Technology Driving Customer Convenience and Network Connection

Chicken Treat: January 27, 2021

580 restaurants. 13,000 employees. 1 million customers per week. From how we communicate, to ordering and collecting our food and even where and when we ate, it all changed in 2020 and so did the technology driving customer convenience and QSRs.

In this article Craveable Brands Chief Information Officer Paul Kennedy talks us through how technology evolved (at speed) in 2020 and how it has set us up for the future.

When the pandemic hit, the need for speed in adapting to a changed world was evident with the digital team at Craveable Brands delivering two years of digital transformation within months.

For Franchise Partners across Red Rooster, Oporto and Chicken Treat, sales and delivery data helped predict new surge times and patterns, so that adequate staff could be rostered on. For Franchise Partners and employees, online training and streamlined systems helped support them with the sudden move to remote working and social distancing.

In 2020, more than any other year, technology proved to be a core tool in responding to and delivering rapid change. Much of that change now shapes current and future operations.

Digital Srove Delivery Performance

Across all delivery channels – drive thru, delivery, take-away – demand was up and tolerance for failure was low.

A key challenge was a sudden shift in traffic patterns. The traditional, strong dinner peak was starting significantly earlier and lasting longer. Historically, people would commute home from work, would not have the energy to cook and would decide to order delivery. Normally peak demand would start after six and build, but during the pandemic it began late afternoon and in addition people were ordering steadily throughout the day.

The days of the week people tended to get take-away also changed. Historically, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were the biggest nights. Everyone would get towards the end of the week and with events or sport on, or because they hadn’t been shopping, they would order delivery. During the pandemic, people’s routines changed, and that delivery traffic spread across the entire week.

From a parent company perspective Craveable Brands was able to study the data and use predictive rostering systems to prepare Franchise Partners so they could have adequate kitchen prep, store staff and drivers rostered at the right times.

QR Codes

While staff were being trained and briefed on constantly changing health advice, it was the tech team that built, in a matter of days, the unique QR code platform that allowed stores to trade uninterrupted.

Individual QR codes were created for each of the 580 stores across the country, providing Franchise Partners with the ease of collecting and storing customer information to be used to support contact tracing.

Tech to Stay Connected

Craveable Brands office-based teams needed to transition to remote working at speed. Existing tools were initially used to enable work from home however they weren’t designed to be the primary support to the new ways of working.

Launching a new communications platform was a priority.  Craveable Brands transitioned to a new videoconferencing & workplace chat system that also supported file storage and sharing ability.  The new system was rolled out in May with the platform completely launched and in full use by June.

All Craveable Brands meetings including Franchise Partner State meetings, Supply Partner Conference and internal communications were moved effectively and efficiently to Video Conferencing.

The upgrade to our communication platform ultimately provided us with more modern collaboration tools that have proven invaluable in keeping our teams and partners connected.

Training

Online training was instantly another priority. With a network of 580 restaurants and a team of 12,500 including Franchise Partners, store managers and staff needing training across the country, technology was key in keeping everyone connected and informed.

The challenge was ‘how do you keep them engaged?’

We moved from half day face to face classroom style training workshops to sessions that needed to be structured and delivered in smaller, bite-sized elements online so that people were not stuck in front of a screen for too many hours at a time. For our trainers, their challenge was not being able to physically draw diagrams or infographics to help communicate and demonstrate the answers to questions. The solution was supplying them with touchscreen devices and pens so they could continue to draw on a physical device and have it show up on participant’s screens. This, combined with the new upgraded communications platform has proven to be a successful not only in streamlining our content delivery, but with efficiencies of reaching teams that are located in more than one location as well as rural and remote areas.

Recruitment

Streamlining the recruitment process across the brands is another example of lasting change and technology that further supports Franchise Partners.

In many instances, the changes, rather than being a technology problem, have been an adoption problem. People liked the way they traditionally worked and unless they could see a strong reason for change, like what we suddenly experienced this year, they would have just kept doing what they were used to doing. So, 2020 has certainly been a catalyst for change for many.

Key Lessons of 2020

We are agile.  We are adaptable. We are supportive.

We rid ourselves of the clutter and focussed on what really mattered.

We evolved.

Society has proven to be much more resilient than perhaps many thought and people have adapted, just as technology has helped business adapt. While the change happened quickly, the adoption of new ways of working and improved delivery of service is here to stay.

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