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Quick Service Restaurant Success Factors

Kevin Mason, Arkansas Tech University Stephen Jones, Arkansas Tech University Mike Benefield, Arkansas Tech University Jim Walton, Arkansas Tech University

Acknowledgements: The authors express appreciation to Brent Armstrong, Hannah Goetz and Elliott Brown, undergraduate students, who collected the data and provided analysis support for this project.


Quick Service Restaurant Success Factors
Abstract: The quick service (aka, fast food) restaurant industry is significant and growing aspect of the overall restaurant industry. For long-term success quick service restaurants must be perceived as offering sufficient value for consumers. To do this, restaurants must first determine what consumers’ value in a quick service restaurant experience. As such, this research study explores consumers’ service quality preferences in the quick service restaurant industry. Results of this research highlight critical factors which help to determine the expectations that consumers have about the quick service restaurant industry and their perceptions of service quality from a dining experience. Based upon university students’ quick service experiences the results found in this study indicated that consumers are highly price sensitive, but also place high importance on speed of service, location, quality of food, and cleanliness. A discussion is provided for how these results can be used to develop effective marketing strategies for quick service restaurants.

Keywords: Consumer Perceptions, Fast Food, Quick Service Restaurants


Quick Service Restaurant Success Factors
Introduction The quick service industry was chosen as the focus of this research because of its significance in the American economy. In both 2002 and 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau (2007) reported that quick service (fast food) restaurants accounted for about 35% of all restaurant sales in the United States and that sales grew almost 30% for the quick service restaurant industry while the number of establishments for the industry surpassed the 200,000 mark. In 2007, the industry’s sales surpassed the $150 billion mark, and more than three million people were employed in the industry (U.S. Census Bureau 2007). The quick service restaurant industry has grown to a point that there are now about 67 fast food restaurants for every 100,000 people in the U.S. In one study (Gordon & Sterrett 1999), it was estimated that between 30 and 50 percent of all restaurants in the U.S. were of the quick service restaurant variety and that the number varied regionally. Usage among average quick service restaurant consumers was reported in 2006 to be at over 17 visits per month and among heavy use consumers to be nearly one visit per day (Clarke 2006). According to Scholsser (2001) in 1970, Americans spent about six billion on fast food; in 2010, it is estimated that Americans spent more than $130 billion (Synder & Dillow 2011). Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars (Scholesser 2001). The quick service restaurant industry was designed around the concept of providing fast and convenience dining experiences at a relatively low cost. A significant marketing segment for the quick service restaurant industry is college age students, 18 to 24 years of age (Brandweek 1995). Synder & Dillow (2011) note that between 1999 and 2009, the number of 18- to 24-year-olds increased from 26.7 million to 30.4 million, an increase of 14 percent, and the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college rose from 36 percent in 1999 to 41 percent in 2009 (Synder & Dillow 2011). College age students often face issues with time management, striving to find balance between school, work, and social life. College age students often face financial and time constraints (Pilon 2009). The quick service restaurant industry has been able to capitalize on...
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