Even with perfect forecasting or scheduling, unforeseen rushes frequently occur in restaurants. When managed well, these busy times can help restaurants increase sales, but when unplanned bottlenecks occur at the same time, such as those stemming from callouts or unexpected turnover, these busy times can also end up sending customers to competitors.
“We do a great job of forecasting, but we’ve also had occasions where we’d get unexpectedly busy or a team member may have called off, and we’d have a line out the door,” says Wayne Pederson, vice president of information technology at Fazoli’s. “The trouble is once you get three or four people in line, guests might say ‘We’d better go to the restaurant down the street.’”
Rather than lose those sales to competitors, Pederson says the Fazoli’s team turned to guest-facing kiosk technology that could help decrease guest wait times during these busy periods.
“Our back of house had plenty of production capacity, but we had bottlenecks at the POS,” he says. “We wanted to eliminate those bottlenecks to deliver a better guest experience.”
Yet Fazoli’s didn’t want to give up its existing POS infrastructure to accommodate a kiosk, so the brand looked for partners that could integrate with the chain’s existing Brink POS infrastructure while offering a high level of support. Ultimately, Fazoli’s chose to partner with Bite—a digital ordering platform that handles everything from kiosks and contactless payments to web ordering and linebusting—in spring of 2019.
Now, over two years later, Pederson says the company still believes Bite was the right partner and has installed Bite kiosks in more than 100 locations. So far, the results have surpassed expectations.
“I was in-restaurant for the installation and didn’t even have them fully installed and people were already walking around me to use the kiosks,” Pederson says. “It shows just how much demand there is for this technology, and that some consumers actually prefer non-face-to-face interactions even when there isn’t a line.”
Regular Fazoli’s guests have also seen significant decreases in wait times at lunch. Pederson says some regulars who typically order the same thing every day have been able to easily adapt to the machines and are now able to order, pay, and sit down at their table in less than a minute, which improves their overall experience.
Additionally, Pederson says Bite’s suggestive selling feature has contributed to a significant lift in sales.
“Add-on desserts and upsized drinks are where all the margin is,” he says. “The kiosk never forgets to suggestive upsell, and as a result, we’ve seen a difference in average check from the kiosks.”
Though Pederson says there was some initial resistance in a few locations, once the team realized that the kiosks were there to supplement their labor during busy times rather than to serve as a way to cut payroll hours, team members embraced the kiosks as a way to give them time to provide better service.
Bite’s interface is also simple to use, making it easy for the Fazoli’s team to roll out LTOs or change guest offers, yet the company still offers the brand in-depth support with weekly calls to discuss tactics and ways to improve the kiosk experience, as well as industry trends.
“I’m a 100-percent straight shooter, and I don’t always give glowing reviews to companies,” Pederson says, “but Bite has been a great partner. Not only are we now capturing more sales and driving add-on sales consistently, but Bite offers tremendous support. They’re everything a restaurant chain could ask for in a partner.”
To learn more about how kiosks can help your brand recapture sales, visit the Bite website.
By Peggy Carouthers