Episode Highlights

  • Rachel got involved with restaurants at the age of sixteen and says “hospitality is in your blood or it’s not”.
  • Rachel enjoys the fast-paced environment that the restaurant industry provides.
  • When getting her MBA, Rachel realized that storytelling was a passion and that helped her hone in on being a marketer.
  • At Taziki’s, Rachel is the first female executive in the company’s history.
  • Rachel pinpoints what’s different about Taziki’s – focusing on the guest experience as a fast-casual restaurant.
  • During the company’s rebrand, Rachel and the other team members realized that the majority of customers were female. So, the company started changing a lot of language to align with “moms” and what “moms need.”
  • Rachel talks about her title and why “growth” is a part of it.  She believes that a marketer should always be focused on growth.
  • Despite growth being an important part of marketing, Rachel describes how it can be incredibly painful. The process and refinement required is very difficult.
  • Rachel describes some of the specific adjustments made during the pandemic. Most importantly, the executive team moved to a daily call to discuss financials and other challenges in real-time.
  • The pandemic caused Taziki’s to really reevaluate the third-party delivery opportunities with their restaurants. Delivery companies gave Taziki’s enough room to make it work inside of its business model.
  • Another adjustment the company made during COVID-19 was offering fresh produce to customers, especially those who did not want to venture out into grocery stores.
  • As of the date of the recording, Taziki’s is at 85% of same store sales and is aiming to get back to 100%.
  • Rachel has leaned into becoming an in-house expert on guest data and believes that is a very important part to being a marketer in the industry.
  • Jen and Rachel discussed a quote from Rachel in www.fastcasual.com which stated “…brands must continue to reinvent ways to keep managers and staff engaged through growth and a clear vision for how they contribute to the overall mission. If you treat your staff like they’re replaceable, you’ll spend a lot of time replacing them.”
  • Rachel talks about how restaurants are used to changes at the operational level, but change is resisted once you’re at the executive level.
  • According to Rachel, a lot of great talent is stolen out of the hospitality industry because competitive wages aren’t offered and there aren’t career paths with growth opportunities.
  • Based on comments from Rachel, “Without diversity in the restaurant industry, it wouldn’t even last a day and I don’t think we’ve had enough conversations.”
  • The biggest challenges marketers face today is getting their arms around what data is important and what data isn’t.
  • Rachel talks about how she’s experienced a lot of failure along the way and that many ideas were pitched…and did not take off.
  • The biggest piece of advice Rachel would offer marketers today is to get a stronger sense of financial responsibility because marketing is a combination of art and science.

Quotables

  • According to Rachel, Taziki’s is the “most approachable way for people to experience Mediterranean food. I mean, there is nothing really on our menu that you can get that doesn’t have some kind of nostalgia attached to a flavor that you’re familiar with.”
  • The pandemic presented a variety of challenges, “…when COVID-19 hit…two days later our business was destroyed. We had to revisit what is the core of our business, what do we keep? What do we slash? If we threw every idea in the middle of the ring, um, what can survive? And we went straight back into an entrepreneurial mindset. And honestly, Taziki’s did well because of that.”
  • Based on Rachel’s comments, “the COO reinvented our labor model in a couple of days, and that kind of kept our company really from sinking.” 
  • A recent project included the onboarding of social listening software, “My team onboarded some listening software that basically gives operators an opportunity to post social content, paid media, respond to reviews…all in one place. And because we have that, we have a holistic view of what the customer is saying on the internet.”
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