The fast-casual and quick-service restaurant industries have changed dramatically in the three years since the start of the COVID pandemic. With the shift to drive-thru and delivery when restaurants were closed to the subsequent reopening of on-premise dining and takeout, restaurants have had to pivot multiple times over the past few years. However, it's increasingly looking like customers are preferring to interact with restaurants in multiple ways instead of any one journey.

For example, consumers drove the U.S. food delivery market to $26.1 billion in sales in 2022. But, on-premise dining and takeout has recently seen double-digit month-over-month growth of 30 percent and 20 percent respectively. And a study by the National Restaurant Association found that 84 percent of consumers say going out to eat with family and friends is a better use of their leisure time than cooking and cleaning up after a meal.

This shift toward the omnichannel guest journey is not only redefining the customer experience, but it is also redefining what facilities mean for this experience. From exterior drive-thrus to takeout windows to on-premise dining, guests are interacting with your facilities in multiple ways. Maintaining your facilities now requires addressing all areas of your location and is now a critical component of your brand strategy.

When developing your facilities maintenance and experience strategy, these are the top three areas that customers pay attention to when they go to a restaurant.  

Safety and sanitation  

A safe, clean environment is the always the first area customers notice about a restaurant. Unusable or unclean bathrooms, broken light fixtures, and malfunctioning food prep equipment create hazardous conditions for employees and guests. Customers want to know that they are eating in a safe and sanitary space. Implementing an emergency and reactive maintenance strategy can help ensure that these issues are resolved before they start to negatively impact the customer experience. Nearly 75 percent of customers will not visit or patronize a restaurant that has negative reviews about its cleanliness.

Inside ambiance

Everything from wall color to the booths and tables to lighting impacts the guest experience. One of the most significant aspects of the inside of the restaurant that people notice is the flooring. Dirty and damaged floors and carpets communicate a lack of care and investment into the facility. And in the new omnichannel environment, all areas need to be well maintained and regularly cleaned.

HVAC is also a critical component for restaurants both in terms of keeping customers comfortable but also in reducing unwanted smells and food particles. Balancing back of house and front of house air pressures is critical in maintaining equilibrium throughout a space. And now with potentially more points of entry, such as a dedicated takeout space, this becomes increasingly more challenging to balance.

Regular maintenance to floors, HVAC, and other areas positively impacts the customer and brand experience.

Exterior maintenance and curb appeal

The rise of curbside pickup and drive-thru operations because the pandemic has only continued to emphasize the importance of exterior facilities and maintenance. Everything from proper lighting to cleaned and cleared parking lots to landscaping around drive-thru lanes play an important part now in reinforcing the brand experience and contributing to the customer journey in this omnichannel model. Customers expect certain brand standards and want to feel safe while waiting for their orders. Maintaining landscaping can be a deciding factor in whether or not a customer will enter a restaurant. Establishing regular landscaping services as well as snow removal services if needed along with regular maintenance can encourage customers to spend and engage more with the space.  

Creating Consistency Across Multiple Locations 

Managing several sites can be tricky when factoring the omnichannel journey and multiple points of potential failure within a restaurant’s facilities program. A centralized facilities maintenance service can make sure that each location has the ability to request repairs and schedule preventative maintenance.

Creating a pleasing omnichannel journey brings more success by providing customers with the best experience possible to encourage return business. Make sure to use the tactics when maintaining facilities: 

  • Reactive maintenance
  • Preventative maintenance  
  • Asset management 
  • Landscaping
  • Snow and ice management 
  • Capital projects

The SMS Assist advantage

With SMS Assist, you can manage everything with your facilities on our cloud-based service: One by SMS Assist. This makes it simple to connect each location on the platform while also reducing trips by by bundling work orders together and balancing team workloads to assign work appropriately. This eliminates the possibility of reactive maintenance dominating your facilities management plan, allowing you to tackle problems ahead of time.

Partnering with a trusted integrated services provider will help you successfully manage your facilities for an omnichannel experience while eliminating the stress of managing all components for every location, leaving you time to focus on what is important: the customer.

Want to learn more about how SMS Assist can help with your maintenance and customer journey? Get in touch with us at or request a demo.

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