Rebecca Viani, Director of International Development at Darden International, shares advice for franchisees
Published 05 February 2020
As Director of Development for Darden International – parent company to restaurant brands: Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Yard House, Capital Grille and Eddie V’s - Rebecca Viani handles the franchise expansion and development for EMEA and Southeast Asia. Join Rebecca at GRIF to learn more about restaurant franchising.
GRIF: What are the key trends transforming the current restaurant investment landscape and how?
REBECCA: Technology is evolving at a rapid pace worldwide, and the restaurant industry is no exception. The fast food sector has shown its transformation as kiosks have come into play, mobile ordering apps have launched and conveyor systems are being adopted for kitchen-to-counter transport. The ongoing implementation of smart kitchen equipment for food prep, cooking and employee training will become more prominent as restaurateurs continue to seek solutions to improve operational efficiencies. Most of the investors I speak to today are on the lookout for scalability, and technology is a key driver for accomplishing flexible scaling and maximizing efficiencies and ROI.
GRIF: How is the future of the restaurant industry in Europe going to be different from what it is today?
REBECCA: Data will officially be king. Depending on who you speak to now, data is already king, but not all operators are leveraging data collection and analysis. Data collection is key to understanding our guests, their behavior and their preferences and allows us to build more efficient marketing programs, loyalty programs, restaurant menus and designs that will keep our target markets engaged and track changing customer preferences. For those who are really taking advantage of data and its benefits, they are able to understand anything from how seating furniture and background music affect table turn time to what areas of their waiting line are affecting maximum number of tickets per hour and how to improve that number. We are seeing this trend grow, and, where some operators consider it an added extra, data collection will become a “must” for all.
GRIF: Tell us a little bit about what you look forward to discussing at GRIF 2020?
REBECCA: I am looking forward to discussing restaurant franchising, how the strategy has developed in Europe and to meeting restauranteurs and investors who are interested in acquiring new brands.
GRIF: What advice would you give to operators in restaurant sector who are interested in acquiring a franchise?
REBECCA: When working with the right franchisor, the franchising model can prove quite lucrative for investors. Just as the franchisor needs to vet its potential franchisees, the franchisees should do the same and ensure that they have access to the advantages that franchising offers – brand equity, established supply chain (or the team to help you do it), scalability, franchisor’s willingness to adapt, a dedicated and accessible support team and a strong training program that includes the resources for you, as a franchisee, to establish certified training programs in your own market.
GRIF: How do you benefit from being a part of GRIF?
REBECCA: This year will be my 4th consecutive year attending GRIF. From the culinary tours that give attendees direct insight into market trends, to the well-rounded agenda and an ideal attendee count that really allows for maximizing networking, I have always found great value in attending. When you have so many like-minded, high caliber professionals in an environment that encourages candid conversations and real thought, it’s a recipe for success.
GRIF: What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s event?
REBECCA: Seeing industry colleagues and making new connections.