Quick-Service Restaurants (QSRs) Use In-Store Promotions And Events For A Competitive Edge


For nearly three decades, customers of McDonald’s have been able to buy burgers, fries and chance to play an in-house game of McDonald’s Monopoly. By collecting playing pieces earned through purchases, customers can get a tasty meal — and maybe win something along the way.

But McDonald’s doesn’t rest on its laurels; it has to continually adapt the game to changing consumer tastes. “In order to stay relevant to our customers, the brand has evolved the game over the years while keeping the concept the same,” McDonald’s archivist Mike Bullington told Business Insider.

But not all restaurants are innovating like McDonald’s and their Monopoly game. With an average score of 38 out of 100 on the restaurant readiness index, many restaurants have a long way to go when it comes to innovation. Here are five in-store features to keep in mind to attract and retain guests.

— Almost three-quarters or — 74.1 percent — of restaurants offer in-store promotions. Sonic has a happy hour, too. It offers milk shakes at participating Sonic locations after 8:00 P.M. And from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M., the restaurant offers half-priced drinks and slushies. And Moe’s Southwest Grill has been celebrating Free Queso Day for years. “As we move into our 17th year of serving our famous queso…we know just how much our fans light up at the mere mention of the liquid gold,” Moe’s president Bruce Schroder said in a statement posted on “It is time once again to celebrate Free Queso Day together, our annual chance to say thanks to our loyal fans and invite queso newbies along to see why Moe’s is known for it.”

— And almost as many restaurants — 72 percent — offer in-store events. For example, when Chopt opened a new restaurant in Nashville, it held an in-store charity event called Chopt Gives Day. During the event, which occurred during a weekday lunch hour and dinner, all customers who made a donation to a local charity — the Nashville Food Project — received a free salad. And, in a bolder event, &Pizza made its stores into pop-up wedding chapels to host “complimentary” ceremonies — complete with pizza, of course. The set-up also included celebratory décor, flowers, and, yes, someone to officiate a wedding. If that promotion sounds familiar, Taco Bell has held weddings too.

— A little more than half of restaurants — or 53.8 percent — offer in-store cloud-based point-of-sale systems (POS). Uncle Maddio’s Pizza, an Atlanta-based fast casual create-your-own pizza restaurant, uses cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) technology. Their system offers credit card processing, gift card capabilities, loyalty program integration and report and data functions. It has enabled the restaurant to launch online ordering and third-party delivery, generating new revenue for its locations.

— Just over 16 percent of restaurants offer in-store QR codes. For example, TGI Friday’s has scannable QR codes on its bills. At the end of a meal, a patron can pay by using a smartphone camera as a scanner. The first location to offer the codes as payable was U.K. Manchester’s Piccadilly Station, which is also the first company location with the express aim of serving main meals to visitors within 10 minutes of their order. But diners take note: No interactions with a flair-bedecked waiter or waitress is required to use a QR code.

— Fifteen percent of restaurants offer in-store digital wallet. P.F. Chang’s casual-style dining restaurant chain Pei Wei accepts Apple Pay, for example, to make the checkout experience easier for its customers. “Accepting Apple Pay is a win for Pei Wei because it’s convenient and gives our guests the flexibility to use their preferred method of payment,” said Pei Wei CEO Ralph Bower. “It allows us to safely and quickly process transactions, increasing both customer service and restaurant efficiency.” And, in 2017, E la Carte, the maker of the pay-at-the-table Presto System for the full-service restaurant industry, released a payment terminal that accepts contactless payments from Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay.

Even with slowing sales — and being an offline game in a digital age — McDonald’s Monopoly game is growing and thriving. The game has given out more than a billion in prizes over the past decade and, in 2016, the chain gave away “more individual cash prizes than any game in the last 10 years,” Bullington told Business Insider.


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