Scaling the Mexican-inspired concept has required new innovative technology.

Taco Cabana is a regional powerhouse, with 144 locations across Texas. As the brand scales its footprint within Texas and into other states, it has had to double down on its communication and training efforts in order to maintain consistent food and service. 

Those efforts have had to solve for a number of challenges. For one, an increasingly younger demographic is filling frontline positions, demanding modes of communication that feel familiar and engaging to members of Gen Z. Secondly, headwinds such as staffing shortages and commodity scarcities have meant just-in-time (JIT) updates from the organization to restaurant teams are now a necessary part of doing business. 

For these reasons, PlayerLync, a mobile-first training, operations, and communications platform, has helped Taco Cabana expand its brand efficiently. PlayerLync is a centralized, mobile repository containing up-to-date content designed to meet the demands of frontline workers of all ages and backgrounds. Team members can access and engage with content on the smartphones and tablets they are accustomed to using. 

“When we presented PlayerLync to our team for the first time, I rolled it out at a GM meeting and the managers broke out into applause,” says Debbie Hood, chief people and culture officer at Taco Cabana. “We’re adapting to this new post-pandemic workforce which has different needs, different wants, and different learning preferences. The ability to get information out quickly and accurately is very important.” 

Previously, the chain would have to issue a massive, hard copy, three-ring operations binder to each store. If a page were damaged or missing, a new copy would have to be mailed out. PlayerLync has helped Taco Cabana’s procedures evolve into a digital format, saving the team time and money. 

Today, Taco Cabana training staff manages the communications and content they need, when they need it, from their iPad. Team members at every level can access curated training and content that eliminates arduous training sessions and sharp learning curves. If a new team member has a question about how the brand does something—for example, what is the procedure for frying taco shells?—PlayerLync is that go-to resource with useful and interactive training, in the flow of work. 

“PlayerLync supplements our existing e-learning for on-the-job training,” Hood says. “PlayerLync has enhanced our ability to be consistent and offer a chicken fajita in San Antonio that is the same as a chicken fajita in Dallas. And, once we begin franchising outside the state of Texas, where people may not necessarily have a whole lot of experience with our Mexican-inspired flavor profile, having this tool will help us grow the brand immensely.” 

One of Taco Cabana’s favorite PlayerLync features is the ability to create easily digestible instructional videos. Members of the operations team can track how often content has been accessed and how long team members spent engaging with it—ensuring new and critical information is being absorbed rather than ignored. The same goes for written content, which is now circulated to all Taco Cabana team members in a short and engaging format. 

“Just this week we’ve updated and featured various content that everyone can use,” says Crystal Bragg, director of training and development. “So, we are able to meet the learner where they are at in their moment of need.” 

Adaptability has long been the key to survival, and PlayerLync gives quick-service restaurants, like Taco Cabana, a tool to do just that. With big growth goals and an ever-changing workforce, the platform has helped the quick-service brand become better at scaling its core competencies. “PlayerLync has become part of our learning culture,” Bragg says. “It’s now part of what everyone does and is supposed to do in their role.” 

For more on how PlayerLync can help your brand scale, visit the company’s website

By Jocelyn Winn

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