Mobile commerce has really struck a chord in the mind of consumers these days. We’ve already discussed how people love their cell phones, so why not make your restaurant accessible through an app? That’s exactly what our friends at BJ’s did. The team at BJ’s (an upscale casual dining group of restaurants primarily found in the Western US states and Florida) released what they consider to be a game changer for the casual dining industry with their new mobile app.
BJ’s was facing several issues when coming up with the app. First, this chain often sees long waits at many of their stores, a deterrent to some in considering a place to dine. The team also faces strong competition coming out of the fast casual space. In order to combat both of these with one fell swoop, the team developed an iOS and Android app to help differentiate themselves from all of the other fast casual restaurants.
BJ’s worked closely with their front desk solution as well as their POS provider to allow the user to order ahead before arriving at the restaurant. When your table is seated, your order is automatically sent to the kitchen. BJ’s CEO Greg Trojan believes this feature will decrease overall dining time by 25 minutes, creating a better, more efficient dining experience for the guest, but also increasing table turns and decreasing waiting times for those who opt not to pre-order. It also increases efficiency in their takeout and delivery services.
Another game-changing aspect of the BJ’s mobile app is the seamless integration with their loyalty program. As most of us know, loyalty results in increased repeat business, increased brand recognition, and increased sales and word-of-mouth marketing. By integrating loyalty into the mobile app, patrons are earning rewards points almost inadvertently. They don’t have to remember their card, depend on a waiter to remind them of the loyalty program, or any other number of loyalty-program hardships. By integrating the app with their loyalty, BJ’s will also see more consistent data into consumer purchasing behavior to help make other data-based decisions.
BJ’s also tackled the mobile payment topic head on in its new app. In conjunction with the loyalty program, the customer can now also pay for their order through the mobile app. This is not only exciting for the BJ’s team, but it’s an exciting initiative for the fast casual industry. Mobile payments have been hot on the list of upcoming trends for the past several months. BJ’s app is one of the first truly successful integrations we have seen.
BJ’s has jumped ahead of those at Chili’s and Applebee’s because they have embraced the “BYOD” movement instead of depending on tableside kiosks (though these provide some value, too!), all while creating a better, more convenient guest environment while collecting customer data in real time. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Do you think more casual dining brands will adopt this type of technology?