With a robust digital ordering and off-premise strategy in place, Teriyaki Madness was able to adapt to COVID-19 shutdowns and consumers’ rapidly growing preference for online ordering.
“It has been an incredibly tough year,” says Jodi Boyce, VP of marketing. “Casual dining was hit the most, but we’ve seen a few silver linings with COVID. Our brand has been thriving in the past year. We’ve been growing so much.”
Boyce is quick to give credit to the brand’s robust tech that was in place before the pandemic: Olo for integrated digital ordering with Revel POS and a robust mobile app and loyalty program from Punchh.
“We didn’t have to pivot too much,” explains Boyce. “We did turn on curbside functionality. It wasn’t part of our brand before.”
Off premises, including curbside pickup, has become a necessity for restaurants. According to HT's 2020 Customer Engagement Technology Study, 61% of customers say curbside pickup at restaurants is important to them.
Teriyaki Madness was already offering delivery through its app and participating on third-party delivery marketplaces. “We had third-party delivery. We had an app and loyalty. We were lucky we were able to crank it up,” she said.
Changing with the Times
Before the shutdown, customers were not heavy users of Teriyaki Madness' digital ordering options.
“Another silver lining for us – so many consumers were forced to use technology for the first time. (Previously it was) used by at least half of our customers who use it now,” Boyce says.
The brand posted 145% growth in sales thru the app and online in 2020 vs 2019, Boyce states. And guests who are members of the loyalty program are spending 16-19% more.
“It proves how important a loyalty program is. They’re spending more and coming back more often,” she adds.
In 2020, Teriyaki Madness opened 30 locations. With those newer stores, the company has seen a “quicker adoption rate” for online ordering/mobile app.
Some locations have been open 10-15 years, and customers patronizing those locations have been a bit slower in adopting digital ordering. “It has been hard to get those,” says Boyce.
The brand has had its loyalty program for about 2 years. “We have extremely valuable data we can start using,” she adds.
This year, Teriyaki Madness is “prepping for massive growth” and plans to open 40-50 locations.
The goal is to get more customers on the app and entice them to use the brand’s loyalty and digital ordering. Teriyaki Madness doesn’t overly discount through their loyalty program. They strategically use discounts to shorten the gap between visits and reward guests who visit regularly, Boyce explains.
With the surge in mobile ordering and preference for off-prem, restaurants are rethinking their brick-and-mortar stores. In some cases that means a smaller or no dining room altogether. Teriyaki Madness is no exception; franchisees are looking at opening locations with smaller dine-in areas.
‘We don’t need a big dining room anymore. We are looking for smaller spaces for dine-in and are looking to add more space to the kitchen, as we’re cranking out more food,” Boyce says.
The brand is looking at adding second make lines and larger grills, as all orders are made fresh to order.
A few locations have pickup windows, a few locations have drive-thru, explains Boyce, but curbside is being offered at most all locations.
“We are putting our stake in the ground for curbside. Just about every shop can do it.”
An app update lets guests add their car’s make and model, and when they arrive, they can click “I’m here” to have their order brought out.
The next phase will be to add geofencing. “We want to be on our way out the door when the customer is arriving.”
Curbside is here for the foreseeable future, Boyce says. “Now that consumers have had a taste of it, it is not going away.”
When it comes to tech innovation, Teriyaki Madness wants to be ahead of the curve. Before COVID Teriyaki Madness felt confident it was on the leading edge. Now, other brands have rapidly deployed technology and caught up. Looking for what’s next, Teriyaki Madness is keeping a watchful eye on delivery drones; Federal Aviation Administration has issued new rules that will clear a hurdle for companies to use drones for delivering goods.
“We want to get food in people’s hands faster and easier,” she says.
Some brands have been dabbling looking at adding in-house or native delivery. And while the brand does offer in-house delivery for catering orders it is not looking at expanding to individual orders.
“We had a long discussion about testing native delivery a few years ago,” and decided against it, says Boyce. It seemed like a separate business with its own insurance issues. Instead, the brand is looking to curbside and continuing with third-party delivery.