No compensation was received for this post. It is an editorial review.
It is not a question of if. It is a question of how long can a restaurant brand survive without digitalization.
For restaurants brands to gain a competitive edge, survive and grow, two events must occur.
- Full acceptance of digital platforms, instead of thinking “oh, it’s another system we have to learn.”
- Second, uses these systems from a strategic perspective instead of staring at the green and red arrows and making knee-jerk adjustments.
As a car enthusiast, I use car brands as a metaphor. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to experience a live demo of Marketing Vitals which provides a marketing software platform to restaurant brands.
At first glance, my initial thought based on the website and name of the company was a Honda, basic data analytics that provides information wrapped in a complex, mind-numbing dashboard similar to NetSuite.
Instead, hidden within the illusion of a Honda was a software system sporting a Bugatti Veyron engine.
During the two-plus hour demonstration, I observed unlimited possibilities and noted hidden opportunities throughout the system. Every department from finance to operations and human resources can use the platform.
The ease of use was amazing. I thought, “Why can’t other software platforms be this easy to use and navigate!” For restaurant managers and executives, who are big picture visionaries, the benefits of the software are immediate.
The real-time calibrated data offers the ability to tweak on the fly marketing and sales initiatives to drive sales within hours at a very granular level.
Catching Subtleties, Reducing Waste, Increasing ROI
The brilliance of the software is its potential to catch subtleties that are often missed. The example used during the demo was about how customers were removing tomatoes included in a menu item creating waste and additional cost.
If 95% of the individuals are removing tomatoes from their beef tacos, then why include the ingredient?
Before the use of digital software, to track the removal of tomatoes was humanly impossible. The cost savings of removing the tomatoes from the menu item has a ripple effect, especially during winter months when tomatoes are more expensive.
The beauty about platforms, like Marketing Vitals, is now the food industry can capture and use data in the same way other industries have been using data for years.
Here is where the Holy Grail of data analytics will occur for restaurant brands.
A startup or company creates a portal to combine supply chain software, consumer data, and Marketing Vitals into one dashboard for a restaurant brand. The consumer app provides instant feedback on menu items, purchase habits, timing, pickup or dine-in and more.
Imagine using Marketing Vitals, connected with a real-time supply chain data system that monitors food supply availability throughout the entire supply chain interwoven with a consumer mobile app feeding your brand purchasing data.
When a recall occurs, think Romain lettuce, the entire system adjusts. All menu items with Romain lettuce are tweaked, suppliers are notified to increase shipments of Iceberg lettuce. Everything is tweaked to match the event, and an update is sent to fans and customers.
I believe the most significant advantage, for Marketing Vitals and restaurant brands, is the amazing horsepower of data under the hood. I’m unsure if these benefits are fully conveyed by the company to its customers.
Potential Benefits of Marketing Vitals:
- Eliminate surprises.
- Reduce waste.
- Ability to identify real KPI’s.
- Enable all team members from waiters to executives to monitor KPI’s.
- Provide higher quality food and service.
- Eliminate crappy service.
- Provide hidden marketing opportunities (especially for outside the box thinking managers).
- Provide real-time data to chefs allowing them to beta test menu items in real time. Bring the beta testing startup concept to the restaurant industry (Lean Startup).
- Gain a better understanding of how events impact marketing campaigns instead of thinking nothing worked.
The food industry is undergoing a massive disruption driven by the use of these software platforms, AI, automation, and changing customer behaviors.
Restaurant brands are not immune to these changes as the market shifts to two extremes – Experience Brands or Seamless Brands.
Using Texas-based restaurants for Experience Brand examples: Whataburger, Pappas Family Restaurants (Pappasito’s) and Buc-ee’s. The brand loyalty for all of these brands is unyielding. For Whataburger, James Avery is selling a new jewelry charm in response to customer request.
Seamless Brands are any restaurant you visit because of immediate need and location – nothing else.
It is not a question of if. It is a question of which type of platform will your restaurant brand use to survive and grow.