Business and Operations
Turn your IT into I-profit
By Maureen Rae Chute
By Maureen Rae Chute
Dreading a technology upgrade for your pizzeria? Take heart. New, more
advanced solutions could help you turn your small business IT into a
Dreading a technology upgrade for your pizzeria? Take heart. New, more advanced solutions could help you turn your small business IT into a profit-generating centre.
Recent industry reports show that independent pizzeria owners and franchisees are increasingly turning to new technologies to help boost profits and improve CSR performance. Many have jumped on the social media bandwagon and/or turned to smartphone technology to increase brand loyalty, offer timely customer incentives and promote sales.
The National Restaurant Association’s 2010 Industry Forecast reports “it is time for pizzerias to prepare for growth by reinvesting in their technology infrastructure. Using new technology as a marketing channel is increasingly more important for the success of pizza franchises.”
Instead of just upgrading their phone systems, pizza owners could consider how they can use more advanced, integrated IT solutions that provided not only essential call features (call recording, call transfer, call reporting) but also customizable on-hold messaging. There are solutions that can transform small business IT into a profit-generating centre.
Many pizza business owners find that the call systems they once relied on for quick responses and on-hold messaging are becoming outdated. They lack the flexibility necessary for timely, up-to-the-minute messaging and response. What’s more, many of these older, conventional call systems are unable to provide quick, effective ways to track, monitor and report on CSR activities.
“Many owners are unaware of more integrated, customer-enhancing solutions available to them,” says Geoff Bell of SUTUS, a Vancouver-based company that has developed a customizable device tailored to the quick-service food and beverage market. “Many dread the idea of adopting a new solution that only adds to an already cumbersome mix of phones, network and computers that characterizes most operations.”
Adding to the problem is the fear that any new addition to the small business IT mix will not be compatible with existing components. Many owners fear this will only increase their costs and create more headaches for in-house tech managers who often lack the technical expertise needed to overcome these problems.
Bell offers the following points to help the quick-service pizza delivery business owners and franchisees who are looking to update or replace their call systems.
Decide which call features matter most
In the pizza business, time spent on hold can mean the difference between a customer gained and a customer lost.
The ability to customize that on-hold experience is integral to acquiring and keeping customers. For this reason, pizza owners may desire solutions that allow for flexible, customizable on-hold messaging options that allow them to provide up-to-the-minute promotions. This adds a “live” aspect to the on-hold experience, making the company’s message as fresh and hot as the pizza it delivers.
Invest in solutions that track and respond to fluctuating call periods, presenting both date-sensitive and time-sensitive messaging that goes beyond the reach of conventional marketing and ad campaigns. Look for features that provide opportunities to target customers with different specials offered for lunch, dinner and a late-night snack.
“This message-on-hold function is nothing new to quick-serve restaurants, but it continues to be a big value proposition for pizza companies” says Bell. “With more advanced technology, owners can take this feature to the next level. They get real-time visibility, like seeing what messaging is working, which calls are abandoning, and change the messaging across multiple locations at once, and achieve an immediate ticket sale increase as a result.”
Call recording and advanced reporting are two additional advanced features available to today’s quick-service pizza owners or franchisees who want to take a closer look at the service they are providing to customers. Both features can be used to enhance training and better direct CSRs who have their fingers on the pulse of the business. Look for a solution that produces reports that are customizable to suit corporate standards and build brand loyalty.
Call transfer is another feature that can be essential to customer retention. Look for more advanced solutions that can automatically reroute calls from one store to another instantaneously. This is a customer-driven feature that eliminates the need for a second redial by callers that can result in a lost sale.
Do you want a new phone service or a revenue-generating tool?
Instead of looking at your upgrade as just another capital cost with an unforeseeable ROI, consider solutions that offer revenue-generating features.
“It’s time to view your IT as a profit centre rather than an expense,” explains Bell. “How can you use your technology to boost sales, and drive marketing campaigns?”
A fully integrated phone system means the same technology that provides sufficient phone lines and connectivity to meet fluctuating call demands also contributes to the overall marketing strategy. It works to improve reporting, making the process of monitoring and tracking calls much less onerous for the pizza owner. This in turn allows them to focus on the business of producing the best product they can for their customers.
More advanced, integrated IT solutions provide answers to important questions. They deliver hard data such as: How long do my customers spend in the queue? How long does it take to collect an order? Was the customer placed on hold, and if so, for how long? They also allow owners to track line use and abandoned calls. Nearly every step of the pizza order process can be tracked, recorded and reported on.
Today’s integrated IT solutions represent a compelling return on investment for the quick-service food and beverage industry. Their features lend a competitive advantage to pizza owners and franchisees looking to take advantage of new technologies that open them up to new ways of attracting and keeping customers.
Maureen Chute is a writer whose work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Our Canada Magazine, The North Shore News and other publications. She lives with her family in North Vancouver B.C., and divides her time between writing and working as a clinical counsellor.