monitoring at all times. Motion-triggered cameras that can identify human motion or vehicular motion can become the first line of defense to proactively identify threats.”
Further, AI cameras have applications beyond security. “No longer a ‘cost of doing business,’ security cameras and infrastructure can provide QSRs with a wealth of business and operations intelligence that informs and validates decisions from restaurant layout to customer service and significantly improves their bottom line,” Foley said. “Video analytics-enabled cameras can also help understand customer behavior inside restaurants and in all-important drive-thru areas. Insights such as checkout bottlenecks, table preferences, and speed of service can be accurately measured to optimize restaurant layout, seating arrangements, and ordering experience.”
The parking lot is the new dining room
According to Foley, the pandemic has changed consumers’ dining habits, and QSRs have embraced the challenge by offering their patrons greater convenience and flexibility to order and consume food outside of the traditional indoor dining room.
are increasingly being turned into massive transaction centers for restaurant chains with increased drive-thru capabilities and opportunities for diners to use the parking area to place orders from their phones and consume their food,” he said. “To support these new needs, drive-thru analytics, supported by AI, can extend the speed of service beyond a restaurant’s four walls.”
QSRs will invest in a better drive-thru experience
A defining characteristic of QSRs is the presence of drive-thru service, with major restaurant brands reporting significant drive-thru sales growth over the last couple of years. To provide a better drive-thru experience, QSRs are again turning to security technologies.
“The drive-thru has now become the new battleground for restaurants eager to attract customers, delight them with fast service and conveniently packed food, and get them to keep coming back for more. Restaurant brands are now investing in a suite of technology solutions and drive-thru concepts. Video feeds from the cameras in the drive-thru area can be analyzed by computer vision algorithms in real-time to improve sales, improve order accuracy, reduce chargeback claims, flag food safety issues, and track line dropouts before purchase,” Foley said.
Cloud-based physical security solutions will gain traction
can provide various benefits for QSRs. “The rapid shift to cloud-based physical solutions is a boon for multi-location restaurant chains as the cloud provides a centralized system to control physical devices or sensors such as cameras, intrusion devices, and access control devices from any connected device or smartphone app. When restaurant managers are reassigned to a different location, they are no longer forced to unlearn everything they know about managing security because they are dealing with a completely new set of access codes and devices,” Foley said.
Yet this is not to negate the value of on-premises and hybrid solutions. “QSRs need to partner with service providers who can optimize their technology infrastructure and advise on optimal cloud, on-premises or hybrid models based on security, cost, and storage considerations,” he said.