Industry News | October 20, 2015 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Long John Silver's Captain Bell Inspires Tech Platform

image used with permission.

Humm, a technology platform that supports clients including the likes of Yale-New Haven Hospital, Marriott, and Disney, all started with the ringing of a dinner bell, literally. 

About a dozen years ago, Bernard Briggs and his two sons would frequent Long John Silver’s every few months for a serving of Chicken Planks and fries with malt vinegar.

“I never really noticed it before. There was this one time we were sitting there just the three of us and they had these Captain’s Bells at the exit of each door,” Briggs says. “There was a dad and his son leaving; he picked the little kid up, rang the bell, and behind the counter they gave their obligatory and mandatory ‘whoop whoop.’ And the guy and the kid loved ringing the bell and even us customers sitting in our chairs, there was like a little energy that just waved through the building.”  

As a technologist, Briggs began to think of how Long John Silver’s could benefit from being able to capture those rings. If the average number of rings per day went from 70 to 50 over time, Briggs says, a tracking system could alert the brand, allowing it to identify and rectify the problem.

Although Briggs knew his idea was sound, he also realized that the technology was not yet advanced enough to bring his idea to life. Twelve years later, the evolution of mobile operating systems offered Briggs the dexterity and cost effectiveness to at last build Humm.

“It’s a lot more sophisticated than ringing the bell and that original idea. Today Humm is collecting a massive amount of data around how these restaurants are performing in different areas,” Briggs says. The platform was built to be customizable so operators can capture data on what is most important to them, whether it be food and beverage, customer service, ambiance, accessibility, or a number of other factors.

In addition to monitoring the homing in on the most important criteria at a given time, it also allows operators to offer incentives encouraging guests to provide feedback while they are still on premise, allowing staff to address a problem before customers leave and decide not to return. Briggs says that because the feedback rates are remarkable (85–95 percent) even without special offers, incentives are especially helpful in capturing email addresses, which can represent one of the best marketing options.

Restaurants represent more than half of Humm’s clientele with limited service accounting for 15–20 percent of that amount. The second largest industry client is healthcare, proving the platform’s versatility.

“Every restaurant owner, entrepreneur, leader should at least look at what we’re doing with Humm. I haven’t gotten in front of leadership of a restaurant yet that didn’t see a full demonstration of our product and choose not to give it a shot,” Briggs says.

Other Humm converts include Austin, Texas–based Hopdoddy Burger Bar. Originally the brand was going to test the platform in three of its nine restaurants, but Briggs says they were so pleased with Humm that the leaders rolled it out in all locations before the trial period ended.

Although Long John Silver’s is not yet among Humm’s client roster, Briggs hopes the brand will at least hear its part in the creation of Humm. Still, the seafood quick serve is with Humm in spirit.

“I do have one of their Captain’s Bells in our office, ” Briggs says. “One of my cofounders gave me for Christmas last year a Long John Silver’s Captain’s Bell he found on Ebay.”


By Nicole Duncan

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