Panera Bread is in the middle of a reinvention.
The fast-casual brand, which calls its makeover “Panera 2.0,” is making several key changes to attract more customers and fend off mounting competition.
The company has converted 43 of its 1,800 restaurants so far.
Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich recently told analysts Panera Bread will be different in the future.
Here are the major changes.
1. Offering rapid pick-up.
Soon, Panera Bread customers will be able to order their food on the mobile app and pick it up at a designated counter without waiting in line. This will make the restaurant chain a more appealing lunch option for people who are in a hurry.
The brand is also in the process of building kiosks to input customer orders.
2. Creating a new position.
Panera Bread is hiring new associates it calls “expos.” These people will stand on the customers’ side of the counter to check orders for accuracy. Shaich says that this is necessary because half of Panera Bread orders are customised in some way.
The new position creates a necessary liaison between the online app and customers.
3. Delivering to your table.
The Panera 2.0 cafes offer food delivery to tables.
“Customers can just go and sit down after ordering, avoiding the mosh pit all together,” Shaich explained to investors. “This higher-quality experience differentiates Panera from fast food and even much of fast-casual. We think it is a more polished version of fast-casual.”
4. Building catering centres.
Catering makes up about 8% of Panera’s current business, and is continually expanding. The company is beginning to build special centres for distributing catering orders.
Currently, the catering orders are assembled in restaurants.
Shaich says this model benefits restaurants because it allows managers to spend more time interacting with customers and identifying problems.
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