The Road Warriors
there is a war being fought on the roads, but you may not realize it when you cruise down the expressways. No road warriors will assault your vehicle with maces or numchuks. To the public, the war is quiet; to those involved, it is a fight for survival—a bitter battle. Don’t assume you aren’t involved in this war. When you arrive at a destination and begin the search for something to eat, you have just entered the fray. On the highways, in the cities and around the airports, restaurants serve the ceaseless flow of hungry travelers. Eateries are one of the firm pillars supporting the mighty temple of the travel and hospitality industry.
The battle to win the legions of hungry patrons can be divided many ways. Each restaurant is in competition with the others. There is, however, one division that has deep implications for those involved in commercial printing. On one hand, there are the chain and fast food restaurants, titans of edibles with seemingly endless supplies of resources; on the other hand, there are the independents, the mom and pop shops with unique decor and menus. Distributors can attack both ends of the spectrum with a number of clever marketing tools targeting both the titans and those with a more limited budget.
Out With the Old
“Independent restaurants are constantly fighting to stay alive against the major chains,” said Tom Hutchinson, president of Guest Checks Direct, Dawsonville, Ga. Hutchinson has been involved with the commercial printing industry for more than 35 years and has watched the evolution of hospitality businesses all the while. His own company has evolved to stay competitive in this field. Though his company is still titled Guest Checks Direct, Hutchinson says the actual guest check is no longer a significant portion of its business. Electronic point of sale (POS) computers have essentially eliminated the need for elegant custom guest checks. “Today, the customer gets a thermal receipt out of a computer printer,” Hutchinson said. But, while the computer has eliminated the need for the actual check, it has opened the door for significant specialization in order pads. “Many restaurants just use scratch pads. That is certainly adequate to write an order, but it doesn’t write it in an orderly fashion to enter it in the computer or to serve it.”