HT caught up with Jason Morgan, CEO of Original ChopShop to talk about current challenges, how they're recruiting new team members and future tech plans.
HT: What are the biggest challenges you're facing?
Jason Morgan, CEO of Original ChopShop: The greatest challenges that our brands face today are managing the continued cost pressure in both labor and cost of goods sold. We are fortunate because we were able to maintain most of our core Shop-level teams through the pandemic while also paying out more than 100% of manager bonuses in 2020. This in turn has created additional loyalty to the brand while at the same time providing continuity for our guests. Most notably, we've struggled with sourcing team hourly team members which has led to the implementation of several tech solutions to recruit, hire and train our team in unique ways which in turn should foster increased retention. Like others, when it comes to sourcing the ingredients and products needed to run our business, we've seen large price increases as well as availability issues in proteins and to-go packaging. So far, we have been able to absorb these costs increases due to the outstanding sales results for both brands.
HT: What role does technology play in hiring? managing? training and maintaining your workforce?
Morgan: Our technology systems are an integral part of hiring, training and maintaining our workforce. From our applicant tracking system, Hirebridge to our onboarding solution, Fourth, to our interactive training program, 1Huddle, our technology partners have allowed us to streamline our people processes, making operating more efficient and effective.
HT: What solutions are you using regarding your workforce?
Morgan: We are currently utilizing a number of tech solutions to recruit and manage our workforce. Most notably, we've recently partnered with 1Huddle, an interactive training system that digitally gamifies new material to engage team members while also using repetition techniques to improve information recall. We've seen exciting early results from this implementation and expect that to continue.
HT: How do you use social media?
Morgan: Social media is one of the greatest brand tools that we have at our disposal. We use social media as a real time way to connect our brand with guests, engaging them in human media conversations and sharing culturally relevant content. Social media has allowed us to connect with our biggest fans and inspire a sense of community amongst them. We also use social media to gauge consumers' reactions and interest in menu items and new technology programs, like our Chops loyalty app. Social media allows our brand to have two way communications with our guests, allowing them to share real, honest feedback in a timely manner.
HT:OriginalChopShop uses Olo for online ordering. How has online ordering evolved?
Morgan: Olo is still our online ordering platform. The Chops Loyalty program is hosted by Paytronix, which is integrated with Olo to create a seamless in-app ordering experience. We partner with third-party delivery platforms like DoorDash, Uber Eats and ezCater. These orders are integrated into our POS via Olo Rails.
HT: In Q3 2021,69% of Original ChopShop's direct digital orders were placed through the app. Impressive! What does this mean for the future?
Morgan: Yes, we actually anticipate the app continuing to be adopted as guests' preferred ordering method, so this percentage will likely grow in 2022.
HT: What tech changes/additions are on the horizon?
Morgan: We have done a great job laying the technology groundwork for scalable brand growth over the last several years. In the next 1-2 years, we'll be focused on absorbing all of the relatively new technology platforms that we've implemented like our loyalty program and app, gamified training system, applicant tracking system, and online ordering platform. We are currently considering options for a more sophisticated curbside pickup solution and kiosk ordering.
HT: What's next?
Morgan: Yes, we are excited to open Shop 17 in Houston in the River Oaks area next month. We'll also be opening our fourth market of Atlanta in Q2 and we're anticipating opening an additional 3 shops in the second half of the year.