Remember the days when “updating the menu” meant firing up the laser printer or sliding slats out of the menu board?
With the increase in digital ordering – both on- and off-premise – menu management has taken on a whole new meaning. Savvy operators are leveraging integrated solutions that streamline operations and increase efficiencies.
But first, restaurants that are looking to survive and thrive should start by getting a handle on their inventory.
“The No. 1 reason restaurants fail is because of the lack of cost control,” said Cihan Cobanoglu, CHTP, McKibbon Endowed Chair & Director of M3 Center, University of South Florida.
Smokey Bones' Digital Transformation
Brian Wallunas joined Smokey Bones as Chief Digital and Technical Officer in July 2019 to oversee an A to Z tech overhaul.
In March 2020 Smokey Bones completed the comprehensive update -- including hardware and software upgrades, security enhancements, telecom upgrade, third-party delivery integration, and a new ecommerce platform.
The impetus was the brand’s new ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ vision that puts customers in charge of their experience, he said. It “was really around providing our guests options and multiple ways to order our Smokey Bones’ food and engage with the brand.” Digital ordering and adding curbside and delivery were on the to-do list. The old infrastructure, he said, wasn’t going to work.
"The impetus was providing choice, service and hospitality through digital platforms to our guests, and to get there, we needed to overhaul our infrastructure," Wallunas explained.
“So rather than be constrained, we decided to invest in the infrastructure and get to a platform that was stable and scalable so that we could then participate in more modern software,” Wallunas explained. “That was really our biggest constraint that, fortuitously, we executed prior to COVID, which really put us in a position of strength when COVID became a reality.”
The initiative has driven customer engagement and improved productivity and operations — allowing its employees to focus on serving up hospitality.
Behind the scenes, Smokey Bones teamed up with Omnivoreas its third-party marketplace integration partner for all of its brands and tapped ToGo Technologies as its direct-to-consumer eCommerce platform. With Omnivore, Smokey Bones was able to craft a coherent digital menu, ditch the tablets and directly inject orders into the POS system, minimizing errors and reducing labor costs.
“With Omnivore, we launched a fully integrated platform across multiple DSPs and our eCommerce website overnight,” Brian Wallunas, Smokey Bones’ Chief Digital and Technical Officer, explained.
Omnivore worked with Smokey Bones to build a single POS-integrated master menu across Uber Eats, Door Dash and its direct-to-consumer ordering website, using its Menu Management System. That was orchestrated with relative ease – thanks to an A-to-Z tech overhaul that was completed in March 2020 and included hardware and software upgrades, security enhancements, telecom upgrade, third-party delivery integration, and a new ecommerce platform; the ambitious project realized a 100% ROI in six months.