When I first started FastFood.com, I personally went into the corporate headquarters of a large fast food chain and introduced myself. I told the receptionist that I wanted to speak to one of their marketing people about my website. Her reply was, “Why, we are not a fast food company, we are a QSR company!”.
I had never even heard of QSR before, so I had to check into it. It turns out that QSR stands for Quick Service Restaurant, and is what people in the fast food industry call their business. Only a hand full of people use this term, and for good reason. It’s because the rest of us call it fast food!
I thought this was a little infantile, with a dash of being politically correct sprinkled on top. This seemed a little like calling the trash man a “Waste Disposal Engineer”, or a waitress a “Culinary Transportation Provider”. I mean really, who are these people kidding? When was the last time you asked someone what they did for dinner last night, and they responded with “Oh, I just picked up QSR on the way home” or “We had Fast Casual”. What a bunch of nonsense.
So, why are these companies so opposed to the term “fast food”?
For one thing, in the beginning fast food was inexpensive (cheap). And cheap has a negative connotation to it. So in my mind, they should call it “expensive” to get around that problem. But I doubt they will take my advice.
A second issue is that “fast” is associated with hurried, or “your meal was thrown together as quickly as possible”. So this may be the root of the word “quick” in QSR. So I guess that fast and quick do not really mean the same thing. Really?
As for food, well we all know that these restaurants don’t sell food, they sell service, right? Don’t they? I mean didn’t you just come home with two full bags of service just last night? Man was that good.
How about the word “restaurant”? Sure, a Husband decides to take his beautiful wife out for dinner at a restaurant, so he takes her to a Taco Bell. I hope he likes sleeping on the couch.
Talk about denial? Search the internet for “fast food”. You’ll get about 60 million results. Now do the same thing with “quick service restaurants”? Wow, .2 million, that’s point two million. Talk about the elephant in the room. How about “QSR”? Ok, here is a list of search results for that term:
Quality Satisfaction Rate
Quality System Regulations
Quality Status Report
Quality System Review
Quarterly Status Report
Quality System Requirement
Quarter-Rack Scalable Router
Quick Service Restaurants
Quebec Southern Railway
Quick Strike Reconnaissance
Quality Surveillance Representative
Quivira Scout Ranch
Quarterly Status Review
Quality Solutions and Research
Quality Status Review
Quality, Service and Reliability
Qualified Status Report
Quality Site Requirements
Quota Status Report
Why do I care? Well, I don’t really. But I do think it’s a little silly of the fast food industry. In fact, I am actually pretty happy about this.
For one thing, while all the big QSR companies are marketing to the 29 people a month who type “QSR” into a search engine, I get a chance to address over 1 million who type in “fast food”.
Another thing that I get a kick out of is that most would think that McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, or a myriad of others would be at the top of the internet fast food chain, but FastFood.com is above all of them in search results for “fast food”.
And finally, an industry which generates over 100 billion dollars a year in revenue is playing second fiddle on the internet to little old me and my meager website, because they don’t like the term “fast food”.
I guess I am just surprised that this website is at the top of any list where the next 10 guys below me are all billion dollar companies. It gives me hope that the little guy can still have an impact. Now, if I could just find a way to sell a cheeseburger online….hmmm?