While some stand firm on one end or the other, many of us have a love-hate relationship with cooking. I’m one that bounces around. When I have time, I love it. It’s therapeutic. But when I’m exhausted from a long day at the office, well, I’m not a huge fan.
The other night I decided to cook but with a little help from my friends at Papa Murphy’s. My husband and I were in the mood for pizza, but I wanted to put my own spin on it.
So I went into the new Papa Murphy’s location down the street and ordered a large deLITE size dough—a sign I was leaning towards the more loving end of my relationship with cooking.
After placing my order, the young guy behind the counter looked a little confused and turned to the lady next to him for guidance. She immediately stepped in to explain they don’t sell just the dough. Stunned, I jumped in to let her know that I’ve been buying the dough for years at the other location a few miles away. The nice lady proceeded to tell me that she was from corporate, and that other store was going against policy.
As I turned for the door in complete disappointment, I started to wonder about the motivation behind their corporate policy. Do they think their role as America’s pizza provider will diminish if they sell the dough?
I say au contraire. Restaurants, from quick serves to fine dining, that can satisfy a variety of needs and allow me to have flexibility depending on what’s going on in my life are the ones that are irreplaceable. I still go to Papa Murphy’s for those times when I’m having a more “hate” relationship with cooking, to truly just “Take ‘N’ Bake.” So why turn down the opportunity to play a part in my culinary adventure when I’m in the cooking mood?
Embrace how you fit into your customers’ lives, don’t try to control it. You might uncover new opportunities. Papa Murphy’s could become an even bigger hero for families who want to make their Friday night extra special by creating their pizza together. By supplying the dough and a few pointers on mastering pizza making, Papa Murphy’s still remains the true pizza artist but allows for their customers to co-create.
Any healthy relationship evolves over time. So the next time your customer wants you to play a slightly different role than normal, think twice before turning them down. Otherwise, they might replace you.
Photo credit: Jessy Rone
Panera is currently offering a cookie or other baked good for 99¢ with the purchase of an entrée. Obviously dessert is always an appealing option and they do a good job promoting it with signage on the doors and a display at the register. However, the tipping point for the decision rests elsewhere: with the cashier.
Here are two ways the transaction could go:
- Cashier, “Would you like anything else?” Customer, “No thanks.”
- Cashier, “Would you like a cookie for an additional 99 cents?” Customer, “Yes!”
Of course, the first customer could go the extra mile and ask for the offer that was advertised all over the store and the second customer could decline the offer. However, the second scenario leads much more directly to a “yes.”
Words are important when it comes to training cashiers or waitstaff to handle customers and upsell. A recent article in Restaurant Hospitality offers phrases that can make a big difference.
When training your frontline staff, emphasize that being direct and specific is always the best way to go. “Would you like anything else?” is too vague to produce a desirable result. Instead, they should be taking note of what might be missing from a standard order (drink? side?) and looking for opportunities to make the order more complete, encourage trial of new items, and promote special offers.
Photo credit: Ava Rose
A few weeks ago, we profiled Splitbread, a sandwich shop in San Francisco that had implemented a cashless payment system – customers pay only by credit card, debit card or QR code.
In August, two QSR industry leaders – Starbucks and McDonald’s – each launched new initiatives that enable customers to more quickly and conveniently pay with their mobile device.
Starbucks’ entered a partnership with Square, which lets just about any merchant accept credit or debit cards by attaching a free square-shaped credit card reader to an iPhone, iPad or Android device.
Starbucks has been ahead of the curve with mobile payment – already allowing customers to pay via bar code within their mobile app – but the Square relationship will enable more mainstream adoption of using a mobile device to pay at retail.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s announced plans to test a new payments system in which customers use their mobile app to order and pay for meals. PayPal, eBay’s mobile payments platform, would power the transactions.
Ultimately, these alternative payment methods will make it more convenient for customers to interact with these brands.
At the same time, the data these interactions provide could open potential new opportunities for more robust loyalty and alternative daypart strategies.
Photo credit: Joe Ross
It’s no secret that convenience is the name of the game for most QSRs. Typically, convenience is associated with location; being in the right place is often as critical to success as any other factor.
But according to a recent Wired article, one new restaurant–Split Bread in San Francisco–has taken the notion of customer convenience to a whole different playing field.
Their payment model is based on a completely cashless experience. Customers pay only by credit or debit card. No cash means fewer hassles when ordering, paying and picking up.
Less hassle for the customer means that Split Bread is addressing a key element of success–convenience–in a unique and differentiating way.
By addressing one of their customers’ key barriers to a convenient experience, they are making it easier to say, “yes” to Split Bread.
Photo credit: 401(K)2012
At the annual National Restaurant Association show a couple of weeks ago, it was evident that high tech has become an increasingly bigger part of the dining industry expo, as reported by QSR Magazine.
For restaurants, new tech has helped the industry increase productivity and evolve customer service. One of the most crucial benefits is information collection.
“In one sense, it allows you to personalize customers,” says David Matthews, the NRA’s chief information officer. “As systems become more advanced, restaurants are able to reach out to them with offers and suggestions.”
Kansas City-based Front Flip offers a mobile app that has more of a marketing slant, helping restaurants drive repeat business while also rewarding frequent customers. After scanning a QR code with their phone, customers are sent a virtual scratch card with a chance to win a prize. It’s a win-win scenario. While the restaurant is collecting valuable data and the ability to interact with its guests, customers have the chance to be rewarded for their business.
With the rising popularity of smartphones, more and more restaurants are focusing their efforts on developing applications around this device. One of the most common implementations is mobile ordering and payment.
While Chipotle and Domino’s are two of the more notable pioneers in the category to venture into the mobile commerce arena, many have followed suit. T.G.I. Friday’s recently released an app named Friday’s which allows diners to open a tab, track their bill throughout the dining experience, and tap a button when they are ready to pay.
Tablet-based tabletop-ordering systems are also gaining traction. A group of MIT grads created the Presto tablet which not only allows guests to order and pay at any time but includes games to engage customers while their food is being prepared.
If you haven’t jumped on the high tech bandwagon quite yet, when considering the options be sure to ask yourself, “What value (convenience, access to information, entertainment, etc.) is it adding?” It’s not enough to just gain coolness points by incorporating cutting-edge technology.
The quick-service market is saturated. It’s hardly a news flash, but it drives home the point that for a company to thrive in the space it must rise above the noise generated by a smorgasbord of competitors. When it comes to capturing market share, it’s less about who yells the loudest (think employees being sent street-side to wave sale signs at passing motorists) and more about which brands’ personalities leave a lasting impression on customers and make them want to come back for an experience unlike others.
Enter the skating Carhop, a SONIC Drive-In tradition and top-of-mind association with consumers. SONIC is unabashedly quirky–and in a good way. Customers enjoy the unique drive-in format, the popular line of plush kids’ meal toys shaped like Tots–and most importantly, the ability for its employees to have fun at work. You may be reading this at a desk or on a mobile device. Think of how much more fun you’d be having if you were reading while on a pair of skates.
The skating Carhop position is considered a brand treasure at SONIC. In order to celebrate it and promote it internally, the company hosts an annual competition each year to crown the top skating Carhop in the country. In addition to an online entry method, SONIC hosts regional submission events across the country to help Carhops get entered and give them an opportunity to shine. Last Saturday, one of those events took place in Phoenix. Amid the crowd of Carhop entrants, we spotted something not seen every day, a skating Tot–or “skater” Tot. It wasn’t there to wave down passing motorists, but simply to bring a little more joy to the crowd in classic, quirky SONIC fashion.
*Crossposted from the Crossroads blog.
It started with the airlines, and then quickly spread throughout almost every consumer and business-to-business industry. Loyalty programs/frequent buyer programs are one of the primary drugs driving today’s consumers’ buying habits. And I say drug because they are truly addictive.
The latest news from the restaurant industry is that over the last two years, frequent diner programs have increased in popularity by 35%. That’s right! Consumer use of these programs in the last two years has increased from 23% to 31%, according to a new in-depth study by Technomic. Their latest Dinner and Late-Night Consumer Trend Report shows that loyalty programs are becoming more and more popular with those who eat out most often: your most valuable consumer segment.
The challenge for restaurant CMOs is to harness this important customer segment without breaking the bank. The most common way that companies mitigate their exposure is to put limitations on redemption. Some airlines have blackout dates. The movie chains often exclude certain blockbusters when they first come out. And some restaurant chains limit redemptions to certain days, day parts, or menu items. The temptation to put restrictions on redemptions is great.
But, think for a moment about what you’re really doing. You are telling you best, most loyal customers that you are going to thank them for their loyalty…BUT.
I believe that it’s actually preferable to make the goal a little harder to achieve, i.e. require more purchases and/or dollars, and then make your total offering available at redemption. Don’t yield to the temptation to treat your most loyal customers who are getting something “free” as second-class citizens.
I actually like to look at this subject from a broader perspective. Loyalty programs are a form of “deal.” So are coupons, including offerings like Groupon. Every organization needs to look at the “rules” we have in place for dealing with those customers taking advantage of these offerings.
Then, most importantly, we have to make sure that everyone on the front lines who is interfacing with these customers understands their lifetime value, not just their worth on this transaction. You need to do everything you can to insure that these “special” customers are treated in a way that makes them want to come back again and again. Only then will the deal really pay off.
Photo credit: John Hritz
Every time I fly Southwest Airlines, which seems to be more often every year, I am increasingly impressed with how well they have managed to train their customers. We show up, we line up, and we board—by number. And, we do it so quickly that Southwest is able to outperform all their competitors in equipment utilization.
They understand that they don’t make any money when the plane is on the ground, and they’ve recruited us, their customers, to help them achieve productivity. Southwest’s messaging to their customers starts on their website when you make the reservation and ends up at the gate with stanchions calling out your group and number.
On my way to the airport, if I drive through McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin, I see another example of using Point of Purchase to get customers to help achieve productivity. In QSR, and particularly during the breakfast day part, Speed is King!
The last time I drove through a McDonald’s, there were three separate signs at three different points in the drive-thru that helped me help them. I was told where to go. I was told to have my money ready. And, I was told what to do if my order was going to slow up the rest of the line.
All of this, along with having the proper systems and the proper staff, insured that I could get through a relatively long line of cars FASTER than I could at a shorter line at their competitor’s drive-thru.
Marketing departments spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to use “signage” as a way to increase sales, either by bringing in new customers or by increasing average ticket. But how much time is spent trying to figure out how to use signage to increase speed, productivity, customer satisfaction—and ultimately profits? It has been proven that educated customers are much more profitable customers!
Figure out how you want your customers to act in an ideal situation to help you operate your business more efficiently. Then, put together a communication package that helps you educate them on your plan. And remember that the same tools you use to sell them can also manage them.
Photo credit: Matt McGee
In the QSR business–or in any retail business for that matter–comp sales is the goal. And in that effort, fast-feeders spend hours devising strategies and tactics to drive average ticket value–that is, to get guests to spend more money. In reality, they are only talking to themselves.
“Average ticket” is sales- and marketing-speak, and means nothing to consumers. Think about this: when was the last time a guest walked into a Burger King, or drove thru a McDonald’s asking themselves, “How can I spend more money on this visit?”
So often, retailers find themselves trumping long-term value with short-term gains. As a result, “offers” are manipulated and forced on a consumer to help meet this month’s goal. But the impact can be devastating to the lifetime value of that consumer.
Guest experience is the path to increased check. In today’s ultra-competitive, value-focused landscape, retailers must earn the business by enhancing the overall experience. Only once that experience is recognized as enhanced by consumers can QSRs ask for guests to spend more.
So what does it take to improve customer experience? QSR Magazine has a helpful guide which suggests:
- Regularly surveying your customers to stay apprised of their priorities.
- Understand your performance benchmarks. Your customer experience isn’t just being compared with your direct competitors–you’re being held to the standards of all service businesses a customer encounters.
- Monitor and judge performance objectively via mystery shoppers to ensure that key elements of the customer experience are being delivered upon.
- Monitor the attitudes of managers and staff. Make sure all employees have the tools they need to succeed at their jobs.
- Provide opportunities for customer feedback. This doesn’t just mean surveys – it’s also important to monitor and respond social media feedback.
How are you working to improve customer experience?
Photo credit: Björn Láczay
I can’t count the number of ads I saw for the new Strawberry Lemonade beverage from McDonald’s over that past month. I can’t even remember where all I saw ads. I know I’ve seen it in OOH, I’m pretty sure I saw a TV ad. Did any of that work? No. But something else did.
I was stopped in my tracks—literally and figuratively—by a brilliant tactic the fast feeder executed to promote Strawberry Lemonade. This tactic was so basic and to the point that it made it so easy and simple for me as a consumer to buy. And this tactic lived a long way from any billboard or television set. Let me set it up for you:
I’m in line in the drive thru at McDonald’s with two restless kids in the back seat. As I pull forward in the line to a position where I am one car behind the menu ordering board, a McDonald’s employee greets me at my car. (This alone has captured my attention as it is anything but part of my routine drive thru experience.) The guy is offering Strawberry Lemonade samples, in the drive thru, 30 seconds prior to the point of ordering.
To make it more fun, he had a Norman Rockwell-looking lemonade stand positioned where typically I would see an expected (yet still unwelcome) yard sign telling me one of many ways I can spend more money. What a welcome change. The kids stopped screaming, I tried the new drink, I ordered one 30 seconds later, and everyone won.
The experience was a good reminder of the difference between an impression and an impact. Impressions get you awareness, but impact gets you action. In this case, McDonald’s did something different, did something welcome to me (the consumer), and they were rewarded with action (I bought the drink). Think of all the money the franchisee could have saved by skipping production and media for the television and billboard ads. I tip my hat to the brilliant, yet embarrassingly simple effort at the store level. Good job, McDonald’s, for leading by example.