Mendocino Farms, a 46-unit sandwich brand based in California, has seen increasingly strong sales over the past couple of years.
This sales growth has led to expansion for the brand, which plans to open 10-13 more stores in 2022. But expansion brings new challenges, says Brian Pearson, chief technology officer at Mendocino Farms. One of those challenges has been managing an ever-expanding network of store units and the associated pieces of equipment.
“As our volumes have increased, we’ve definitely seen opportunity in some of the original equipment we’ve purchased,” Pearson says. “Obviously, the volume is a good thing, but we need to make sure we add resilience to some of the processes and equipment to handle it. Being able to mine for that data is absolutely crucial.”
It’s why Pearson and the team at Mendocino Farms reached out to Ecotrak, an enterprise software startup founded by former restaurant operators and executives. Ecotrak creates seamless repairs and maintenance requests to a network of reliable vendors if and when equipment needs attention.
For example, if an oven malfunctions, the store manager creates a service request in a matter of seconds from a mobile app. That request initiates a brief troubleshooting process to make sure the issue needs professional attention. If and when it does, a technician is called to perform service and the system automatically creates an invoice.
But what Pearson and his team especially love about Ecotrak is the platform’s ability to help leverage analytics and guide data-driven decisions. These insights are part of Ecotrak’s lifecycle management system, wherein each piece of equipment is input into the platform and the software aggregates information like whether or not the equipment is still under warranty, or the maintenance it has received in the past.
“Prior to using Ecotrak, we were ‘guestimating’ the age of our equipment, using our gut instead of analytics,” says Gene Davis, senior director of facilities at Mendocino Farms. “Now we’re able to look at the age and the value of the equipment and that helps us figure out if it should be repaired or replaced. It also helps in another way, where instead of having to repeatedly repair a piece of equipment for the same reason over and over, maybe you say, ‘Hey, look at what Ecotrak is telling us. This might not be the right piece of equipment for us.’”
Ecotrak has made Mendocino Farms more efficient at what it does best—serve great sandwiches to its loyal customers while expanding its footprint further and further—but it’s also made team members’ lives a whole lot easier, Pearson says.
“That’s such a huge part of this—there’s a quantitative ROI, and we believe this has already paid for itself in the six months or so since we implemented it,” Pearson says. “But there’s also a qualitative ROI—we’ve improved the quality of life of our employees, as well as ourselves. Ecotrak has given us a wealth of data and created invaluable change and helped scale our model for growth—it’s hard to put a price tag on that.”
For more on Ecotrak, visit ecotrak.com.