After seeing success in the Durham location, Rise moved to spread the system to corporate stores in North Carolina. Franchisees of the 16-unit company have been slower to adopt the $18,000 piece of equipment, but the numbers speak for themselves as corporate sales growth races ahead that of franchises.
The additional revenue likely stems from the built-in suggestive selling shown in Rise’s digital ordering platform for complementary items and historical preferences. Guests also value the little-to-no wait time for pickup orders. Altogether, Rise shaved more than 10 percent in labor costs. This is significant for a company that says it fared well during the shortage. Rise reports no real problems in hiring, which Ferguson attributes to paying corporate store employees more than $15 an hour and providing a coronavirus hardship bonus at corporate stores.
Ferguson’s advice for other restaurants? Don’t be afraid of technology.
“It's not going anywhere,” Ferguson says. “You need to lean into it. It is difficult at first because you're lining that up with all these different stores and making sure that it works. And it had glitches at the beginning when you first start implementing that you got to work out. But you got to jump in there and do it.”
The next steps in Rise’s growth include a new corporate store. Rise also intends to open franchises in California, Maryland, Tennessee, and Virginia down the road. With expansion, Rise simplified its brand to lessen cooking complications.
“We've always been really focused on having tight infrastructure, at least with communication lines, and a dashboard for employees,” Ferguson says. “We've simplified this menu quite a bit from the very beginning. But we did keep it really tight.”
Amid its budding growth, labor-saving technology and continued operations, Rise continues to focus on its people. All corporate managers started out as store employees. And corporate managers can work their way toward being a franchisee.
“The biggest thing for me is really defining the culture and giving opportunities to people who live for us,” Ferguson says.
“Seeing those goals come into achieving that, that flow of people moving up through the company and making more money and having a better lifestyle is really important to me,” he adds. “I'm really focused on the relationship between the technology and the people that work for us and making sure that neither hates the other so they're somewhat in harmony.