Episode Summary

The restaurant industry is now adapting to the digital-first age and consumer. Even just a few years ago, no one could have predicted the level of changes happening in the space today. To help restaurant owners and operators navigate the massive upheaval of traditional restaurant operations, our guests, Meredith Sandland & Carl Orsbourn, wrote a book, Delivering the Digital Restaurant.
These two digital restaurant savants met while working for Kitchen United, a ghost kitchen company. They knew operators who adopted a ghost kitchen were seeing a lot of success, but they were struggling to understand how the digital marketing model needs to change to be able to truly grow in that space. Their book aims to serve as a roadmap, to understand the steps to have a successful omnichannel business.
In this episode of Restaurants Reinvented, Meredith & Carl sit with our host, Jen Kern, to discuss the importance of data in the restaurant industry, the challenges restaurant owners face today, and the benefits of using different digital channels to keep existing customers and attract new ones.

Guests-At-A-Glance

🍽 Name: Meredith Sandland and Carl Orsbourn
🍽 What they do: Meredith and Carl are co-authors of Delivering the Digital Restaurant.
🍽 Company: Learn.Delivery
🍽 Noteworthy: Meredith and Carl joined forces to create Learn.Delivery, a platform for every restaurant owner seeking answers regarding the changes happening in the restaurant industry.
🍽 Where to find Meredith: LinkedIn
🍽 Where to find Carl: LinkedIn
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Key Insights

🌶️ Use data and technology to provide the best customer experience.
As guides to the digital restaurant landscape, Meredith and Carl discuss how vital data and technology are to the next generation of restaurants. Not only do new technologies provide new insights for operators, but they can enhance the customer experience as well. The goal is the find the right tools that can do it seamlessly. “The main thing is really about how to work with a system that’s going to be able to make the data capture and its use as easy and as simple as possible”, says Carl.
🌶️ The traditional restaurant concept will not disappear.
Although convenience is king in the modern age, the traditional brick-and-mortar will not be leaving anytime soon. Still, Meredith and Carl encourage restaurant brands to embrace digital innovations. Regardless of whether you’re primarily dine-in, drive-through or delivery, you need to be able to embrace these tools across your business in order to succeed in the new omnichannel world,” concludes Meredith.
🌶️ Restaurants need to use a different approach to measure success.
Meredith argues that the current way most restaurants measure success is outdated especially with the emergence of data — counting the number of customers per day doesn’t show operators much insight on what they are doing right each day. Meredith suggests embracing Algorithmic Growth, LTV and CAC. ‘LTV’ is lifetime value — how often are people coming in, how much are they spending, what items are they buying and what’s the margin mix on those items, and how long does that relationship last. Whereas ‘CAC’ is the customer acquisition cost — how much did it cost us to get that customer.

Episode Highlights

What Algorithmic Growth Means for Restaurants
Not only has the digital age introduced new avenues for exponential growth for restaurants such as with ghost kitchens and online ordering, but it will also allow operators to use data and algorithms to optimize their advertising & operations to help grow their brand.

“Algorithmic growth means two things. One, it’s taking advantage of all the algorithms that are shaping our digital lives. And that can take the form of lookalike audiences on Facebook, or using algorithms to serve up ads as people go through their daily lives and get the right ad at the right time.

And algorithmic growth also means growing exponentially; it means being able to grow beyond what historically a restaurant was able to do. […] The digital world enables so much more growth, enables us to reach so many more people in a way that hasn’t been possible for restaurants before” – Meredith Sandland.
Cater to Your Workers
The new generation of workers, the Millenials and Gen-We (a.k.a Gen-Z), are a different beast. They are truly digital natives and have different priorities than previous generations such as being motivated by purpose-driven work and a healthy work-life balance. Reaching and appealing to them will be a challenge for many operators.
“We’ve talked a lot in the recent months with the labor shortage, it’s not just going where your consumers are, say on a third-party platform or having a first party ordering interface on your website, it’s also about going where your workers are. If most of the workers are Millennial and Gen W, you’re not going to reach them in the old school ways, right?” -Meredith Sandland
Be Nimble & Aim to Innovate
The digital age brings a lot of unknowns to the restaurant industry. To be successful, operators must be willing to innovate, experience, and recognize that they’re going to fail at times. Being flexible and having an agile tech stack will help you be ready for any change that is still to come.

“What does this industry look like in 10 years from now?

[…] it’s not just about drones and automation … It’s also talking about the fact that personalization is going to go to a new level, the fact that the supply chain is going to get closer to where the restaurants are actually making the food. So all of these different themes I think are going to come through, which are going to continue to challenge the traditional sense of what the restaurant business model looks like.

Owner/operators that have the most nimble mindset…are willing to innovate, to try and experiment (and recognize that they’re going to fail at times), but have the flexibility within their infrastructure to be ready for the change that’s still to come. They’re the ones that will win and continue to win as we go through the future that lies ahead.” -Carl Orsborne

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