Real-time, actionable data is key to driving restaurant sales
The topic of the Food On Demand conference panel was translating data into revenue growth, but with so much information at their fingertips, technology executives from Blaze Pizza, Jack in the Box and Freebirds World Burritos all agreed that they first need to understand what data is important to operators and can help them grow their business.
When there’s a test of new technology or the company wants franchisees to use a new tool, Chris Demery, CTO at Blaze, said if he talks to operators and they don’t use it, then it’s time to stop and reconsider. And for Doug Cook, senior vice president and CTO at Jack in the Box, operations must come first.
“We can drive traffic all day by collecting data from our customers and providing them with personalized offers,” Cook said on day two of the FODC in Las Vegas. “But if we can’t operate with consistency, with excellence, we’re just driving traffic so we can lose it. And this guest is more difficult to recover.
Data and technology, he said, should first help on the operations side, like supply chain and inventory management, “to make sure they have what they need to provide the experience.
At Blaze, which has approximately 350 locations, the data that is valuable to operators is that which helps them better predict wait times and other factors impacting offsite channels. “In our business, our biggest issue with 40% of our sales coming from outside is our ability to predict when our food is ready and when the guest comes to our restaurant for pickup,” Demery said.
Blaze also aims to use data to understand and plan for increases in digital orders, and demonstrate to select operators who have what it called a “four-wall mentality” that they can drive sales by paying attention to these factors. . By knowing “what’s out the door for delivery or takeout versus what’s in the restaurant,” Demery said, operators, general managers and others at the store level can manage activity by channel. However, for the data to be useful, it must be as close to real time as possible.
“Data is like a fry,” said Niko Papademetriou, senior vice president of sales and business development at point-of-sale company Qu. “It’s stale, it’s disgusting and it’s no use” after a while.
Giving operators the tools to make immediate decisions is a goal for Freebirds World Burritos, a Texas-based chain with about 60 units. The brand, said CTO Dawn Gillis, is building a new platform to give operators access to sales data on their mobile devices and the ability to compare daily and weekly sales over time.
Because nine out of 10 orders at Jack in the Box come through the drive-thru, the brand invests in technology and uses data to understand and improve performance. This includes knowing how many people come to a Jack in the Box and leave because the drive-thru is packed. Jack in the Box is also testing a robot at the fry station.
“We’re trying to run our restaurants with fewer people and we’re deliberately trying to figure out how to do it with more automation,” Cook said of the test with Miso Robotics. “I think there’s a very good potential return on investment, just by removing the workforce from the restaurant and hitting our targets.”