Technology can be a tricky thing for a small business. Used correctly, it can increase revenue and streamline operations. But choosing technology without a strategy can be devastating to the customer experience and a business’s bottom line. Jeremy Julian, host of The Restaurant Technology Guys podcast, says technology should always serve a purpose, be adaptable, and increase the ease of your customer experience, even if the tech isn’t customer facing.
On the Yelp Blog: Read more on Jeremy’s tips for choosing the right technology for your small business, including why it’s important that technology even aligns with your values.
EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert. Typically I share a story featuring conversations with a business owner as well as someone who wrote them a Yelp review. But this week we’re doing things a little differently.
I sat down to talk technology with Jeremy Julian, COO of Custom Business Solutions and host of The Restaurant Technology Guys podcast, which you can find at restauranttechnologyguys.com. He’s been in this business for most of his life, and while he deals with all kinds of restaurant tech like point of sale and ordering systems, his advice is terrific for any small business that might need a technology boost. Let’s give our conversation a listen.
JEREMY: Thanks for having me on. My name is Jeremy Julian. I am currently the COO of Custom Business Solutions, which I think is celebrating 26 years in the restaurant technology industry. But for anybody that knows me or has known me even longer, it’s a family business. I started—my summer vacations truly were spent putting together cash registers, taking ’em out of the box and putting them together at eight/nine years old. I’ve got a picture of me at four years old, programming a cash register back in the day. So it has been a labor of love, but I truly, truly enjoy this business.
We started by reselling somebody else’s product, and then about 11 years ago, we built our own point of sale. In that time, over the last five years, I also got the opportunity to host a restaurant technology podcast and blog called the Restaurant Technology Guys. So in my day job, I sell point of sale technology to restaurants and all things that relate to the restaurant technology. And then for funsies I guess, as they say, I get the privilege to host the podcast and talk to cool people like you.
EMILY: That’s exciting too, just to hear about your long standing history, just growing up too. I know many of the folks who listen to our show have been in business and have been in family businesses for years. So that’s really cool. Today I’m super excited to talk about that connection and relationship between that customer experience we’re all working on and working to create and how technology really can elevate it for you as well as create some systems, honestly, where you can just plug and play, focus on that experience and let the online stuff do its own thing. That’s a big theme of “Behind the Review,” but I think with your expertise in particular, you’ve hit on that from all angles.
So maybe you can just start by talking a little bit about your knowledge and what you’ve seen evolve when it comes to technology for restaurateurs, as well as what people do on the base level to leverage technology, to work with customers. What are those basic things that you see required in today’s age?
JEREMY: That’s obviously a very broad question, but I have a fundamental belief and I think a lot of people in the restaurant industry have, really. You experience restaurants in a couple of different ways. You’re either going there to get sustenance, and it’s really just a food mechanism to be able to feed your body. And then there’s many, many people that experience restaurants, especially casual dining, or sit down restaurants as an experience. They’re celebrating somebody’s birthday, they’re celebrating graduation or retirement, they’re celebrating something. And so they’re going there for an experience.
Your job as a restaurateur—as you guys all know that are in the restaurant space—is to create that experience for that guest. And even in that first category where it’s just sustenance, you have to be able to deliver it on time—hot food, hot, cold food, cold—the way they want it, where they want it. Sometimes that means through third party delivery. Sometimes that means through the drive through. Sometimes that means coming in and picking up. But ultimately it’s all about the experience, and making sure that the guest has the experience that they’re expecting.
And what is that experience that they’re expecting? Depending upon your brand and what it is that you’re trying to exhibit out to the world really identifies, how do you hone in on where you use technology? Which really is what I do every day, which is to understand what pieces of technology need to be in place. There are certain things that are table stakes. You have to have a piece of technology, a point of sale that’s sitting at the center of the store, that is your brand’s ERP. There’s hundreds of them out there. We happen to sell one, not here to commercialize what it is that we do, but there are hundreds of brand names that you guys have all heard, everybody listening to the podcast has heard of a lot of the brands that are out there.
So you have to have a point of sale. My suggestion would be that that point of sale also needs to be open to having other inputs to that system, whether that be third party delivery, whether that be online, ordering, whether that be text to order, text to pay, all of these different options, to really create the guest experience that you’re looking for.
I think it starts at that hub, but then I think whether you talk about Amazon, you talk about Apple, you talk about a lot of different consumer brands that aren’t in restaurants. There is the Amazon effect that says I can order a case of toilet paper and have it here in a couple of hours.
That historically hasn’t been something that I can be sitting in my living room and experience within restaurants. And so now with COVID and everything else that’s gone on, people are expecting that because Amazon has gotten us into the—you know what, when I was a kid, when you were a kid, nobody expected to be able to order something and have it there the same day. You would have to go to a store to do that. Well, that’s not the case anymore. Now because of Amazon and others, they’ve gotten to the place where they expect that.
EMILY: So Apple and Amazon have set some expectations, whether fairly or not, that extend to more businesses than just computers and delivery services. Business owners can’t just set up a website and call it a day anymore; it has to do something for the consumer. Who do you think is really utilizing technology effectively these days, and how?
JEREMY: I think that there’s some that are doing it incredibly well, and I think there’s some that have some opportunities.
I’d love to talk about both sides because I think our listeners can hear that and say, technology for technology’s sake is worthless. Technology to create a better guest experience is where you need to be focusing much of your energy. It can’t just be technology. And yes, I’m sure many people have heard of the adoption curve, where you get your early adopters and then you get your early majority and then you get your majority and then you get your laggard.
But those people that are on the front end have to be there, but oftentimes that’s technology for technology’s sake. They’re trying to solve some problem, but they don’t really understand what the root cause or what that issue is. People that are doing it well, are understanding who their guest is. They’re understanding who their guests are and how do they want to interact with that brand?
Take a fine dining steak establishment, probably doesn’t necessarily need to get the $5.95 special. I don’t consider Ruth’s Chris or some big brand that’s out there that I’m going for special occasions to be the place that I’m picking up takeout lunch from. At the same time, there are brands that when I think about them, when I evaluate them, I say, you know what? This is a fast food brand. I expect the food to be consistent. I expect it to be fast. I expect to be able to get in and out of there affordably. How do I engage with that?
So once you’ve defined who your consumer is and what your brand is, now that’s when you start to layer on technology. First you gotta have that point of sale there, but now it’s really an experience. Many of us have been to a Chick-fil-A or to an In-and-Out. They are very busy, as you’re well aware. Nations restaurant news puts them in the top five of brands, but they have now come to your car.
So they put technology in to solve a business problem, to create a better guest experience. Anybody that’s interacted with Chick-fil-A, it was fantastic as they started to roll out that technology to get into the drive through and decrease your wait times that you’re getting your food.
They also staffed to the point that they have somebody there that’s gonna run the food to the cars that are back in the line for longer cook time items because they, again, they didn’t deploy technology just for technology sake. They deployed technology to really create that guest experience.
I happen to be a father of four. And so when we go out to dinner, it’s an experience. It’s a thing. And sometimes we come for just sustenance. Sometimes we come cause I’ve got four kids. So it’s like which one of the kids do I have no veto on, which ones am I going out to celebrate a birthday or such.
In the middle of COVID, there was a brand that we used to frequent probably once every other week. And they launched their online ordering and third party delivery to try and support the brand. But they also kept the dining room open because they were a restaurant that had a patio, so they were able to do it safely. And so they launched this—the guest experience that we had two times in a row, because back to service expectations, they didn’t do a great job of setting that expectation for me and my family of six.
So this fast casual brand, I had a 40 minute wait time to get my food because the kitchen was so backed up with third party delivery and online orders and they didn’t set a good expectation with me at the cashier. That same brand had I walked in pre COVID, before they had launched a third party, before they had launched online order. If I walked in and I saw a line of 20 people, I would realize that they’re probably pretty backed up. This 40 minute experience, I walked to the very front of the line, placed my order for my family of six, but still in a fast casual experience, it took 40 minutes to get my food.
And so, back to the guest experience and setting proper expectations. How do we load balance? How do we deploy technology that’s gonna allow you to explain to your guests, you know what, it’s a visual representation, when I walk into this brand and I see a line. Many of us on this podcast that are listening, probably remember when Chipotle first launched and there wasn’t a Chipotle on every corner, there were lines out the door. But you knew when you walked in, you were either gonna put up with the line or you weren’t gonna put up with the line.
And then they launched this Fax service, because they could control it. It was still pretty controlled and pretty slow to adapt. Then Chipotle got to a place where they launched a secondary kitchen so that they could fulfill the guest experience. So you could do take out and they had a second cashier. And all of that. Again, I say this because if you’re not considering what the guest experience is when they’re interacting with your brand.
Ultimately that brand that I talked about with the 40 minute lost our business forever because of that. Because it was twice that I had the exact same guest experience and I’m grateful that they launched third party delivery. I’m grateful that they’re still in business. And at the same time, our guest experience was poor enough that my wife ultimately said, ‘We’re not going back. I can’t do it.’ Hopefully that gives you and your audience a good explanation of how just putting in technology for technology’s sake, without understanding how it’s gonna impact the guests can ultimately hurt you if it’s not done properly.
EMILY: Well, and I love those examples because honestly I have a good middle of the road example that I think a lot of our listeners can appreciate given this range we just talked about. Because you’re right. If you’re a small local spot, which is this example I’m gonna give—it’s a local burger and custard stand here. They integrated new things during the pandemic, but they didn’t just do it the way others did it. They didn’t just turn on online ordering. They added this little drive through window, but it’s not a drive through where you place an order. You have to call ahead. So you call ahead, you know that the wait to when you can pick up, it’s gonna be about 10 to 15 minutes. So you just space it. For me, I happen to call right as I leave my house and then you drive through the drive through, and it’s already ready for you, right? It’s in that hot box and you’re off and going.
Now, if they turned on an online ordering system where I could enter it online, I know that that volume would be too high for them. And I actually know that because I happened to know the owner and we chatted last time I picked up my food through the drive through. Because recently they had to implement a new voicemail when they had too much going on that said we can’t take phone orders for drive through right now. You’ll have to come in person. And I laughed because he said, ‘Emily, I can’t tell you how many nights I told my dad: If we do that, dad, we’re gonna lose so many orders. And my dad kept telling me, Willie, if we don’t do that, people are gonna stop coming in person.’
And they figured out this system, and I will say when I hear that message, which isn’t often, I one, feel happy for them cause I’m like, damn, they’re rocking it tonight. And then two, I ask myself, okay, am I gonna drive over there and send my boyfriend in to get the order? Or do we just go back tomorrow? But because my expectations are set and met and they don’t just open the throttle and say, well, online ordering is a thing. They keep everyone happy. And that takes adaptation of how most people use technology into, how can this technology work for my business?
JEREMY: Well, and I think that there’s a lot of people that did exactly what you’re talking about. It was binary. You’re either doing online ordering, or you’re not doing online ordering, and that’s not good either. Or you say, ‘Hey, we’ve got 10 orders in the kitchen. It’s an hour and a half wait.’ So now you lose Emily and her boyfriend not going to that property because it’s an hour and a half wait, when the truth is they probably were on a 30 minute wait. And if my family would’ve known that we were a 40 minute wait, we would’ve made a choice. We would’ve made a conscious decision back to guest expectations that says, ‘I’m looking to get a quick meal before I go home, after soccer practice, and I expected this to take 10 to 15 minutes, cause that’s what it’s taken every single time.’
You know what, when I go into Ruth’s Chris—I brought out their name earlier—I know that I’m in for a two and a half to three hour dinner. I’m not going there to try and get a meal in to get fed before I go to the movies. I’m going to have an experience. I know what to expect. When I go into McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A, I’m expecting it fast. I’m expecting it hot. I’m expecting it to be consistent. And I know what I’m getting there. If I went into Chick-fil-A and it took me 45 minutes to get my food, I would consider not going back to Chick-fil-A because when I went in, I went in with a certain premise. And how does technology really help with that? Understanding where those things are so that it’s not binary on and off. Understanding that order that you take on that Chick-fil-A tablet goes straight through to the kitchen.
And I tell you, because I know the people that worked on Chick-fil-A, they spent a lot of time to find the right purveyors because originally when they launched it, they didn’t launch it with payment and you had to pay at the window. Now they’ve got payment. Now they realize that handing the full tablet through to the guest was a challenge.
So they put in technology, they listen to the guest feedback that says this whole tablet, passing it into the window of the car. Now they’ve got a smaller device that goes into the window of the car. And again, I’m picking on Chick-fil-A because they do a fantastic job of implementing technology that’s truly gonna make a better guest experience. They even do the scanning of the app in your car. Across the board, implementing those pieces of technology and setting the right guest expectation ultimately leads to better business and more guests coming back in on a day in and day out basis in my mind.
EMILY: Let’s talk a little more generally about implementing technology in your small business. I think a lot of business owners might not even know where to begin when it comes to researching technology specific to their industry. For example, if we’re talking to the owner of a hair salon or exercise studio, where would you suggest they start digging in?
JEREMY: There’s two answers, and I’m gonna pump my website, because we do have the top five technologies for restaurants. And we have a blog article and a podcast on this exact process if I was a restaurant, but it doesn’t matter if I’m a restaurant versus a salon owner.
I happen to have a cousin who runs a yoga studio. I know very little about yoga, but I had the same exact experience where she called me and said, ‘You’re a business owner. Help me out.’ She launched a yoga studio a couple years ago and had the exact same conversation.
What I told her is: Go be a consumer. Go be a consumer at two or three brands that you—historically business owners like to talk to other business owners and they like to talk about what they’re doing well. So go be a consumer with those brands that you’re interacting with.
True story. This past week I was in Chick-fil-A in the drive through and I happened to ask the drive through attendant something about that payment device to see how it was working. So you ask and amazingly, they give you: ‘This is working really well. This really sucks.’ And I did market research myself. I do market research even on our own business, where I call our call center and figure out what do they say to people when they call in? So if I were doing this research, I would go to all the brands that you respect. Back to this yoga studio. There’s probably four or five yoga studios within 20 miles of my cousin’s shop.
Go in, go pay for a class, go figure out what the guest experience looks like. Go take a class, go sign up online, go cancel your subscription. Go update your subscription. Go update your billing method. Go update your staffing thing. Go meet the owner, ask them what’s working, what’s not working. I would do the same thing. So that’s where I would start.
Then I would pull that list of those. Then I would go do the research. 99% of people that are buying technology today know more about the technology than the person that is selling that technology, because they’ve done research, they’ve gone out, they’ve watched the videos on YouTube. They’ve talked to their peers in the industry that are doing these things. They’ve gone out and looked at the review sites to see how that software is working. They’ve experienced it as a consumer and they know what they’d like and what they don’t like. So oftentimes they’re coming in to solve a specific pain point.
So now I’m the salon owner. I’m the yoga studio owner. I know that I need to solve these things. The other thing I would make sure that you do during that process is take copious notes. Take copious notes of what you’re doing, because oftentimes when you’re looking at three and four technology providers, you blend all of them together.
And so if that’s not you, and that’s not your strong suit as an owner and founder, find somebody on your team that does it well. Because at the end of the day, you’re going to struggle because you’re gonna think of all of them. Do not make the mistake that says all salon point of sales are the same. I can get any of them.
Cuz I hear that all the time. All restaurant point of sale is the same. And the answer is no, it’s not. No, it’s not. The call that I was on just before this was with a large brand that needed a specific need to fill a business need that they have for their 400 stores because they operate their restaurants a little bit differently than some of the other brands that might be out there.
And I went back and forth in a discovery process. There are certain things that you went into business for that make you unique. There are certain ways that you wanna make sure that you’re creating the guest experience that you want.
So for my cousin who runs this yoga studio, she wanted to be very personal and know all of her regular subscribers. She looked at her business plan and said, right now it’s pay per play. I hope that people show up and pay for a class, but I know that I wanna get people onto a subscription where they can take up to 20 classes a month. And if I don’t have that built into my technology solution, and I pick something that doesn’t do subscription service and auto billing and running on like people’s credit cards when they go bad and they expire. Now, this is a whole bunch more work for me.
Maybe she wanted that. What is your business plan? And then you need to build a mini what I would call RFP, RFI for whatever this technology solution is. I guarantee you, if you do 15 minutes of Google searching, you probably are gonna find what are the top features in the world that I need for a salon solution, a yoga studio. And they’re gonna come up with your list of 10, 20, 50 things that you wanna see in that solution. And then part of your tear down analysis of each of those technology providers is to figure out, can they fulfill your business needs? The last piece I would say is make sure that you aligned your business with the technology provider that you’re picking. You are picking a partner to go into business. They represent your brand, they represent your product. They represent your solution to the consumer. Oftentimes they’re not walking in and talking with the owner, they’re on your website where they’re on this app, scheduling their time. And if they don’t have a good experience, it’s frustrating.
I’ll give you one. I was scheduling a haircut for my son this weekend. I went to the person’s website and scheduled to go do this haircut. Well, it happened to be on a holiday that I was scheduling this.
He hadn’t updated his website. He didn’t tell me he was closed. Then I scheduled it. It gave me a confirmation in my email that I was confirmed to do that. Then later I got a text from him saying, ‘Unfortunately, I’m closed. In the future, can you go to this website to schedule an appointment’—not the website that was on his website.
Again, that’s an example of a bad guest experience in my mind, because not only did my son not get his haircut, he’s directing me to a site that’s not his website to go schedule his haircut. And I actually already had paid for his haircut online in addition to it. So now he’s got my money and I have to reschedule his haircut on a day that my son can make it.
And so all of that to say, that’s why it is so critical to make sure that you pick the right partner to fulfill your business needs for the clients that you’re looking to serve.
EMILY: That’s a really important point. And just a little note for everyone who’s doing appointments through technology: It’s always best to not have them confirmed until you confirm them. I was irritated the other day when I got one of those. You go through the whole process of choosing your appointment and then the email is like, we got your request, we’ll let you know if confirmed. And at first you’re like, well, what do you mean? I thought it was available. But then when you think about the user experience you had, that’s much better. And then I think I got a follow up email 40 minutes later or something saying your appointment’s been accepted. But again, that’s like training the consumer. It doesn’t need to be instantaneous, but they’ll know if it’s confirmed or not, because how horrible to get a confirmation like you did and then get the text that it’s not. That’s a great story though.
EMILY: I feel like we’ve covered a lot of important ground so far, but now I want to talk about data. People who love data, really love it. But even if you don’t love data, it’s important to understand how crucial it is to your business. How do you think online reviews have given real data opportunities to small business owners, and what can they do with that data from reviews?
JEREMY: At no time in the history of technology, in the history of consumers interacting with retail brands, have we had more data to know who’s coming in, what it is that they’re buying. We are in data overload. More so than we are in not having the data. At one point a thousand years ago, you knew every customer that came in cause you were in a town, you came to the town hall, you came to the tavern. The owner sat behind the bar and poured people beer and knew who everybody in the town was that was coming in. We have that now with technology.
People don’t necessarily use it to understand. When you were standing behind the bar and you knew that you were pouring a lot of Budweisers, you knew that you probably needed to order more Budweisers because you were there, and every time Johnny came in, there was a Budweiser sitting in his seat before he even sat down at the bar stool.
Technology gives us that platform to do that if it’s done properly. Consumers, and especially today’s consumers, as they continue to trend younger are going to give you that data if you ask for it and you do something with it. If you ask for it and don’t do anything with it, they will stop coming to your establishment. I would recommend that you guys are really keen to understand the ear of the customer. Like I said, 50 years ago, it was Johnny that was coming and sitting at the bar stool, and you knew that your beer might be getting close to being tapped out because it was flat because he would tell you to your face and you were there and you were in the establishment.
Nowadays people are doing this online more so than they are, with tools like Yelp and Google and Facebook and all of the review sites to do those communications. The brands that are doing that really well are building a digital relationship with their consumers. Those that are not, that are not listening to those things that said the pasta was too salty or this special didn’t look as the picture did, or Jenny was the best server I’ve ever had, you need to give her a raise. The people that are listening to those types of items, again on the review sites, are helping to get to that person.
One of the biggest things that I would say that COVID taught us is when the business model changes, you have to have control of the customer to know who it is. Because if you don’t and you don’t have a way to communicate to them what’s going on, your guest experience can go really, really poorly.
Downtowns went empty during COVID. They didn’t know who those consumers were. Having a piece of technology—whether it be the technology that your company sells or brands like Punch and Paytronics—to know who the guest is. There’s a bunch of data analytics tools where you can marry credit card data along with social data. To hear about these things and see what’s going on, to be able to communicate with those consumers and change your business model or change the ways you’re going to market is critical.
Being able to talk to those consumers is such a leg up that many, many competitors don’t have. And so understanding that and ensuring that you can talk to those consumers is paramount. That gives you hopefully some insight as to what I think all brands need to be doing in order to compete in today’s day and age. Cause if they’re not, they are losing out to their competitors that are doing it.
EMILY: When it comes to reviews, we know there’s data available on Yelp and other review platforms, but how do you suggest small business owners tap into that information and then once it’s in their hands, how do they use it to their advantage?
JEREMY: Many of our listeners may know that there’s lots of review sites out there, and there are pieces of technology that can help streamline things. Each of the brands that have review sites has their own business platform that you can log into individually to be able to talk with these consumers.
And I would suggest that if you’re going to get into this game, you probably need to consider one of the other tools that are out there that aggregate all of this methodology, and many of those tools that are out there allow you to talk through Yelp and through Facebook and through Google and through Twitter and through all of the different methods that consumers may be able to give you feedback. A lot of them will bubble to the top the word maps that give you the challenges that are going on, or the good things that are happening within your store.
These aggregators pull from all of these tools and use AI and machine learning to tell you that salty is a word that comes up on 30% of your reviews. Now you dig through those 30% of your reviews to figure out that it’s always the pasta water that’s salty, and you gotta fix that because fixing that will reduce those negative reviews that are coming in about the pasta being too salty or not salted enough.
A lot of times these aggregation platforms will distill down for you. I wouldn’t suggest that you start there. If you’re not doing anything with reviews, start by going and building your business profile on all of the tools that you wanna allow, the reviews. And at the same time, make sure that you’ve got your business claimed and that you know how to talk to those people. And you know how to read those things. Because at first, unless you’re gonna do a huge marketing campaign, they’re gonna trickle in as time goes on.
And there’s probably some up there that you don’t even know about already. As it gets to a place where it becomes a differentiator but it can be a huge point of differentiation. My wife and I, when we had our fourth child, I was home on paternity leave and we happened to go to a single store establishment. It was in a single in line pizza place, brick oven pizza place. Rudy’s. Awesome dude. Only owned one restaurant at the time—this is almost seven years ago. We were literally coming home from the hospital. I’m like, I saw a sign that says pizza by the slice, I pulled in. I’m like, let’s try this place out. It became my favorite pizza place that I ever go to. That’s how I found them. I found them through Yelp, not here to sell Yelp, but I’m here to say, this helped me find this brand.
I talked to Rudy and said, ‘How do you decide whether you’re gonna add items to the menu?’ Now he’s at a second location. He’s added two extra spots into the inline. The place next door went out of business. He bought it out. And now expanded his seating. And now he’s got a third thing and now he’s added delivery because many of the Yelp reviews or many of the online review sites say, ‘I love the pizza, but sometimes I can’t get there. Can you just open up delivery? And if you can’t do delivery, can you do third party?’
And so again, I had a conversation, and we had a business conversation about why this is critical for him to do this. And so this is gonna give you insight into your consumers and what they’re looking for from you, not just on your food, but where do they want you to be? How do they want you to be? And if you see a consistent theme, because you’re using these aggregation sites, now it’ll give you the ability to aggregate every other review site, to be able to make better business decisions, not just from the data that come from your point of sale, but what are the consumers saying about what it is that you’re doing.
EMILY: I love how every time you talk about the identifying of trends, you say the same thing I do, which is figure out what you’re doing wrong for sure. But also figure out all the things you’re doing that consumers love or all the things that they wish they got from you, because it’s not just about the critical, sometimes it’s about hearing what people already think is great and doing more of that, or using that as your differentiator.
What other sage advice can you give our listeners?
JEREMY: I remind restaurant owners all the time you got in this business to serve.
You got in this business to serve people good food with good hospitality with good service. Get back to that. Use technology to exploit that, to make it better for the guests, but ultimately you’re there to serve them a hot hamburger. You’re there to serve them a pizza. You’re there to serve them a ribeye steak to get them the experience that they’re looking for.
Get back to the roots of why did you start that brand? It could be the yoga studio. You built the yoga studio to help people get healthy and to help get them squared away with what it is that they’re doing. Get back to the roots and then use technology to augment that process. Use technology to help you do it at a better scale. That we do it at a place that’s really helpful for the consumers at the end of the day, because without them, none of us have a business at the end of the day.
EMILY: What do you think is the biggest mistake small business owners make when implementing new technology?
JEREMY: We talked about a pre-show of just where do we see technology really hurting brands? And we talked about a story earlier about technology hurting a brand. The biggest fault that I find that brands do when they’re implementing technology is they don’t resource it appropriately. They make the analogy, all loyalty systems are the same, or they hand it to somebody—they don’t give them the authority to make the decisions that they need to.
They don’t give them the time that they need to implement the change that they’re looking for. They wanna get to the promised land, but they don’t wanna do the work to get there and they don’t wanna resource it. So they hand it to Emily and say, ‘Emily, I know you have a full-time job and you’re already behind on some of the stuff that we’re doing, but I really, really need to get this going. So I wanna just add it to the top of the pile.’
And now you have no authority to go get the people on your team to go get those things implemented, nor do you have the time to even resource it appropriately, or it comes at the expense of some of the other things that you’re doing. So I would strongly suggest that people that are putting in technology understand what it’s gonna take. When the vendor and partner says, ‘it’s gonna take this long,’ listen to them. When they say you probably need to hire them to do some consulting for you, you probably need to do that. When they tell you that it’s going to take longer than you think it’s going to, believe them—they’ve done it 10,000 times.
They’re not doing this because they think it’s gonna be that simple. Ask the question behind the question to the sales guy, make sure that you understand what it’s truly gonna take to implement that change. Cause at the end of the day, technology for technology’s sake is going to hurt your business more than it’s gonna help. Technology that’s gonna enhance the guest experience ultimately can make you the place to go in town.