Paytronix Posts

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.

How Technology Streamlines Subscription Programs

Subscriptions can be a boon to your bottom line, thanks to benefits like increased customer loyalty and higher per-customer purchase amounts, but if you don’t have the right technology to streamline it, achieving those advantages can become an ongoing headache.  

In the same way that subscriptions can be tailored to each restaurant or c-store customer base, technology must be flexible enough to accommodate additions and modifications, like adding referral bonuses, sending membership prompts about renewals, swapping out perks, and other features.  

[…]

Steal These Subscription Ideas

Given the potentially meaningful return on investment you can see with subscription programs, it makes sense to want to jump in with gusto. But what exactly does that entail? 

As we’ve covered in a previous blog post, there are several different models when it comes to subscription-based services, but those are only starting points. Like loyalty programs, subscriptions are completely customizable based on your restaurant or c-stores and its customers. 

Whether launching a subscription program for the first time or freshening up an existing one, here are some ideas that can set you apart from the competition: […]

5 Leadership Takeaways from PXUX 2020

This has been a year of rapid change: restaurants and convenience stores alike were forced to make quick pivots in how they approach guest engagement, technology, and business operations.

During times of tumultuous change, solid brand leadership becomes even more critical to success. During PXUX 2020, Chief Executive of Market Platform Dynamics Karen Webster led a panel of other chief executives in conversation about how the hospitality and convenience landscapes have changed over the past few months, and how they’ve positioned their brands to weather the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Speaking about their brands’ strategies were: 

  • Gus Olympidis, CEO, Family Express
  • Simon Richards, CEO,  Thorntons
  • Ray Wiley, founder, Hot Head Burritos and Rapid Fired Pizza
  • Ryan Dion, CEO, 110 Grill Restaurant Group
  • Adam Halberg, CEO, Barcelona Wine Bar

These leaders described the ways they’ve led their brands through monumental changes this year, about the investments they’ve made that are already paying off, and about how they’re supporting their employees, an essential piece of the puzzle. The panel left attendees with five key takeaways:

  1. Meet guests where they’re comfortable. Whether it’s understanding shifts in consumer behavior or using traditional loyalty channels, use technology to create multiple opportunities for the guests to engage with the brand. 
  2. Create technology ecosystems, not silos. Consumer preference and public health guidelines shift rapidly, so the guest-facing technology will need to keep pace. Ensure each piece of technology, from fuel pumps to mobile apps, works together to adapt to this changing environment. 

For the remaining three takeaways, download your free infographic here.