Interview with Restaurant Technology Consultant Stephen Ronnow
What services does a technology consultant provide to restaurateurs?
It can be an array of things. One of my solutions is a “smart management assistant” that acts like a general manager in the cloud. The “GM in the cloud” provides insights to the restaurant that can increase revenue, enhance the guest experience and save time for operators.
What is the minimum annual sales for a restaurant that benefit from your services and see a return on investment.
The minimum sales on a per unit basis would be $400,000 and above. We service restaurants and bars ranging from independent operators to national chains.
What are some of the tools you provide?
The tools can be broad. However, as a starting point, think of Google or Amazon and how they track customer spending/habits. We provide similar tools for restaurants.
We begin by tracking customer spending, what people are buying, how often are they buying and how much are they spending. Our tools allow the restaurant operator to segment guests by different patterns and determine which types of guests they want to attract more of based on trends.
For example, the restaurateur may determine that he/she wants to target guests that consume a certain type of beer or order a specific food item.
Our social media tools give instant access to reviews online and allow operators to reply quickly from one portal. We provide the ability to monitor marketing campaigns over time to determine return on investment to know whether a specific event or promotion drives repeat customers over time.
We’ve been able to revolutionize menu engineering by showing restaurants which menu items do the best job of turning new guests into regulars and which bring regulars in the most frequently. This allows the restaurateur to sell strategic items to build and drive repeat business. We do this because, today, operators are limited to seeing which items sell and don’t sell, and there is no other technology that lets you to track which items actually bring customers back.
One of our strongest tools is similar to Siri on the iPhone, but is strictly for restaurants.
This tool has two modes: 1. Alerts and 2. Answers to questions made by voice/text. The alerts can range from reviews, to VIP diners sitting down, to possible fraud. Questions answered can range from sales to food questions to information on servers.
Using artificial intelligence, the “GM in the cloud” can determine answers to questions based on the existing data gathered in the different data streams in the restaurant. There is no custom programming or work required from the operator. Everything is tracked behind the scenes.
What are some examples of how your clients use some of these tools?
One example would be a brew pub that spiked revenue +8% over 6 months with our menu optimization. They found out which beers brought new guests back 45% of the time instead of their average, 31%, and then pushed those beers and created specials. For them this translated into $1000-$2000 dollars a day they had been missing out on.
Another example would be the 7 location burger chain owner who lives by his new App that shows him all his locations’ performance in real time and alerts him to any issues so he can relax a bit more.
Who are your typical clients?
We currently work with 8,200 restaurants nationwide, including local and national brands.
Can you provide some sample results you have achieved for your clients?
Results differ per restaurant group.
One client achieved a $92,000 revenue increase in one year.
Another client with one location saw a $37,000 in increased revenue from using the menu optimization specifically.
A Midwest client with multiple locations saw a $288,000 increase over the course of one year, tweaking their marketing strategy based on the new and regular guest insights.
One client increased revenue by $13,000 just by coaching servers on how to emulate their best performers which the tools revealed.
What are the costs for your services?
All of the tools and products are provided on a monthly subscription service. There is no charge for my consultation. Typically we will review the clients existing operations and demo the different tools to determine which option would be best based on their objectives. We knock out unnecessary expenses in the process so packages run $0 – $250 per month.
What is the onboarding process and are there any additional fees for on boarding and set-up?
There is very little work on client side. There is a 10 minute kick off call and a 15 minute call to back office managers for some remote software installation.
The heavy lifting happens on our end. Some restaurants can be up and running in a week. Larger multi store roll-outs can take a month or two. There are no set up or additional fees.
What questions should a restaurateur ask when considering technology or your services?
What am I using today for technology? How do I use my current technology? Where am I wasting time or opportunity? Each restaurant has their own process. What are you focused on? Menu, servers, building loyalty?
From there they would ask how the consultant streamlines their processes and improve operations.
One last question. What is the biggest hurdle for restaurateurs and technology?
Restaurateurs don’t have time. They also aren’t sure how something new is actually going to help them. It’s no coincidence then that that’s the first challenge we solve by making everything easy, fast, and extremely relevant.
Ultimately, it’s about having the information at their fingertips for when they need it.
What is the best way to reach you if readers would like to learn more and request a free consultation/demo?
Name: Stephen Ronnow