PX Think Beyond: Panera’s Blaine Hurst talks restaurant experience in a tech-forward future
Paytronix recently launched a recurring webinar series featuring some of the top trailblazers in the restaurant and convenience industries. PX Think Beyond is designed to highlight how top executives’ forward thinking transformed their respective brands and enabled them to thrive. The series is hosted by Arjun Sen, CEO of ZenMango and a former Fortune 500 executive.
Watch the first episode for an intimate conversation between Blaine Hurst, former president and CEO of Panera Bread, and Andrew Robbins, CEO of Paytronix Systems, on the future of restaurants.
In this talk, Hurst shares his vision for the future of restaurants, noting that experience and hospitality still comes first. For his part, Robbins looks to the future of omnichannel restaurant experiences, when guests will have the power to choose their own paths to engaging with brands — whether that be on- or off-premises dining — and expresses how important it is for brands to take those interactions to a new, personalized level.
Blaine opens the conversation with the idea that the best way to lead a brand is to create a culture of dissatisfaction where team members believe that the status quo is simply not good enough. Instead, it’s important to believe that everything can be made better.
Andrew looks at the same thing from a slightly different but overlapping point of view and suggests that brands need to create a culture of paranoia around the guest experience. Think, Andrew suggests, about how to increase the lifetime value of each guest and, by extension, rapidly increase the brand’s value.
Blaine and Andrew’s top strategies for getting to know guests include:
- Understanding their past behavior and where they are going to be in the future;
- Being inquisitive, always asking questions, and never making assumptions;
- Talking to as many people as possible and learning from every conversation;
- Constantly questioning what is possible.
Each failure is an opportunity. Blaine talks about smart failure and dumb failure and the need to pursue everything, even if it does not turn out to be right. After all, you cannot bat at 100%. If an exploration is approaching a dead end, stop. Take the learning and move on.
Personalization is key. Understand why people act the way they do. Why do some guests prefer certain menu items? Why do some order online, while others continue to visit the store? Understand individual preferences for each member of a family – each is different. Personalization is so much more than using an algorithm to put guests in a group. Segments are important, but they should lead to better consumer experiences.
Predict the future. Try to imagine where guest experience is going next. How are lifestyles and work lives changing, and how should your brand operations evolve to meet these changes? How will tomorrow’s technology alter the dine-in landscape, or foster new virtual opportunities for engagement?
Catch up on Episode 1 of PX Think Beyond for the full conversation with Blaine Hurst and Andrew Robbins as they share their secrets on how to think beyond and take a brand to the next level. Learn how to turn insights into action in a two- to three-year time frame to deliver big wins for your brand.
Sign up for a seat at the table as Paytronix continues Think Beyond to hear from more visionary leaders from top restaurant and convenience store brands about how to drive the industry forward in a challenging market. New episodes in the series will be available throughout 2021.