== Food-to-go opportunity knocks ==

== By Georgina Wild, marketing manager for him! which analyses consumer behaviour and develops action plans for over 100 retail clients

Each year him! speaks to thousands of customers while they’re eating and drinking at food-to-go outlets such as Greggs, Pret A Manger and Subway, to better understand what is driving them to use these outlets. What we’ve found is that food-to-go outlets have some catching up to do with their high street competitors. him!’s food-to-go tracking programme asks customers to rate the outlets out of 10 (1 being poor and 10 being great), against a number of fundamental operational criteria. As you will see from the table below, the ratings given by customers are in the 7s; these customer ratings are the lowest that we’ve received when compared to coffee chains and pubs. So there is still plenty of work to be done, especially as customers have such a huge choice of retail outlets to visit for food-to-go items. Our research shows that the most important things to get right to make customers happy are: 1. providing a range of freshly made food; 2. speed of service/short queues; 3. good product availability. It is critical that all food-to-go businesses, including independent catering outlets, prioritise and deliver against these. One big opportunity is that, currently, customers do not rate the choice of cold drinks very highly (7.5 out of 10), meaning you will be losing sales. Drinks are a critical part of the offer and often provide a high margin. They should be just as important as the food; customers want the drink to go with their meal and they should be offered one with every order. ==