Buffalo Wild Wings, Darden, Dunkin Brands, McDonalds, and Wendys Go Digital

Restaurants embrace high tech.

Apr 13, 2014 at 9:00AM

The current buzz in the restaurant industry—technology. Restaurant chains Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD), Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI), Dunkin Brands (NASDAQ:DNKN), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), and Wendy's (NASDAQ:WEN) are all adopting technologies such as mobile payment apps, online ordering, table top ordering and payment, and customer feedback platforms in an effort to improve the customer experience. Happy customers translate into increased top and bottom line growth improving your chances for stock price appreciation and dividend increases. These stories provide insight that may help you make investment decisions regarding these companies.

Tablets at your table
Restaurants under competitive pressure need to find ways to improve traffic flow, reduce costs, and improve the customer experience. Tablets represent a possible way to do this by providing games, company exclusive online content, and a way to conveniently order freeing up time for restaurant staff. Buffalo Wild Wings  and Darden Restaurants  plan to roll out table top tablets in their chains first in a test phase and then chain wide if successful, according to Nation's Restaurant News. Interestingly, Buffalo Wild Wings wants to expand on its "B-Dubs TV proprietary network for sports programming" by bringing in local sports content such as high school sports in an effort to stay in touch with its community. 

Buffalo Wild Wings grew its revenue an impressive 12% in the most recent quarter. Its same restaurant sales grew 5.2% at company owned locations and 3.1% at its franchised locations during that time frame.  Buffalo Wild Wings definitely wants to avoid complacency. Darden Restaurants can use all the help it can get. In its most recent quarter Darden saw its overall sales decline 1.1% while same restaurant sales declined 5.6% for Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and LongHorn Steakhouse and 0.7% for its specialty segment. 

The digital experience


Source: Flickr-Chris Mali

Many restaurants want to improve digital experiences for customers. Mobile payment apps have dominated restaurant industry news recently. However, for some people the mobile app experience may not live up to expectations. The editor of Nation's Restaurant News, Ron Ruggless, gives a bittersweet account that discusses the difficulty of finding the Wendy's mobile app in his app store, setting up an account, and selecting a prepaid amount. Also, he described the inconvenience of setting up a six digit number to give the Wendy's cashier. He goes on to talk about how the number expires in five minutes which happened while the cashier and his manager tried to figure out how to ring up the app payment. 

Conversations ring loud in the media with restaurants such as Buffalo Wild Wings  and Darden Restaurants  wanting to introduce online ordering to their chains. However, the most notable online ordering introduction in the media conversation comes from Dunkin Brands' Baskin-Robbins . As of April 1, its customers can order ice cream cakes, according to the Wall Street Journal, just like ordering pizza. Baskin-Robbins hopes this will help differentiate the company and aid in its turn around. Testing proved that it can boost traffic the Wall Street Journal reports.

Staying in touch with customers
Darden Restaurants  and Buffalo Wild Wings  recently stepped up data gathering. As a result, Buffalo Wild Wings wants to introduce a digital loyalty program reports Nation's Restaurant News. Darden intends on using its data to better predict consumer consumption patterns. Also, McDonald's partnered up with Service Management Group or (SMG) to arrange for a customer feedback platform in McDonald's U.S. restaurant group according to SMG's press release. Customers can provide real-time feedback via a website. McDonald's can hopefully use the data to improve the customer experience .

Looking ahead
These new digital initiatives should help continue the growth momentum of fast growing chains such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Baskin-Robbins. Hopefully, data gathering will help Darden understand what it's doing wrong specifically in its struggling Olive Garden segment. The same goes for McDonald's partnership with Service Management Group. I agree with Ron Ruggless's conclusion that Wendy's mobile app will enjoy higher adoption from the younger demographic.  Only time will tell if it will boost traffic for Wendy's overall.

6 stock picks poised for incredible growth
They said it couldn't be done. But David Gardner has proved them wrong time, and time, and time again with stock returns like 926%, 2,239%, and 4,371%. In fact, just recently one of his favorite stocks became a 100-bagger. And he's ready to do it again. You can uncover his scientific approach to crushing the market and his carefully chosen six picks for ultimate growth instantly, because he's making this premium report free for you today. Click here now for access.

William Bias owns shares of McDonald's. The Motley Fool recommends Buffalo Wild Wings and McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings and McDonald's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information