Applebee's Franchisee Consolidates Managed SD-WAN, Security, Voice

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Applebee's Franchisee Consolidates Managed SD-WAN, Security, Voice

By Anna Wolfe - 10/21/2020

Thrive Restaurant Group, one of Applebee’s largest franchisees in the US, signed on with  Interface Security Systems for scalable network, communications and security services. The new solutions include a next-generation secure SD-WAN architecture with network upgrades, 4G/LTE wireless capability, unified communications as service (UCaaS) with cloud-based VoIP and a secure and standardized business security systems platform. As a significant update to Thrive’s legacy systems, the new Interface solution unclogs productivity bottlenecks and gives the flexibility the restaurant chain needs to address changing customer preferences.

With 81 restaurants across the United States, Thrive found itself struggling with challenges common to many geographically distributed businesses, including: managing multiple network and voice providers, dealing with outdated CCTV hardware and a lack of accountability from vendors.

“With 81 restaurants across ten states, we needed a partner we could count on to manage our network, voice and security for all locations,” explains Brian Houchin, Director of IT for Thrive Restaurant Group.

When it came to managing vendors, Thrive simply had too many. Troubleshooting technical issues was challenging as it was difficult to pin accountability on a specific vendor. In addition, tracking invoices, service credits and administering multiple vendors was an inefficient and time-consuming exercise every month.

Outdated hardware and changing regulations also posed a challenge. Unreliable CCTV equipment left the restaurants, employees and customers vulnerable to security risks on-premises. Constantly evolving Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance rules meant Houchin had to devote hours of his limited bandwidth to keep up with the latest changes and updates so Thrive could avoid major penalties and security threats.

With the COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupting Thrive’s business, restaurant staff found it challenging to handle sudden spikes in call volumes as they had to work with a legacy phone system that was not scalable. The lack of 4G wireless coverage outside of the restaurant premises made curbside pickup and take-out services impossible to manage.

Thrive turned to Interface to implement a secure, scalable network and communications backbone that would unclog the productivity bottlenecks and give the flexibility the restaurant chain needed to cater to changing customer needs.

Interface implemented a next-generation secure SD-WAN architecture with network upgrades to guarantee seamless connectivity between all of Thrive’s locations. To deliver a better guest experience for customers calling in with their orders and enabling curbside pickup and payment, Interface rolled out a 4G/LTE wireless network that also doubled up as a backup when the primary network failed.  With managed network services from Interface, Houchin and Thrive never have to worry about PCI compliance. Interface also implemented unified communications as service (UCaaS) with cloud-based VoIP and auto-attendant features for Thrive’s locations to seamlessly route high volumes of customer calls to their dedicated order center.

“We wanted to take the call-in experience out of the individual restaurants and put it into the hands of professionals who weren’t in a hurry to get off the phone,” Houchin explains. “The VoIP service from Interface lets us take additional orders, dramatically improving our customer experience and increasing revenue.”

To solve the limitations of Thrive’s legacy CCTV infrastructure, Interface delivered a secure video surveillance platform with easy remote viewing from any location and simplified access management to boost restaurant security.

Thrive’s partnership with Interface has allowed the restaurant group to focus more on their growth strategy and long-term plans. By consolidating their SD-WAN, UCaaS, CCTV and 4G/LTE services with Interface, Thrive gets real accountability without having to deal with the vendor run-around. Perhaps the greatest advantage is Thrive’s ability to aggressively expand, confident that Interface’s 24/7 managed services will always be ready to support their growth.

“We’ve had a chance to test out multiple vendors for network, communications and business security and Interface definitely has provided us the best experience,” concludes Houchin.

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