Article by Jaimi St. John, Vice President of Food Experience, Nextbite
Slowly but surely, we succeed? With all due respect to Aesop “The Tortoise and the Hare,” slow and steady is the fastest way to ensure you get left behind in a digitally driven restaurant industry that is changing faster than ever. Slow and steady is great for small, incremental gains, but it can’t create breakthrough products, define your brand, or take your business to the front of the pack. To win in the restaurant industry today, we must focus on reducing time to market.
Early in my career, I worked in corporate innovation with Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread, where the innovation cycle and time to market (TTM) were marked on a timeline , often over several years, and followed a traditional innovation funnel and stage gate process. . At the time, it worked quite well and the results for both chains were clearly impressive, but in today’s digital restaurant industry, things are changing fast and innovation drives new dynamic cycles of success. .
Fueled by what I had learned in chains, but passionate about pushing boundaries and going faster, I turned to building culinary innovation teams and systems for food-focused startups. an objective. Reducing time to market can increase the chances of success in a crowded space, especially when paired with a genuine purpose and mission for positive impact. This core belief is one of the reasons I was drawn to Nextbite to lead its exciting and growing culinary experiences team.
Nextbite aims to help existing restaurants leverage underutilized kitchens and parts of the day to quickly and agility enter the offsite dining explosion and reap the benefits. The TTM principle is fundamental to Nextbite’s approach and is reinforced by the success of its restaurant partners, from small local restaurants to larger multi-units and businesses. A company’s ability to reduce the time to market of innovation is the main success factor.
Why the TTM matters
There are over 800,000 restaurants in the United States, and we believe that 90% of them have excess capacity in their kitchens during different times of the day. At Nextbite, we combine these underutilized kitchen operators with in-demand brands, along with a range of solutions including data-driven marketing, distribution channel and suite of technology services and solutions. Building and launching brands that consumers crave, but are executable for operators in today’s economic climate, requires an unwavering commitment to time-to-market innovation.
This is not only important for the restaurant sector. A 2020 Navigator survey revealed how the mindset of business leaders has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the study, only 17% cited shareholder return as a determinant of future success. Their new benchmarks were innovation (49%), agility (47%) and speed to market (40%). Source
3 ways to decrease TTM
- Track revenue goals: Ensuring that you assign and track revenue targets for your innovation aspirations will foster accountability and ensure cross-functional involvement and engagement. This effort requires everyone to be on deck – it will reduce the TTM and help you quickly know what works and what doesn’t.
- Pilot intelligently and iterate: Use pilot markets to launch and iterate quickly while keeping the risk to an acceptable level for your organization. Rapid prototyping before launch, followed by pilot iteration, will reduce speed to market and ensure operational and consumer success.
- Take advantage of outsourcing: Parts or all of the innovation cycle and the TTM process can be outsourced to experts dedicated to this work. Outsourcing to a team of experts will reduce TMM and allow you to focus on your core business. Nextbite offers restaurateurs an established ecosystem of trusted partners to work with to develop and launch the right virtual concepts that fit a certain slice of the day, type of cuisine or demographic. Working the outsourcing model is a smart way to speed up the TTM.
Nextbite approach to TTM
At Nextbite, we’re obsessed with data and insights to help us understand the detailed nuances of today’s offsite dining and create the trendiest menu concepts and brands.
In terms of TTM, we engage and invest heavily in rapid prototyping in our innovation test kitchen. The team combines speed and urgency, while maintaining meticulous rigor on quality, taste, deliverability and presentation. A recent partnership with IHOP is a great example of this, as our teams collaborated to quickly develop and pilot two delicious, trending virtual restaurant brands. We have extended the use of the kitchen using their pantry ingredients to develop the concepts and this is easily achieved through IHOP’s existing restaurant base.
Finally, the success of improving TTM depends on the corporate and team culture in place. At Nextbite, we support and drive the TTM goals by fostering a creative, entrepreneurial, learning spirit and an enterprise-wide commitment to agility and flexibility. The good news for restaurants working with Nextbite is that we tick all the boxes for TTM so you can adopt and capitalize on the benefits that fit your particular business – Nextbite will do the rest.
Cutting time to market isn’t easy, but it’s paying off with increased innovation driving virtual menus for today’s market. The race we win will result in more satisfied consumers and a thriving restaurant business overall.
For restaurants looking to unlock the full capacity of their kitchen with Nextbite, while adding an additional low-cost revenue stream, more information can be found online at their website.
Jaimi St. John, Vice President of Culinary Experience, Nextbite: As Vice President of Food Experience for Nextbite, a leader and innovator in virtual restaurants, Jaimi leads Nextbite’s culinary strategic vision, partnering with its brand development teams to create new delivery menus uniquely. Jaimi is a classically trained chef with extensive operations and marketing experience at Chipotle and Panera. A food systems expert, Jaimi teaches courses on food systems and innovation for the Masters in Food Business program at the Culinary Institute of America. She is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and holds a master’s degree in food systems from New York University. She can be reached at [email protected]