You're In the Tech Business, Whether You Know It or Not

10 years ago, you didn't have to be in the technology business to be in the restaurant business. Now you have to. For a restaurant our size, to have an app that's as robust as ours is, it's unheard of. So for us, when we built the app, we wanted to make sure that we were fishing where the fish were. If everybody has their phone all day long in their hands, you have to be there. And we treat it like its own independent restaurant. When they come into our parking lot, we can get them their food just as fast as you can get it going through some fast-casual chain. For our quality of food to be serviced that way, we can only do it through technology.

If you have a POS system that doesn't integrate with inventory management, labor management, that's real-time money that's going out of your kitchen. And if you don't (beep) understand the difference, then you're going to lose your shirt. 10 years ago, you had to take a shotgun approach to advertising. We're in a moment that I can literally talk to you wherever you're at. If you're the 38-year-old mom, and I want to advertise to 38-year-old women in this zip code, I can. In the technology world that you have to be in, you have to vet your technology companies, just like you're vetting the products that we serve to customers. There's a lot of companies that will give you a shiny presentation, but they don't have the customer service to back it up. If you're looking at buying a franchise and they don't have a killer loyalty program, that should be a red flag to you. I can get everybody to come try us once it's up to us to make sure they come back and try us again.

And the loyalty program, that's what it builds. It's important to realize that the pandemic expanded our industry. It didn't cut its legs out. Everything was negotiable – our products, our packaging – and we decided to lean into it rather than to say, we have to. We've embraced technology. While I'm sitting at my house, I could tell you what the food cost is for that shift. That's the technology that we have. And if you haven't spent the time and effort to do that, then you're behind the eight ball – you're out and you're leaving money on the table, and in our industry, money on the table is just laziness.

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