FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Restaurant patrons overwhelmingly say they want automatic doors
Blog 6, October 2021
Automation is king in the foodservice realm. The industry has been hit particularly hard by COVID-related employment shortages in the last two years, and has responded by furthering its efforts to do more with less. Finding innovative ways for work crews to use technology and machines to maximize productivity has been a hallmark of the industry, which operates under razor-thin margins and is always seeking new ways to squeeze out more profits.
So why are we talking about foodservice when this is a blog about automatic doors? Because the foodservice industry’s passion for automation has, so far, not extended to its doorways. Despite the growing trend toward making in-person dining experiences as touchless as possible, many restaurants have been slow to embrace the benefits of automatic doors. But it could be a costly decision, because flood of studies and statistics paint a clear picture of restaurant patrons’ desire for automatic doors.
Most dramatically, a study in Restaurant Business Online conducted by Magid research consultancy found that 64% of respondents would be influenced to visit a restaurant based on whether it had automatic doors.1
Then a separate survey from the National Restaurant Association revealed a trove of information about how COVID has impacted diners’ behavior. Here are some stats to chew on: 6 in 10 adults changed their restaurant use due to the rise in the Delta variant, 19% of adults said they completely stopped going out to restaurants, and 37% of adults said they ordered delivery or takeout instead of dining in a restaurant.2
Next consider how the public viewed automatic doors even before a pandemic. A comprehensive survey conducted by the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (AAADM) revealed that respondents viewed the presence of automatic doors as a gauge of how much building owners and businesses cared about them. Plus, a staggering 98.9 percent of consumers who expressed a preference between automatic and manual doors prefer automatic doors.
Clearly, the need to project an image of taking patron health seriously has never been stronger. Automatic doors signal to the public that restaurant operators understand their concerns. It puts them at ease from the start and prepares them for a positive experience.
Many restaurants responded to virus threats by having all employees wear masks, limiting store occupancy, and by offering carryout or contactless pickup/delivery. But what is probably the most-touched surface in any business? The door handle.
Automatic doors are an effective way to not only address concerns about surface germs, but to clearly signal that an establishment is taking health and safety concerns seriously. There are also a variety of design options to fit virtually any architectural style or restaurant concept. With public opinion galvanizing, the question becomes whether a restaurant can afford to be without them.