Geolocation technology baked into the mobile app helps reduce the friction in the pickup experience, she added. (Customers who opt in to using the mobile app pull into the valet lane; the technology notifies the restaurant's staff the customer has arrived, and their order is brought out to the customer who is waiting in their car. )
For 67 percent of millennials and 63 percent of Gen Z adults, ordering takeout from a restaurant is an essential part of their lifestyle, according to findings from the National Restaurant Association 2024 State of the Restaurant Industry Report.
Wings and Rings is among the restaurants seeing sustained demand for off-premise dining; more consumers are opting to order direct and pick up their order themselves vs. using delivery services and incurring third-party delivery fees.
“They (third-party delivery companies) definitely changed the dynamic of our industry and how we serve our customers,” Hoyman said. “I think we had a lot of lessons in how to provide convenience with quality food, knowing that maybe everyone doesn't necessarily want to go to a restaurant and sit down. They want to take the food to their home and enjoy it with their family. Now it's about getting ahead of what does the customer want and need. And maybe they don't even know they want and need. It is about how to get ahead of that desire so you can create solutions to solve these needs."
Evolving Customer Preferences
Wings and Rings is already leveraging feedback from its very engaged clientele from its strong loyalty program. This year Wings and Rings plans to do a new customer segmentation model to better understand changes in its customers’ behaviors; its previous version predates the COVID-19 pandemic, she explained. “Customers have changed how they interact with their restaurants of choice. We can broaden our target audience and look at how customers use us, how they're wanting to use us and then how we can meet their needs.”
Rich data from the brand’s website, mobile app and wallets is helping the brand understand who their current customers are.
“We have an opportunity at Wings and Rings to better understand our existing customers as well as potentially new customers and segmenting our database to better communicate offers that are the most relevant to them,” Hoyman said.
“When you think about a sports bar concept, you don't immediately go to family. Yet it is amazing how many families come to visit our locations… How can I creatively communicate and market to families that we are family friendly and a great place to come watch a game or just catch up with your kids… That customer segmentation study will help us drill down to create personas and to then be able to market to those groups.”
Using social media, including TikTok is “vitally important” to reach today’s consumers, especially millennials and Gen Z. “It’s so important to stay on top of the different social media channels where your customers are. It's a great way to interact with them. Gone are the days of communicating out a message to a broad audience and letting them digest it. It is now a two-way interaction where you post and then it’s game on.”
Customers are quick to respond with feedback, comments, criticisms and concerns. “They’re sharing their experiences and interacting with your brand,” she added. “Social media is where we absolutely have to be. We can interact in a way that's relevant and engaging with the customer so they feel that we're not necessarily talking at them but engaging with them.”
Some of the most engaging social media campaigns have been organic ones that have stemmed from loyal guests. (Remember Dogg Face skateboarding with his Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice to Fleetwood Mac? That garnered 100 million views on TikTok.)
“There are some brands out there that have just amazing loyalties within their customer base,” she explains. “They help promote your brand for you; they're posting and interacting with your brand and giving credibility to the experience because it's coming from your customer. It’s not coming from the corporate office marketing team.”
“That's the great thing about marketing; it's an art and science. There's no crystal ball, but I think we're very data-driven marketing department and we get as much information as we possibly can and then really work creatively to figure out how we target those different customers and how we engage and interact with them,” Hoyman said.
Wings and Rings is putting forth a lot of energy to create excitement around its loyalty program. “Being able to differentiate messages to the different segments within your loyalty program, that’s the future and showing the most traction,” she said.