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:
- 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.
- 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.
The final weeks of June and early half of July ushered in a new era of the pandemic, as southern and western states that had largely evaded the worst of Covid-19 became new virus hotspots. The rising number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations forced many states to order restaurants shutter their dining rooms – again – and meant fewer drivers on the road as other businesses wound down operations.
Despite the setback, Paytronix data shows that the restaurant industry’s recovery has slowed, but not reversed. In late March and into early April, restaurant sales dropped to 30% of pre-COVID levels. Starting in the middle of April we saw sales recover at a rate of 0.4% – 0.5% per day, reaching 70% of pre-COVID levels by the July 4th weekend. […]
Kowloon Restaurant in Saugus, Massachusetts has been a regional staple for decades. Founded as a Chinese restaurant in the 1950s, the family-owned eatery has added cuisines and themes over the years to keep up with changing trends, from Thai, to sushi, to an outdoor tiki bar.
So it’s no surprise that now, in the midst of a global pandemic, Kowloon is shapeshifting again. On Thursday, the restaurant will host the grand opening of its car hop and “drive-in” movie theater, located on-premise in the business’ massive parking lot.
Bob Wong, who owns and operates the restaurant with his siblings – the third generation of the family to do so – said that when he hatched the idea, he knew he needed a smart solution for taking orders.
“Just looking at the site, I was like, there’s no way I can put POS computers out there,” he said. He decided to put the ordering power directly in the guests’ hands. “I thought, why reinvent the wheel?”
What Wong envisioned was an early version of the new Paytronix Contactless Dining platform: a digital menu that would enable guests to place orders from their outdoor table and sync those orders seamlessly with the POS system. Wong was already using Paytronix Online Ordering to keep the business running during the shutdown, so he simply adapted the system to the new drive-in setup. […]
Justin and Cynthia Loeb, owners of Elote Mexican Kitchen and Oliva Italian Eatery in Fort Worth, Texas, know a thing or two about getting through tough times.
Justin graduated college and headed into the telecommunications field around the turn of the millennium, just as the telecoms crash hit the stock market. He moved to New York City and opened a
wine shop instead, where he met his wife, a restaurant professional.
The pair moved to Fort Worth to be closer to Cynthia’s family and bought a local, struggling full-service restaurant – right as the financial crisis devastated Texas in 2008.
Despite the economic downturn, the Loebs built themselves a stellar reputation at Oliva Italian Eatery, and a few years later expanded their local footprint with Elote Mexican Kitchen, a fast-casual restaurant. The secret, according to Justin Loeb, is to anticipate what guests want and provide it before they demand it.
“You can’t wait for people to come to you, you have to go to them. Whether it’s social media or the email blasts, whatever you can do, it’s being proactive instead of reactive,” Loeb explained.
The Loebs themselves got into online ordering at Elote when a large fast food chain opened nearby. The couple anticipated competition for younger guests’ business, and quickly saw the need for technology solutions, which led them to launch online ordering and email marketing with Paytronix Online Ordering.