Industry Hero Fazoli’s Taps Tech for Slick Shift to Off-Prem

Fazoli’s placed team members in the drive-thru with tablets and walkie talkies, launched curbside pickup in less than one week and promoted all their channels --mobile, online and third-party delivery.
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Industry Hero Fazoli’s saw record-breaking sales -- and traffic -- in 2020, thanks to a streamlined pivot to drive-thru, curbside and to contactless payments.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fazoli’s IT team quickly adapted by utilizing the brand’s current technology and functionality to accomplish their main goal: provide classic, craveable Italian favorites how, where and when guests wanted while ensuring that the team met the local and national COVID-19 guidelines. 

A key member of the tech team, Johanna Miner, was instrumental in Fazoli’s strategic shift to drive-thru. Miner also managed and led the launch of Fazoli’s virtual brands: Wingville, partnership with Wow Bow and the brand’s newest virtual concept, Macaroniville. 

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The entire team, from operations to marketing and IT, collaborated cross-functionally to develop a plan and launch initiatives. With the sudden shift to the drive-thru channel, accounting for more than 60% of sales, the brand fast-tracked ideas that were in the pipeline. Fazoli’s placed team members in the drive-thru with tablets, making it quick and easy for people to order, launched curbside pickup in less than one week and promoted their various ordering channels --mobile, online and third-party delivery. 

Fazoli’s team focused on convenience and leaned on their established digital presence to deliver on CX. Instead adding new programs, Fazoli’s leveraged its partnership with Olo, expanded its capabilities, streamlined mobile ordering and ultimately connected with guests in new ways that extended beyond the four walls. The brand also made updates to their mobile app and capitalized on insights to create more intentional experiences and offers to the 800,000+ members of Fazoli’s rewards program. 

Effective Low-Tech

One inexpensive tool that provided an additional touchpoint was an investment in FRS radios (i.e. walkie talkies). This easy, low-tech and cost-effective solution allowed the team members taking orders to communicate items with longer cooking times with the kitchen, giving them time to prepare hot Italian quickly. This purchase not only helped the brand recover lost sales from dine-in but also helped improve their drive-thru times by nearly a minute. 

The brand implemented contactless payment, which is now available on all dine-in credit card terminals, and introduced curbside powered through Play Network. The updated phone system notifies the team with distinct rings that streamline the guests’ contact-free experience and minimizes employee error. 

Play Network also provided team members with reminders to change their gloves every 20 minutes, clean their workstations at the top of each hour and complete additional safety measures during their shifts. These reminders were audible to the guests which provided proof of the brand’s commitment to safety.

Fazoli’s leveraged the Elo kiosk to automate the employee check-in process. The Fazoli’s IT team created a front-end user interface, integrated it to the employee database, as well as the creation of new secure databases because of the sensitive nature of employee’s health information. This also required integration into an SMS messaging service in order to provide near real-time alerting to supervisors in the event any team member experienced either a temperature exceeding the acceptable range or if a question was answered that raised concern about the current health of the individual. This multi-faceted, innovative kiosk was the first of its kind and will become a standard in safety protocols across the country. As an additional safety measure, Fazoli’s also added a USB UV-C light cleaner to the unit to continually sanitize and kill any bacteria or viruses that may be present on the surface of the kiosk. 

Fazoli's initiatives paid off in 2020 and beyond. In April 2021, the brand reported a 60% sales and 56% traffic increase compared to the year prior. This is on top of the brand’s March sales increase of 75.7% compared to the year prior and 34.2% over 2019.

The judges of the Industry Heroes Awards – Hospitality Technology staff and advisory board members – were so impressed with Fazoli’s pandemic pivot.

See what CIO Wayne Pederson has to say about Fazoli's 2020 accomplishments. (60 second video.) 

The Industry Heroes Awards, presented at MURTEC on April 14, recognize both restaurants and technology suppliers for exemplary contributions to the restaurant industry in 2020. Fazoli's was one of eight Industry Hero award winners at the 26th annual MURTEC (Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference), which was held virtually, “online everywhere” on April 13 and 14. The winners of the 2021 Industry Heroes Awards are: CMXConcept Entertainment GroupDickey’s Barbecue Pit, Fazoli’s, Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems, Inc., OneDine, Punchh and Revel Systems.

Top Women in Restaurant Technology and Industry Heroes winners were chosen by Hospitality Technology magazine and members of its Research Advisory Board. Winners will be profiled in the Summer 2021 issue of Hospitality Technology magazine and in digital profiles on in the coming weeks. 

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