Special Report

2010 Applied Tech Award Winners

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Customer Convenience Technology

The Criteria: Technologies in direct contact with consumers that have increased customer convenience or service.

Tasti D-Lite’s TastiRewards Customer Loyalty Program
Tasti D-Lite's TastiRewards Customer Loyalty ProgramSupplier: pcAmerica (POS); Mercury Payment Systems (processor); ELO (touchscreens)
At Work: A customer rewards program that combines a points-based guest loyalty program with social networking.

Using POS terminals, a POS WebPortal, a loyalty processor, and a customer-loyalty website hosted at myTasti.com, the TastiRewards suite of applications ties system-wide sales data to loyalty activity and automated social network message posting. Customers can earn points by purchasing product, registering their TreatCard, and enabling the system to automatically post to their social networking accounts, a feature that enables Tasti D-Lite to measure impressions, click-through, and redemption rates, and drive future menu and flavor decisions.

“TastiRewards, TastiFlavor alerts, Foursquare specials, loyalty cards, gift cards—all of these have been integrated into a very easy-to-use format and work together to augment each program,” Tasti D-Lite operator Joe Bullock says.

ARAMARK’s Burger Studio
Supplier: Wireless Ronin Technologies
At Work: At Burger Studio’s touch-screen kiosks, typically on college campuses, users build their own burgers.

Burger Studio customers customize their burgers with more than 30 topping options. As a user selects options, the burger builds on screen to visually represent the meal. Once the order is complete, the kiosk, made from sustainable materials and featuring Energy Star–compliant technology, prints a customer receipt while another order ticket prints in the kitchen.

While utilizing touch-screen ordering and customization, both Gen Y favorites, Burger Studio also improves service times, which inspired the University of Delaware to install two kiosks at its busiest food court location last fall.

“The style and concept of this design feeds into our clientele and combines customization without sacrificing speed of service,” says Ryan Boyer, marketing manager for the university’s dining services.

Sweet Tomatoes/Souplantation’s Facebook Page
Supplier: Red Door Interactive and Facebook
At Work: Using Facebook to communicate with customers and boost the brand’s online presence and engagement level.

A soup and salad buffet with 114 U.S. outlets, Sweet Tomatoes (known in some parts as Souplantation) began using Facebook in February 2009 to bridge the gap between its online and offline experience. The brand’s goals remain simple: increase engagement to bolster brand awareness, gain guest insights on products, and provide opportunities for interaction. The page has addressed more than 300 negative experience issues to date and provided useful insight on enhancing the restaurant experience for guests.

“We start conversations, listen to what our guests have to say, and really try to improve the experience for those who visit our restaurants,” Sweet Tomatoes’ senior manager Jill Trecker says, adding that the restaurant has nearly 50,000 fans without any strategic campaign to drive traffic.

Don’t Forget About Your Crew!

QSR recognizes innovations that enhance the workplace experience for staff members:

SMART Restaurant Group’s Employee Training
SMART Restaurant Group's Employee Training Supplier: Sysdine
At Work: A pre-employment assessment helps managers choose qualified employees, while online modules and checklists provide continued education and iPod videos deliver portable training.

In 2009, Texas-based SMART Restaurant Group, a 10-unit Which Wich franchisee, developed a multifaceted employee training tool in conjunction with Sysdine to help identify qualified employees as well as train, test, and track existing team members. SMART then added iPods to the mix: After viewing modules on a PC, employees can report to a station and watch a related 30–120-second video on the iPod enabling immediate, hands-on instruction.

“The iPod is a handy tool for managers to train what is needed, where it is needed, when it is needed,” SMART Restaurant Group president TJ Schier says, adding that customer satisfaction, employee retention, and store sales have all benefited from the new training.

Domino’s Pizza’s AVI Hood System
Domino's Pizza's AVI Hood System Supplier: Wolfe Electric
At Work: The AVI Hood System wraps the XLT pizza ovens in a stainless steel shroud, which hangs down from the hood to keep heat and gases from escaping.

By lowering exhaust rates and keeping heat and grease-laden vapors from entering the kitchen, the AVI Hood System helps cool the kitchen, resulting in lower utility costs and a more comfortable workplace. The hood is estimated to save about $5,000 during the first year and $1,000 in subsequent years.

Glen Davis of RPM Pizza, which operates 135 Domino’s Pizza locations across the South, tested the hood with positive results at a trio of his establishments. He found a cleaner physical store, a cooler, comfier kitchen, and increased energy efficiency.

“All things that help our bottom line and ability to serve the customer,” Davis says.