Were you able to make it to this year’s National Restaurant Association show in Chicago? Join Ryan and Jeremy as they discuss the top 5 takeaways from this year’s show and how they will impact your restaurant!
Ryan: All right, guys. Welcome back to the Restaurant Technology Guys podcast. I’m Ryan Williams, and I’m joined today, it’s my honor and pleasure to be joined by Jeremy Julian. Jeremy, what’s going on today?
Jeremy: You didn’t come in too hot that time. Not too much. Not enough coffee this morning? Or what?
Ryan: Not a lot of coffee and to be honest with you guys, our listeners out there, I am dog tired because I just flew back from the National Restaurant Association show, the NRA show 2018, in Chicago. I was out there, as far as the Restaurant Technology Guys go, I was flying solo out there. Jeremy had some parental duties he had to take care of back here in the homeland. I was out there by myself gathering a bunch of information for this particular podcast. I am more than excited to share this stuff with you guys, but I’m tired.
Jeremy: I can imagine. I know we talk about it often, when we go to these shows, they’re 12, 14, 16 hour days. Lot of hours, talking a lot of hours on your feet. I appreciate you holding down the fort the Restaurant Technology Guys. I do recall you telling me at some point that you had a fan come up to you. Can you tell a little bit about that story?
Ryan: I do. It was, yeah actually, what happened was we were in the CBS booth. One of our colleagues, Calvin Graves, big shout out to Calvin Graves. I was eavesdropping on their conversation and the guy was like, “I listen to this podcast and they talk about this NorthStar thing every once in a while. I saw it and I had to stop by.” Calvin was like, “Oh, you listen to the Restaurant Technology Guys podcast. You need to talk to Ryan.” I came over and I’m like, “Hey, what’s going on?” He’s like, “It’s you.”
Jeremy: That’s hilarious.
Ryan: It was a surreal moment and anyone that I’ve told about, because it was only me and Calvin in the booth at that point. I’ve told all the other people that were the show, I’m like, “Yeah, this happened. It’s cool.” And they didn’t believe me. They didn’t believe me, and so I believe the gentleman was with the Pita Pit organization. If you’re out there, hit us up on Twitter @Resttechguys. I apologize, I don’t recall your name right off the top of my head. I know I wrote it down. I only talk to probably only 10,000 people that weekend. I apologize I don’t remember your name, but thank you so much for stopping by. Guys, honestly, we talk about where we’re going to go. You can go visit us on RestaurantTechnologyGuys.com. We talk about where we’re going to go. We love talking with you guys in person as well. It doesn’t have to be a sales pitch, it doesn’t have to be anything super strenuous or stressful, just stop by, say hey. Say you listen to the podcast and honestly, we love the feedback and we truly do take what you guys want to hear into consideration as we’re building out our topic series.
Jeremy: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Ryan: That was really cool. It was really cool.
Jeremy: And I can tell you, I was one of those people that didn’t quite believe Ryan until he told me the whole story. You know what? We’ve said it before, we definitely want to see you guys when we’re out at these shows. Number one, please feel free to stop by, say hi. Hit us up, or you know where we’re gonna be, let us know to keep an eye out for you and we will.
Ryan: To be honest with you guys, we love talking to other people. I know some of you may go to trade shows. Some of you may even work trade shows if you’re trying to franchise or something. But, it breaks up the monotony and after five days of being with the same three or four people, trust me, any break in that day is absolutely welcome. Thanks for that. Again, hit us up on Twitter @resttechguys, visit our website RestaurantTechnologyGuys.com, keep up with us exactly. You’ll see where we’re gonna go, you can sign up for our newsletter. You’ll also figure out where we’re gonna be, what trade shows we’re hitting up or anything like that.
Ryan: Without much more ado, Jeremy, let’s go ahead and guys, what we’re going to talk about today, give you the idea how this format’s gonna flow, I’m gonna talk about some of the things that I saw at the NRA. I think we’re gonna talk about five topics. The five things that blew my mind at NRA. And then Jeremy’s going to give his color commentary on it, just because he wasn’t able to attend. After reviewing these topics with him he was like, “Man, this is how this is going to lead into this. And this is how this can connect to this.” It was remarkable watching the wheels spin in his head. I think it’ll be really cool to take a perspective from someone like Jeremy that’s been in the industry forever, to strapilate these things out and say, “What could be down the road.”
Jeremy: And much of what you saw is really a culmination of years and years of both Restaurant Technology Guys research and just what’s been going on in the industry. Many of these things that Ryan’s going to talk about that are coming to fruition, we’ve been talking about. Whether it be on the podcast, webinars, or in person for years. I think it’s a great opportunity to see these things actually that have been whether dreams of ours or thoughts of ours that are going to exist out in the world, that are actually now something that you can consider putting into your restaurant and putting into practice.
Ryan: Yeah. Even just the speculations. It’s cool to see it be like, “What if this happens?” And then it happens. It’s pretty cool. I know we’ve thrown some ideas around on the Restaurant Technology Guys podcast, probably million dollar ideas we’re still looking for our royalties on those if that happens. Don’t forget about us guys. The little guys out there. Jeremy, the first thing that I saw, and if anyone went to the NRA show you saw pictures of this little guy everywhere, but robotics. The one I’m referring to, it was in start up alley. I happen to be in a booth that was directly across from start up alley, so I got to see this little guy do his work. Robotics was everywhere, and I’m referring more to the stereotypical robotics. There was a little robot drone, essentially, that would run around delivering food to people. It was funny. It was cool. It had lights on it. It was neat. It was a little spacey. I’m trying to remember, what was the robot with the … Danger Will Robinson, that guy? You know who I’m talking about, but anyway-
Jeremy: All I could think about was Rosie from the Jetsons.
Ryan: Almost like Rosie.
Jeremy: Rosie from the Jetsons. The show ended in 1963. I had to go look it up real quick and the Jetsons ended in 1963. Over 50 years ago it ended, and they now finally have a Rosie robot to deliver your food.
Ryan: And I think Rosie pulled it out of her sternum.
Ryan: This guy just had it resting on a tray.
Jeremy: It was sitting on his head.
Ryan: Exactly. That was by Bear Robotics, and they didn’t pay to have any sponsorship on this podcast, but Bear Robotics, they were running it around. It was a cool thing and you saw pictures of this little guy everywhere. It made a pretty big splash at the show, but robotics was huge, even in the back of house, in the kitchen areas you have these automated things happening now. These robotic burger flippers or these robotic sushi makers, where typically you’d have to have maybe two or three people on the burger station. Maybe two or three people on the fry machine.
Ryan: There were, Jeremy, a lot of these rather, I’ll call them simple, although I don’t know if rolling a sushi roll would be considered simple. It’s an art form in hand, right? Some of these rather simple tasks are being quickly taken over, or at least there are solutions being provided for robotics. Flipping burgers or dumping fries at a specific time and pulling them out after a specific time. What do you think, even going from that Bear Robotics with delivery of food or the kitchen automation, the robotics in the kitchen, what do you think the impact is going to be with robotics in the next three to five years?
Jeremy: I think in general, we’ve seen the stuff coming. The sushi roller guy has been there for a while. Not that I frequent the McDonald’s, but the McDonald’s around the corner from our office here has a soda filler, that based on what’s happening with the KDS, it’s going to take a large cup and fill it with ice to the level that it needs to and then fill it with the Diet Coke, or the Coca Cola that is to be filled for that order. It’s a robot that’s doing all of these things. Where I think it’s going to impact the industry, those that are naysayers are going to say, “It’s just taking jobs away. They’re trying to figure out how to get rid of the jobs.” My argument is the opposite. I think it’s taking things that don’t require, necessarily, a strong amount of skill and automating them to allow the human element to come back into the hospitality industry.
Jeremy: From that perspective we’ve talked multiple times about kiosks and how McDonald’s and different brands are driving those different innovations, as far as automating some of the processes within the restaurants. But, I think what’s going to happen is, as people start to adopt these types of robots, and this type of technology, what’s going to end up ultimately happening is that the job is going to shift. The burger flippers no longer going to need to flip burgers because you’re going to have a robot doing that. But now it’s going to be more on the how do I prepare that burger, or how do I order the correct amount of food. Or how do I deliver it to the guest. That same labor rate that you were spending flipping burgers, doing something that can now be automated, is now going to turn into a better speed of service, more served guests, more hospitality in the front of the house, and less in the back of the house.
Ryan: Or you find things like, you’re not spending as much on labor, or your process is efficient, has become more efficient so you can move more guests through so you’re more profitable. You can start dumping money back into R&D. Not saying that McDonald’s is going to ever be a gourmet burger, in my opinion, it is borderline gourmet anyway. You hear them talking about, “We’re able to improve the quality of our beef. We’re able to improve the cook time.” I just heard an ad today that said that McDonald’s cooks the burger when you order it now.
Jeremy: I know. I actually almost had McDonald’s in the last 72 hours because I saw that same advertisement.
Ryan: I’m like, okay, everything’s rising. All the quality. You’re exactly right. Maybe instead of paying three people to sit there and just stare at a flat top and flip a burger every two minutes, maybe they’re actually crafting the sides. Maybe they’re crafting the garnish on that burger, and because you’ve mitigated a lot of the costs along that process, your cost of that item, and the cost of the labor to get it to the guest, is the same. You can deliver a much superior product for the same cost to both the guest, and to your business.
Jeremy: I whole heartedly agree. I think that if thought about properly, it’s going to increase the guest experience, if done well. Obviously, you get the flip side that says, “We’re just going to cut all the labor and it’s all going to be robotics.” And there may be brands that go that way, and I think it might fit for some consumers. But at the end of the day, I think people, I harken back to a conversation I had with the founder of the Cheesecake Factory, probably close to 20 years ago. People that go out to eat, there’s a couple of different experiences. One is just to get nourished, and then the other is to have an experience. And his thing is, “You come to the Cheesecake Factory for an experience.” If you’re looking to go for an experience, you want that experience. The robotics needs to enhance that experience. And you can make your commentary on that.
Ryan: Little bow tie. A little bow tie on the robot.
Jeremy: Yeah. That enhances that experience.
Ryan: That just really puts the cherry on the top.
Jeremy: And again, I think what’s going to end up happening, I think what’s going to end up happening is the … Hopefully the brands take these robotics that are now becoming part of main place within our industry, and are going to use them to enhance the guest experience, rather than just to drive more profit to the bottom line. And I think the opportunity is there for them to do both. I think they can increase the quality, increase the guest experience, and potentially still make the same amount of profit or more.
Ryan: Are restaurant operations innately good? That’s a topic for another time. You did mention something in there, Jeremy, that leads us into our next topic, the next thing that I saw a bunch of, and that’s automation. And again, Jeremy, you said it before and you said it best, a lot of the stuff that we’re going to be talking about today guys, a lot of the stuff is exactly what we’ve been talking about, it’s just coming to fruition. It’s coming to reality. A lot of the automation that’s out there now, is really streamlining the full restaurant experience. From, “Hey, I’m running an app. I’ve ordered on my phone. I walk in, a beacon pings me.” There were some proximity companies there. Once it does that, it fires to the kitchen, it knows that I’m here, etc., etc, etc., there are things back there, the automation in the cooking process. It knows that the internal cooking temperature is of the meat and so it can be pulled off immediately so it’s not overcooked, not undercooked, and there’s not someone there monitoring and babysitting it.
Ryan: On the bar side, there were cloud based liquid dispenser monitoring, even on the delivery side, connecting the automation for getting the food from the kitchen to the Uber Eats or the Door Dashes of the world. All of that, there’s solutions out there today that are automating all of that process. It’s absolutely remarkable what was out there, and to be honest with you guys, I did not have a huge amount of time to dive super deep into the floor. All of this just happened within probably my half of the show. If you guys have been to the show you know that they sectioned it off into three sections. North, south, and that lakeside over there. You have to walk about 13 miles to get over there, half a marathon. Just on the south side where we were, this is all the stuff that I saw, just on our side alone. Jeremy, talk a little bit about restaurant automation and how it’s going to play a role here in the next few years.
Jeremy: I don’t think that the results are going to a whole lot different than the robotics conversation, as it relates to automation. I think what’s going to ultimately happen is there’s things like automatic temperature monitoring on the kitchen line to know that you’re doing your line checks, to refrigerator, freezer temperature checking and automating things to happen. You’ve got automation with, no different in your home where your HVAC turns on, turns off based on times of day, based on traffic flow, based on if this than that happens.
Jeremy: Many of those types of things on the automated side are happening within restaurant technology. People reading sales data from your cloud point of sale to know sales are going up so we need to drop certain burgers at a certain amount of time. I’ve got X amount of burgers that need to come in because I’ve got this traffic pattern flow that’s coming in. And so, a lot of the interconnectivity is continuing to happen. Automated food ordering, so you know I’ve got a certain amount of flow coming through based on sales data, I need to have this amount of raw ingredients and interconnecting those things. Continue to happen every day.
Ryan: Even things, just you were talking about the inventory stuff, even there were some solutions there. One is actually a guest that we’ll have on the show here in a couple weeks, even going to the level that it will automatically screen your invoices for high spikes or any deviations from averages of your food cost, so you can then call those suppliers and identify why that food cost spiked, and then it will identify all the menu items that that food is associated with to see what the profitability of that food item is, to see if it’s even worth keeping on your menu.
Ryan: That all happens without you even doing anything. It’s crazy town.
Jeremy: And all of that AI stuff and being able to look at the actual data to be able to understand that is really some of the part of automation. And being able to capture the data, interconnect the data, and then be able to drive better business decisions ultimately should deliver better value to the guest for the same dollars.
Ryan: Even something as simple as, we have friends over at APG cash drawer, again, not a paid promotion for their product or anything like that, they have a smart till, they call it their smart till and I got a little demo of that guy. I told me, I took a random assortment of bills and change out, and it told me exactly how much money I pulled out of the till. And then it shot it up to the cloud to go against the cash reporting.
Jeremy: To go against the point of sale transaction, to know that you actually took the right change. That’s always been a problem for bars, is that they’ll end up having people that will be skimming drinks off of them and taking the wrong change out, or playing different games with the cash till. Automating the cash till management it’s incredible how much this technology continues to enhance the restaurant experience.
Ryan: Everywhere. A cash till is a cash till. How hard can it be to pop a cash drawer open, take some ones out and put it back in. It’s absolutely crazy. That brings us into our third point here, Jeremy. We talked a little bit, I think we even meshed them up a little bit, but is that cloud connection. Everything, it seems like everything today is connected to the cloud. From the loyalty system, to your point of sale system. God knows that there were probably 10, 12 point of sale systems, cloud based point of sale systems there this year. All of the loyalty, all of your cash tills, your music, your liquor dispensers, your inventory, everything is in the cloud. Even your refrigerators. You can manage your refrigerators from your smart phone. You can manage your ovens, your walk ins, everything. It’s hugely cloud based. Everything is moving up into the cloud.
Ryan: And so really what I had a lot of conversation about, how do you manage all of these different cloud solutions? You have your POS, your hardware, and your softwares and they’re all tied together and they all have to work seamlessly. How do we mesh all these together and make sure that it’s easy to manage? Jeremy, talk a little bit about what cloud, that cloud interconnectivity is gonna mean. The industry is answering the problem or answering the question of how do we easily manage all of this stuff.
Jeremy: Well, and I know we had a full podcast on the cost of tech coming down, and the cost of these apps coming into the market space. We talked with Mike Wire probably a year ago from Omnivore, who they really are trying to interconnect point of sale systems to all these cloud connected systems. And are doing a great job in the industry solving some of those problems. They’re not the only ones, there’s lots of others that are out there that are connecting these different pieces. That all being said, everybody is looking to the consumer technology and now saying, “How do I take my lighting system, my blind system, my television system, my HVAC at my house, my fire alarms?” All those different things, and they’re looking at what they’re seeing on the consumer side and they’re now saying, “How do I get that same form of automation into my restaurant to connect those things. Whether it’s a loyalty app or it’s a customer engagement deal from surveys, tie that back to the point of sale.
Jeremy: Everything is continuing to be interconnected and whether … I shouldn’t say whether. Between Google and Facebook, they’ve done a good job of setting the tone that says, here is how you connect to us, through Facebook connect and Google connect, that you now can share these data points. More and more of the point of sale companies and these third parties that are trying to get into those systems, are now looking for these open APIs to be able to talk back and forth, and be able to … I’ll give a quick shout out to our buddy Jordan Thaler out there because he’s been preaching this for a couple of years. The advent of cloud point of sale is going to end up making these connectivity points so much simpler than some of the older technologies that were out there that were file based and were harder to interconnect.
Jeremy: Ryan‘s point, there’s a lot of new tech out there, but there’s also a lot of these third party apps that are trying to solve a specific business need. What is that specific business need? What a high end, high volume bar needs is not the same as what a fast causal sandwich place needs. And so, what are the unique needs that are in these different segments, and how are people trying to solve them? This interconnectivity in these cloud based tools are less expensive to run, less expensive to get up and running, and less expensive to deploy. We’re going to continue to see a proliferation of this type of technology, continue to invade our space. And be wise about it. We’ve talked about it and we’ve had a whole podcast on how to adapt and adopt some of these solutions that are out there. But, there’s lots of different people that are going to be calling you on a daily basis to try and get you to help solve what it is that you need.
Ryan: Well, what was interesting Jeremy, is the conversations that I was having with operators. It wasn’t even so much that they were, “Hey, I want a cloud based point of sale, because I want accessibility to my data.” We did have that conversation, but the operators themselves, even the one and two store, historically the lowest tech budgets, the smallest budgets, the smallest operations, they were coming up and saying, “Do we have access to your API documentation? Can I pull in others with open APIs and do we integrate?” The sophistication of the operators on the full spectrum, has completely changed. And some of the conversations that I have with 100 and 200 store locations is the same as the one and two locations.
Ryan: And what makes this absolutely awesome, is with the right partners, it doesn’t matter if you’re a 100 location, or a two store location.
Jeremy: You don’t need a full IT department of 100 people anymore to get interconnectivity between your systems.
Ryan: Exactly. It is literally a simple plug and play and make sure it’s operating harmoniously. That was a really interesting part of it, too. We did also talk in point of sale, Jeremy. I don’t know, number four here is our point of sale discussion. There were more point of sale companies there at NRA 2018 than I’ve ever seen before. The difference being some will be some I didn’t hear about last year, and there were some that I saw last year that I didn’t see this year. And there were some that I’ll see this year, that I probably won’t see next year. That’s the name of the game. Talk a little bit about the rise of POS and what is the importance and why are we seeing, if you went to the NRA show, I’m sure you would agree with me, that you turn around and another point of sale company, or another order taking company, or another online ordering company. What’s the importance of that? And what is that signaling in the industry?
Jeremy: I think no different than one of our most recent podcast with the guys at Square Roots Kitchen, they had a vision for what they wanted to do with their brand, and they said, “You know what? It’s going to be easier for us just to do this.” The barrier to entry, no different than on the cloud connectivity and the collaboration conversation that we just had. The barrier to entry to writing tech is much lower, I guess, nowadays. And so, people will go try to do these things. The POS has always been the technology hub of any restaurant. We’ve talked about that multiple times and choosing the right point of sale is paramount to making sure that you can do the things that you want to do.
Jeremy: Many of these companies are startups that have been funded through some methodology where they say, “You know what? I want to be able to solve this unique case.” And they’re now going out to the largest restaurant show in the country and saying, “You know what? Is this a market?” And that’s really them dipping their toe in the water. They might have 25 installs, 50 installs, 100 installs of their system, but the barrier to entry on technology continues to lower to the point that because it continues to lower, many of the people that are running these companies, grew up with tech. Many of them grew up, at least the last 10 years, with the iPhone. 11 years now coming up on 11 years, with a touchscreen in their hands. They’re very familiar with connecting these things and how simple it can be. They’re saying, “You know what? Let’s take a swing at it and let’s figure out is it something that we can make a business out of?” In addition, potentially, to running a restaurant. It’s the guys at Square Roots Kitchen.
Ryan: I think you were spot on. It’s never been more accessible. And the need has never been greater. Absolutely a huge opportunity for people running these point of sale companies. But for the attendees of the NRA show, let’s say next year our listeners are like, “Hey, I was listening to that RTG podcast and they were talking about this really cool trade show, NRA, it was in Chicago. Chicago’s a cool town. I’m gonna go.” How do the attendees, how would they parse through or what should they ask when they’re pursuing all of these different options? How do you weed out the … I said, and it’s nothing against any of these companies, it’s just a fact of the matter is, some were there last year that weren’t there this year. And some won’t be there next year that were there this year. How do they identify whose on a good trajectory, or who should they continue speaking with after the show?
Jeremy: I think, first and foremost, what’s your risk tolerance? How much risk do you want to take to change that point of sale? Because it is the technology hub of your business. You’ve got to be cautious about who you’re partnering with and making sure you’re selecting the right partner. And that they can meet your needs, your requirements. I know we did a full blown podcast on how to select a point of sale system and talking to your temporaries in the market, getting references, figuring those things out. I would start way, way, way earlier than that by defining why is it that you want to talk to that point of sale company. What is the pain that you’re dealing with in your current environment, and what are you trying to solve?
Jeremy: Obviously if you’re listening to us today, chances are you’ve listened to some backlog of our podcast, and you need to first define what problem you’re trying to solve before you choose a partner to solve it with. Am I a brand that wants to put in kiosks? And if I am, does this point of sale support kiosks? Do I want to have mobile ordering? And if that’s something that we want to do, does it have interconnectivity with the delivery drivers that are out there. Back to the connectivity conversation that we had talked about. Does it have an open API that I can now talk to these other third party systems? Because we don’t know what’s going to happen one, three, or five years from now.
Jeremy: Does it have the ability to talk to the robotic systems to be able to say, “Put that burger down and flip that burger.” Those are the types of things that you need to look into the future and say, “Are these guys on the right platform to be able to help me grow my restaurant as I’m trying to decide what it is that I want my restaurant to be?” Once you’ve defined that, then the questions become much simpler as to how you’re going to get there. Then the second thing I would say, not to continue to speak too much, but just make sure that they’re a stable company. That they’ve been around, that you can get actual references from people that are actually using the product to understand how they’re using it, how have they been successful with it. Are they just saying that they do it, or can you actually go somewhere and see this kiosk? Or this mobile ordering. Or whatever these things are that you’ve defined as your brand needs.
Ryan: Yeah, I think that’s pretty key. To our listeners out there, I got pitched a lot of things as I was walking around, and I just wanted to see what was going on. You have to be very careful at these trade shows, because they do tend to sell a lot of capability, and really the proof has to be in the pudding. You have to be able to go somewhere and actually see it, or talk to someone who’s using it. It’s just that easy, because it’s so easy for some people to say that they can do XYZ and they really can’t. We all know, but just putting it out there as the RTG word of warning.
Ryan: Jeremy, the last thing that really I saw that was a huge, huge opportunity for our listeners, was the loyalty aspect and the customer engagement. There were so many unique ways that people are approaching loyalty and engagement, that it goes as simple as, “Here’s a touch screen kiosk and it’s got a happy face or a frowny face. How was your experience? Happy? Sad?” That’s engagement. That’s feedback. That’s loyalty. That’s how you improve. All the way to selling big chunks of almost like Groupons through your own loyalty … I was talking to one company and they sell … You can go buy $500.00 worth of food expense, 500 bucks is just the number I made up, but you could go buy a big chunk of food expense and go and use their system, almost like a debit-
Jeremy: Debit, yeah.
Ryan: Almost like a debit card. That’s loyalty. And it’s really interesting some of the unique ways that people have attacked that whole thought of loyalty and engagement, and how people have really taken a different perspective on it. Of course, all of the different technologies. Even in our NorthStar booth, I had the kiosk conversation, way, way more times. I was sharing with you before we started recording, labor. That labor conversation of labors out of control, I can’t afford to hire someone else. What kind of technology solutions do you have? To not only keep people, keep my labor costs in check but keep people ordering and ordering more. And this and that. How do I spend a little bit of money and get a lot of return for it. I’m like that’s the age old question, isn’t it.
Jeremy: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Ryan: The kiosk conversation of digital order takers and all of that happened more than I would care to admit. What are you seeing in terms of these loyalties and these different engagement strategies? How is that going to impact the restaurant industry moving forward?
Jeremy: There’s really three ways to increase your sales. You either get new customers in the door, you get the customers you already have to come back more often, or you get the customers that you have to spend more money. Those three options have been the three options that restaurants have had forever. Get new customers, get the same customers to come in more frequently, or get those customers that are infrequently to spend more money with you. All of the loyalty packages that are out there, really are looking at those second and third segments of how do I get the person in here more often. And then, how do I get them, when they’re in here, to spend more. All of the different approaches that they have done, and I think eh restaurants are now starting to catch up to some of the other industries. Whether it’s grocery, retail, Amazon has been remarkable at continuing to get wallet share from us, what we call wallet share. I have $500.00 to spend on goods and services this month on my budget, Amazon is now eating up more and more percentages of that through, whether it’s email marketing, specials, advertising-
Jeremy: Convenience. And so there’s so much of that. I think what the restaurants are saying is, “How do I increase my frequency and how do I get the people that are here, to spend more? How do I give them a little bit in order to get more?” That little bit, that might be a free dessert, but they know that free dessert might cost them $2.00 to get a $15.00 entrée that’s giving me 30 point so the bottom line, now net I’m up. Now we’ve increased frequency, or we’ve increased spend from those people. The loyalty solutions that are out there, again harkening back to the conversation about cloud connectivity and how interconnected everything is, you’ll end up having the opportunity to solve those business challenges that we just talked about, of increasing the frequency of the existing guest and getting the spend up.
Ryan: It was interesting too, Jeremy, I didn’t have an opportunity to engage with these particular brands, but Yelp was there, and Open Table was there. I know that Open Table, everyone’s got their opinion of it, good, bad, or indifferent. Yelp people have their opinion of it, good, bad, and indifferent. The fact of the matter is tools like these review sites or tools like these Open Table. For example, I’ll go to Open Table and I don’t necessarily, I want to go out to dinner but I don’t necessarily know where I want to go out to dinner. Open Table has a way of marketing and using these point systems and all this good stuff to bring me into places I may have never experienced before.
Ryan: Or they’ll tell me what’s available for a reservation at the time that I want to go, and go from there. Even the tools that just connect consumers with the brands themselves, have identified ways to do just what you were talking about. Looking at even your wait listing. Looking at your reservation system. Maybe you have your own reservation system and you’re like, “I’m not a big Open Table fan, but you know what? Maybe … ” And again, this isn’t an endorsement of Open Table over any of the others, but maybe it’s time that you look into something with Yelp. Maybe it’s time you look into something with a company like Open Table or something like that in order to expand your reach in your local market.
Jeremy: Again, I know in previous podcasts we’ve talked about some different ways to use loyalty. Whether it’s giving specials to those loyal guests that are coming in more often, whether it’s the beer of the month special, or some special batch that they might get. There’s lots of different ways to solve that problem of getting the … And to Ryan’s point, many, many people are ideating and coming up with some new ideas that you can then talk to your guests about at the show, and they were out exhibiting.
Jeremy: Across the board, I would say if you’re not already considering a loyalty program, and you don’t have a strategy, whether you’re a single unit operator or you … And you know what? You could be full every day of the week, but start to capture those guests email addresses, start to capture some way to talk to them. Facebook likes, Instagram likes, Snapchat, follows. All of these different things are different ways you can solve for interacting with those guests, because there will be a time where you’re not going to be full every night and now how do I continue to engage with those guests to keep them top of mind, keep you top of mind to be able to get them to come back more often, and/or spend more when they’re there.
Ryan: Snapchat, huh? I like that. You were like, “Snapchat … Follows.”
Jeremy: Whatever, smart ass.
Ryan: I know. It’s one of those platforms that Jeremy has not embraced just yet. We’ll get him there.
Jeremy: Ryan keeps claiming that I’m gonna get there eventually.
Ryan: We’ll get him there. It’s gonna happen.
Jeremy: I’ve not understood the draw, quite honestly.
Ryan: I’ll tell you, you see yourself with puppy dog ears enough times, you’re gonna get it. In summation, those are the five things that I saw that were really impactful to my experience at NRA 2018. If you guys haven’t gone to NRA, I would highly recommend going. The quality of attendee there, if you’re like, “Man, there’s 30,000 people there.” I think there’s 40,000 people that went this year. “That’s a lot of people, am I gonna fit in? Is there something there for me?” The answer is yes.
Jeremy: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Ryan: It ranges everyone from trade publications, to-
Jeremy: Culinary students who, people who work at the largest-
Ryan: Cooks. Chefs.
Jeremy: Restaurant brands in the world.
Ryan: Owners. It was absolutely remarkable seeing the whole mix of people and the quality is improving pretty dramatically. I would absolutely recommend that you go. Like I said, Chicago’s a really cool town anyway. If you’ve never been to Chicago, if you live in Chicago, it’s a good opportunity to get out and see a different part of the world. Even if you live there, just taking a break from your every day life to go see something new. Like I said earlier in the podcast guys, we love getting the feedback from you guys. We love meeting you at these shows. We do broadcast where we’re going to be on our blog. The easiest way to get to that is going to RestaurantTechnologyGuys.com.
Ryan: The easiest way to stay in touch with us, once you get to that blog, is by giving us your email address. We don’t spam you to death. It’s one email a month. It’s over there on the right hand side, you just drop your email address in there, click submit, and it’s the easiest way to keep on top of where we’re going to be, podcast updates, and all of our blogs for that month. Also, while you’re on the web, while you’re on the Inter webs out there, go to your favorite podcast listening platform, Stich Radio, iTunes, Overcast FM, whatever you’re listening to us on today, just give us a rating. Give us a review, give us a thumb up, give us a Snapchat follower, in Jeremy’s world there. Go and give us a rating. That way we can share the message with even more people. Jeremy, do you have anything else you’d like to add before we let our listeners go?
Jeremy: Just thank you for all listening. Thank you for the feedback that you guys already give us. And keep it coming, because we love doing this.
Ryan: Absolutely. Jeremy, thank you for your time. And to our listeners, thank you and go out there and make it a great day.
Recording: Thanks for listening to RestaurantTechnologyGuys podcast. Visit Restaurant Technology Guys.com for tips, industry insights, and more, to help you run your restaurant better.