Cracker Barrel's Controlled POS Rollout
Off-premise sales and marketing promos that showcase the brand’s popular fried chicken are boosting the bottom line at Cracker Barrel. In a Q4 2019 earnings call with analysts, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. President and CEO, Sandy Cochran, said off-premise sales posted “solid growth … It was a meaningful contributor to the top-line results for the quarter.”
For the full-year, off-premise accounted for 9% of sales, “and we believe we're on track to achieve our target of growing it to 10% of sales by fiscal 2020,” Cochran added.
Individual To-Go continues to be the biggest component of Cracker Barrel’s off-premise business, said Cochran. Another growing segment of off-premise is catering.
“We have been pleased with the growth that we are having in the catering and the celebration meals,” said Cochran. “We have made a big investment in that with our catering vans and our catering services managers. And we hope that in fiscal '20 we can continue to build on that.” The brand is looking at ways to upsell through the mobile app and through scripting for phone orders.
Also during the quarter, Cracker Barrel expanded third-party delivery to 450 locations. “In conjunction with our Southern Fried Chicken menu promotion, we also featured a family-size offering available for both in-store pickup and third-party delivery that proved to be very popular,” said Cochran.
Looking ahead to fiscal 2020, accelerating off-premise growth and improving off-premise customer journey -- are among the brand’s priorities. Third-party delivery will be added to 150 more locations by the end of the fiscal year.
“A key focus in fiscal 2020 is improving the off-premise customer journey to ensure we are executing at a high level as we see continued growth in this business and that we are consistently delivering on guest expectations,” said Cochran. “To do this, we have several initiatives planned that are designed to strengthen our execution and create a better more seamless guest experience.” Additional details were not disclosed.
In other tech news, Cracker Barrel is rolling out a new POS system.
To date, 110 of the 650 restaurants have the new POS system, and 50 more locations will be up and running in fiscal 2020, explained Jill Golder - SVP and CFO. ”… We continue to be pleased with the new POS system. It's easier for our team members to use; it's easier to train them on. We believe that this technology will enhance both the employee experience as well as the guest experience given the other enablers like tablets.”
Cracker Barrel has been pacing the rollout of its POS “appropriately with other initiatives,” Golder explained. The brand’s successful fried chicken promo took precedence; “We purposely slowed it down with the chicken initiative,” she added.
Cracker Barrel comparable store restaurant sales in the quarter increased 3.8%, as average check increased 3.6% and traffic increased 22%, explained Golder.
For the full fiscal year, the company reported net income of $223.4 million representing a 4.5% increase over the prior year. For the quarter, the company reported total revenue of $787.1 million, an increase of 4.6% when compared to prior year revenue of $752.5 million. A full earnings report is available here.