At its pandemic height, Hopdoddy was doing about 95 percent of its sales via these off-premises channels. That came down as the brand was able to leverage its patios and as states relaxed dine-in regulations and capacity limits. But by then, Hopdoddy had drank the Kool-Aid on off-premises opportunities. Chandler says the company is much more open-minded about how it might facilitate service in its future stores.
“Could you have a mobile order pickup window where you drive through, scan a QR code, park in a stall, place your order, and then we text you when your order is ready and you drive back through and pick it up 6 minutes later?” he asks. “That's a possibility for Hopdoddy that leverages that technology to allow for a more convenient guest experience.”
The new digital muscle that Hopdoddy has picked up through the pandemic has even led the brand to reconsider how it facilitates dine-in service, Chandler says.
“I think that's the next evolutionary front for us, is the part of the technology stack that we built to handle our off-premise business—can we use it for on-premises?” he says. “Is that going to be sticky? Is that what the guest is going to want on the other side of this, or are they going to want to see a reengagement back to ... hospitality with humans?”
Ultimately, he wants to gives customers that choice. The goal moving forward will be for Hopdoddy to develop a service structure that lets them decide whether they want an experience that’s completely contactless from payment to service, or one that features human-led hospitality and touch points—or some combination of the two.
Regardless, Hopdoddy is much more of a believer in off-premises channels than it was prior to the pandemic, and Chandler says the company’s path going forward will be defined by a great experience both inside and outside the stores.
“We think off-premise business is here to stay,” he says. “We think on-premises business will continue to gather steam as we get vaccinated and get herd immunity and we get on the back side of this [pandemic]. However, [off-premises] is still going to be a big part of our business, and we need to make sure that it's done right.”
To learn more about Hopdoddy’s off-premises evolution during the pandemic, stream the conversation with Chandler in the podcast player above.