While pandemic-era buzz-phrases like “omnichannel capabilities” and “meeting customers where they are” have largely been utilized by large QSR chains, growing fast-casual chicken restaurant Daddy’s Chicken Shack is proving that building your tech stack early on in development is crucial.
Pasadena, Calif.-based Daddy’s Chicken Shack opened in 2018 and will soon open its second location and franchising base in Houston. Despite its small size, Daddy’s has honed its reputation as a tech-forward fast-casual brand, introducing a dual production line (with separate lines for off- and on-premises orders), geofencing, a cloud-based POS, and SMS-based customer review technology to its restaurant over the last couple of years.
“In 2018 when we first opened, I had no idea what a tech stack even was,” Chris Georgalas, cofounder of Daddy’s Chicken Shack said in a statement. “I had to Frankenstein a system together.”
Recently, the restaurant upgraded its POS system to Enterprise, and took advantage of some of the omnichannel technologies that quick-service brands have touted in a post-pandemic world. Daddy’s Chicken Shack introduced dual lines to mitigate long lines at the counter because the kitchen is dealing with a backup of delivery orders. The POS system will now automatically re-route counter orders to on-premises line, while delivery and pickup orders will be re-routed to the off-premises line.
“What we're trying to do is really create digital hospitality,” Georgalas said. “So, instead of traditional hospitality where you ask guests how they are and you put that first, we’re asking ‘is this a seamless process for guests?’ […] We’re putting technologies into place to deliver that level of hospitality.”
The advantage of starting this process when you only have one or two restaurants, Georgalas said, is that his team doesn’t have to think about retrofitting restaurants because they’re essentially starting the process from scratch.
One of the most important pieces of technology Daddy’s Chicken shack has rolled out is fast-casual-friendly geofencing. Other brands, including Panera, implemented geofencing technology during the pandemic to make it easier for order-ahead guests to receive their orders by letting the restaurant know a guest has arrived in the parking lot. With Daddy’s Chicken Shack, guests that use mobile order-ahead can opt in to share their location and then it will alert the restaurant twice: once when the guest is 8-10 minutes away so they can begin cooking, and again when the guest arrives.
“Our food is cooked to order and doesn’t sit under a heat lamp,” he said. “We want our food to be ready when the customer gets there and be as fresh as it can possibly be.”
One of the most literal versions of digital hospitality that Daddy’s Chicken Shack offers is customer review technology, which automatically puts customers that order online in a feedback loop. After 45 minutes of receiving an order, they’ll get a text that asks them to rate their experience using emojis.
“It’s not always five-star, smiley face reviews, because what happens if we forget your soda? It happens,” Georgalas said. “But then the guest can reach out to us and we can deal with it directly and maybe sent them an apology with a $3-off coupon for their next order.”
Georgalas’ biggest advice for emerging brands looking to build up their tech stack? Be flexible because customer needs are always changing. The pandemic, for example, sped up a five-year process of developing technology capabilities to two years.
“I’m not a developer or an engineer but I obsessively pay attention to what our guest is looking for,” he said. “If you’re even slightly behind, you could be in trouble.”
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