March 14, 2022

Branding Your Restaurant with TOAST

Branding Your Restaurant with TOAST

If you run a restaurant, you know how critical it is to stay front of mind with your customers. With so many options, it's easy to be forgotten if can't establish a relationship with your patrons. Join me today, as I talk with Emily Spickler on how TOAST technology can not only ensure you consistently hit brand experience standards but will automate much of the process for you.


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Thank you for listening,

Zahra Cruzan

Founder, The Brand Collaborative And Brand Author

The Brand Collaborative      Brand Author


Intro  0:02  
You're listening to the Brand Collaborative Podcast with your hosts Zahra Cruzan and Ian Friedel. Our goal is to dive deep into the science and art behind creating a standout brand. Join us as we interview experts discuss case studies, and talk with entrepreneurs leading the next great brands.

Zahra  0:26  
Today, we are going to be talking about technology to craft remarkable brand experience. And I love this topic because I feel like experience is sometimes the redheaded stepchild when we think of branding, we always think of the marketing and the logo and the pictures and all the cool fun stuff that we design out. But then how do you create that experience consistently? And I think that that's especially important to talk about in the restaurant industry, because restaurants are nothing if they are not chaos. And so how do you build consistency in a very chaotic environment. And so I am loving our guests today. Her name is Emily Sigler. And the reason that I love Emily, and I'll get into her bio in just a second is that she sees this industry from all sides, she's done it all. She has been behind the scenes in front of the camera all the way around it. She knows exactly what restaurant owners and chefs deal with on the back end. And so it really helps her put a lot of thoughtfulness into what needs to happen on the front end to create that consistency. So welcome, Emily. I am so excited to have you here. Before we bring you before we get into the meat I just want to tell you a little bit about Amy. So Emily is originally from New Jersey, and she fell in love with baking in the hospitality industry in high school and college. She continued on that track attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where she received her bachelor's degree. And then she spent the next 10 years working as a pastry chef. So she has got legit street cred. She is a working chef. So her role, her first role out of the kitchen was with St. Charles Brewing Company where she became a sales rep. And that's where she found toasts where she just instantly fell in love and knew that that was her home where she needed to be. She's been working in the San Antonio area as an account executive and now she is the team lead for toasts. She is married. She's also married to a chef so I feel like on a personal level, we can have wine because we're very people because it's a different breed of so her husband Greg smuggler is a brew master for Alamo beer company. So that is like a local for those of you who aren't in San Antonio, that is a local gym. They are like the cool kids on the block when it comes to beer microbrewing. So super cool. And they have two daughters, Alexis 11 and Olivia who is eight. So what's it like having girls I just have to ask I have a boy so

Emily  3:00  
yeah, we it's all girls in our house I even our dogs a girl so I say so we do a lot of dancing, there's a lot of glitter. There's a my youngest is is very girly. She loves dressing up all the time. My oldest is a little bit more of a tomboy. But it's really fun having girls my 11 year old she's getting to the tough age. So gosh, my eight year old still really likes me.

Zahra  3:25  
We're at the point where you know, we're getting snails in the pockets and rocks for the rock collection you know it takes it takes like 30 minutes before I can even do laundry to shake out everything out of the pockets and pants and and it's crazy

Emily  3:40  
from what the younger years are harder with boys and the teenage years are harder with girls

Zahra  3:50  
Yeah, so I so I met Emily actually a long time ago pre COVID So we actually had a mutual client that we were working with, they were about to open their brand their business and we were working on their brands and Emily was getting them set up with toasts and we were just so impressed by not just Emily but also the software toast itself. So I'm gonna let you Emily tell us a little bit about toast so that I'm so that you can do it justice better than I can.

Emily  4:20  
Yeah, for sure. So with toast we are a full restaurant management and point of sale platform or point of sale first. So that that is the original part of our business but it is truly so much more than that. Because now we're designed to be a in house all in house one solution go to one place to run your business. So we have everything from the point of sale side includes kitchen display screens, handhelds terminals, of course we have options for digital ordering for full for in house dining with our order and pay at the table online ordering third party delivery We now have payroll as well as inventory solutions. And that just scratches the surface, we integrate with over 150 technology partners. So if we don't build it in house, which we're at the point where it is pretty well end to end. But we do have integration partners, if there's anything else that you need. Some of our big ones are open tables, one of one of our biggest ones radiant is one I'm excited about. It's digital menu boards that link up to your to your menu in the point of sale. So if you make make a change on the menu, it's automatically going to show up on your digital menu boards. And again, there's much, much more, so you really can run your entire business out of out of one platform.

Zahra  5:43  
Yeah, and I love that. So I'm gonna say, for those of you guys who don't know, my story, our first business, our first entrepreneurial venture was a restaurant, we were in our mid 20s. And one thing that I remember so back then, so this was back in like 2010. So it's a long time ago. And back then, you didn't have so many platforms that you could use as a small business, you were either like big enough to get into loha, or you were making it work with like square. And so we found a software, I don't remember what it was, but it was it was very new, like technology really wasn't there yet, when it came for software solutions for small businesses. And so I remember, you know, just the amount of time that it took at the end of the day, you know, tip outs, hotshot orders, you know, just all the little tiny things that happened in the day. Because when you're in a restaurant, there's just so much more chaos than more traditional industries. And so, you know, you could be running a couple of hotshot orders, you've got items that are at six that you run out of within, you know, one minute you got it the next you don't. And so it's a little different than when you're on Amazon, or when you're on a different platform when you can see the inventories coming in. So definitely, especially when you're a new business, and you're, you know, a restaurant, and you're kind of having to track things like inventory, right? So you're learning how much do I need to have on stock because you don't want to over purchase because it is obviously consumable, and you've got a very short term shelf life on it. But you also don't want to be running out of things. So you're still learning that? What am I busy seasons? What am I busy days, what am I selling more of a not. And so there's a lot of last minute ordering, learning how to do tip out learning how to do scheduling properly, all that kind of stuff. And so if you've got the software that's tracking that kind of information, you know, what you've what you're doing in comps, you know, what you're doing in order what your best sellers are, when you're dead season time is, when you know that helps you save so much money on the back end with scheduling and all that kind of stuff. And so I just love that there's technology out there for the people who need it most the startup restaurants that, you know, they don't have the manpower to manually track this, throw it in an Excel and then look at it, you know, in a big table and

Emily  8:11  
still want a lot of people are even doing today. And I know you were talking with your restaurant. Traditionally, it's pen and paper and excel forms. And that's how people are doing it. Especially tip out that's still on well, we'll touch on that for sure. Because we've cracked it we have automated restaurant tip out through our payroll platform. So it's technology is here to make your life easier to to make you have more visibility into your business and making a better bottom line. I mean, that's what it's here for we want we want our restaurants to make more money. And that's what we're seeing is that compared to similar restaurants, when they when a restaurant switches to toast, they become more profitable. If they're using the software correctly, if they're utilizing the modules, you're gonna make more money.

Zahra  8:57  
Yeah, and US and US hit it on the head. I love what you said. Because when you say they make more money, you make the point of specifying profit margin. And as a brand, you know, based marketing, that's what we talked about, you cannot compete, you cannot sell 12 tacos for $1. Like there's just not like we're not in a place where the cost of food is industry does not allow for it. And so really, you know, you've got to protect that margin. And yes, getting more volume is great. But with that more volume, comes more cost of goods and comes more labor and comes more need for square footage sometimes. And so really, when you're being smart about it is opening up that profit margin and finding those efficiencies as well. So tell me a little bit about that. So I know I've been I've been tracking toes we're big Dan. So so we we said everybody that we know and everybody that we work with if they need a suggestion, we send them over to toes.

Emily  9:49  
Thank you for that. That's wonderful. We like bonuses for anybody that does that as well. So always let us know when you when you tell someone they should talk to us.

Zahra  9:57  
Oh, that's awesome. So I know over the past few years test has taken extraordinary measures to go beyond the typical typical POS platform. And you, you talked a little bit about that, but provides and provide your customers with more opportunity to touch customers. So let's talk about that. So this episode is all about how do we use technology to touch our customers more often and build relationships with them? Can you tell me what it was that post leadership saw as an opportunity or a need for the businesses that they work with and say, You know what, pos not enough, we got to we got to put more features in this we've got you know, it can't just be about, you know, ordering and the order customer journey in that little segment that loop, it's got to also go beyond that. So tell me what toasts on why they, they, you know, opened up what they were doing. Talk a little bit about that, if you could,

Emily  10:48  
yeah, so toast has been a company for 11 years now. And when it originated, are, where it actually started is our founders were sick of waiting to pay their tab in a bar, they just wanted they want I have this smartphone in my pocket, there should be a way for me to be able to pay for my taprooms phone. So that's what they originally started building. And then they when they got into restaurants, they realized that the technology wasn't there on the point of sale side to make this happen. So they're like, Okay, we gotta fix point of sale first. And then we can get to this digital ordering digital paying, make the experience better. So that's, that's why point of sale came to be and that's what we started as. And then the full circle thing is we released actually, right when COVID first hit, because it's the elephant in the room. I know we've we don't like talking about it, but it definitely affected our industry. Yeah, that's when we released order and pay, which is that QR code ordering, you can start a tab you can add to it, and you can pay it out yourself. So it's full circle now, but it took us 11 years to get to get there to get to that original piece. And one of the things that we and when we looked at when we looked into the point of sale, there just there wasn't any integration. It was just you had these legacy based systems, your micros Aloha squirrel back then the systems that yes, they work in house, but they don't integrate to anything, so you can't attach anything to it. So that's where we started. And I'm sure I'm sure a lot of a lot of your listeners have seen toast. We are really exploding. We're up above 50,000 customers now all across the US. And the most of our growth has been in the past three to four years.

Zahra  12:39  
Yeah, I love that brand story. I think that's fantastic. Because see, I thought like from the outside looking in, it looked like you guys started as a POS, and then you were like, Hey, there's more to it than the logistics, you've got to factor in the customer experience. But now what I'm understanding is like they started the whole creative. So they were so far ahead of their time that they understood that where the future bricks and mortar business was going was all about who was going to make? Because you know it isn't that time, you know, you talked about that time span when when they started is. And we've always said it. We've always been crazy, because we've always said that because everybody's moving to online. And definitely online shopping is a thing and it's not going away. And it's going to continue to grow. But we've always said, but you'll never be sort of well, you just all the bricks and mortar are going to shut down and we saw sharper image and Payless and like one by one, you know the department stores, everything was shutting down. And so there was a big move. And a lot of agencies, a lot of ad agencies and marketing agencies shifted to digital, they're like, well, we just don't work with bricks and mortar because their days are numbered anyways. And we've always said you know what, but it isn't there is a space for that there will always be things you will never just like remotely get your hair cut, and you will never remotely get a massage. You will never remotely have a beautiful fine dining date. You know, like there is just something that you will always want and need as humans crave that personal connection with you know, and so I don't think that'll ever go away. And the people that survive in that space are going to be the people who master the brand experience. Understand that?

Emily  14:16  
Yeah, and it's crazy. Having that digital presence be available to all of your customers however they want to buy from you. Get in make it easy to buy from you. Especially in restaurants in in house dining is never going to go away. We may order takeout more now. But I My birthday was on Monday and we went and had a wonderful dinner at Python O's. It's a great Italian restaurant near here. We spent two and a half hours there with my in laws and my family. And that experience would never be the same if we just ordered takeout. Yeah, it's the the restaurants that we're seeing. And we're restaurant specific. So I know, I know, you cater to more than just restaurants. But for this, we're mostly going to talk about restaurants here. But the ones that are succeeding are the ones that have embraced and not not just getting by not just surviving this pandemic, the ones that we have restaurants that are doing better than that pre pandemic numbers. And it's because you've embraced the digital side, and utilize technology to streamline in house operations as well.

Zahra  15:27  
Yeah, absolutely. And, and it's funny, because a lot of our clients that we have been kind of nagging to update their website before COVID, all of a sudden, we're like, Okay, I'm here, you. Yeah, so digital is definitely not going away. You know, and, and there's been a lot of software and even service based companies that have sprung up during this time getting food delivered to people, but there's something about that experience, that customer journey, that relationship. And it's also an important part of building the brand and building the loyalty and building the following. And I think that's so cool that like, 10 years ago, they just, they knew it, it was like, and they built it 10 years ago, so that by the time COVID hit, it was just like a perfect, you know, a perfect storm. So tell me a little bit about how so we know, you know, we talked about the money and how important it is to help your margins and because I'm always gonna talk about money when it comes to definitely an episode about experience, but but also, you know, at the end of the day, if you want to give them an experience, you got to be open, so and thriving, and how you know, that revenue coming in. But talk a little bit about some of the features or the things that you're able to do with toasts as a restaurant owner or as a restaurant brand. And, and tell me how that affects the customer base? how are customers responding specifically to things? You know, so that that restaurants are doing? And what are some of the cool things you've seen restaurants do? Because I know that there is that that customization or that personal touch aspect that, you know, we have a lot of people, especially artists we shy away from, I'm not an artist by any means. But I'm I'm with them when it comes to shying away from technology a lot, because it's this feeling of well, if we automate everything, if we put everything into a machine, we lose that, that personal touch, but what but the truth is that sometimes that technology allows us to provide a more customer experience, and allows us to do the things that we want to do personally, more consistently, rather than, like whenever we have time whenever it's dead. You know, so So talk a little bit about that.

Emily  17:43  
Yeah, so it's kind of, I'm gonna take it in in a two fold, two fold answer here. So because we do have a whole guest facing side, and we're definitely going to talk about our marketing loyalty platforms. But just when you're talking about in the restaurant, and you're absolutely right, with restaurant tours, are not the most tech savvy group, there are some that are very tech savvy and love to embrace technology. But I would venture to say that it's not the average, I think there's more that say, Hey, I don't want a handheld in my restaurant, that's a fine dining establishment that's going to take away from the experience, I don't want that or my cooks are, they're so used to printing tickets, they're not going to know how they're not going to want to use a screen I don't I want to stay away from that. Just keep it that basically keep it the same, update the terminals and keep everything else the same, which we can do, if that's what you want us to do. But it's really not what you want us to do you want us to help you make the restaurant more efficient. And one of the ways that I I always this is what I say to my customers and prospects is hospitality is not order taking and running checks. That is not hospitality. It's not when you go out to a restaurant to do hospitality is your server being present for you. Filling that drink when it's empty, making sure that you not getting the check to you and paying it out in a timely fashion. The the two worst things about a dining experience is waiting for a drink and waiting to pay or check that those are the two worst things no matter even if the food is excellent. And the service is good. You're going to be a little bit annoyed if you're if you're waiting on those two things. So when you can bring something like a handheld terminal into play, it makes it so that your servers never leave the floor. They don't have to wait in line behind other servers. How many times have you seen three servers deep waiting to put there for tables that they just got it?

Zahra  19:46  
Let me tell you worse it is

Emily  19:53  
so and it's done done well with training. It's not it's just a tool. I mean, if they're writing it down They're looking at the, the piece of paper anyway. So there, it's quicker to just do it on a handheld. So that's some of the ways that in, in house, it can really enhance the dining experience. Because that never has to be an empty drink thing, you're gonna get your food faster, if you can. And most people, if they would have one drink, they'll probably one or two, if they were one or two, they'll probably order three, you just have to get to them in time. And those are all the things that if you can get one more round of drinks on each tape on a handful of tables a night, that's where you're going to, you're gonna up your bottom line.

Zahra  20:39  
Yeah, definitely. And I think that you know, just just to kind of go with it, like we in that vein is your PPA goes up, your tip is going to be higher your so you're gonna have better servers, you'll be able to recruit better servers. I waited tables all through college and and that was a big piece of it, right? You know, and sometimes as servers, we end up having to like change how we do things I remember when Oh, we hate it when there was like a trainee working right? Because it would take forever to put the orders in. And so we would literally, you know, sandbag or orders if I got like triples add or if I were by not sat and even if I got sad again, I would wait to put my orders like, ah, the new kids have micros like, there's no way I'm like, I'm gonna be standing there forever. But then what happens is, you wait 10 minutes, then you bring in three tables, and now your kitchen hates you. Right. And so like, it's it's a vicious cycle, you forget anything. Yeah, and the cool like, back then there wasn't much you could do about it. But now there is. And the crazy thing is, is that now these things are no longer than nice to have. It's the standard, it's the expectation, right there, you know, you know, there's there's a really big and then you know, there's there's your obvious not to take it back to bottom line, but turning tables and you know, just enjoy their experience. But also you get more one on one time. You know, like I you know, we've all been in situations where you see your server hustling, you're not mad at them, but you're still not getting what you need when you need it, and you're getting frustrated, because you've got to be somewhere you got to be back at work or, you know, maybe it's after graduation, and you're you know, having a party afterwards that you can't get out of there. And so you pay the big bill, but they gotta split 12 ways. And you know,

Emily  22:25  
the industry, if you're in the restaurant industry, you understand you see them running around like crazy people, you're not getting angry. If people are not in the restaurant industry,

Zahra  22:34  
they are on your cell phone somewhere. And they might not come back.

Emily  22:37  
Like that's just true. I have actually educated my family because I'm the my whole family's medical. So when I decided to go to culinary school, they tried to they tried everything they could to talk me out of it. But I said no, I'm gonna make wedding cakes for a living. This is what I'm going to do. And I've educated that when we've been at restaurants, and they've been rolling their eyes and like, look around, look, they he just got sat there. He's at a table. This isn't that he'll be here. Yeah,

Zahra  23:03  
I was like, they're not letting him out of that kitchen unless he's running food. So he's gonna wait for a trade but get popped up. So it's all those things that Yeah, you don't see. But for sure, making those one on one, you know, recommendations that also helps with like, buddy work, right? So you think about the customer experience? How awful is it? When you can't find your server? You know, because they're busy doing something, something's come up, and you want to order another drink, and you ask the first server that you see. And they're like, Yeah, I'm not your server, I don't know what you are, you know, or, you know, they asked for a ranch or a dressing or a site or something, and they can't bring it up. And so you know, that it's just like, you gotta go find your server, right? All these little experience things that happen. And as people who are going out to eat again, like you said, unless you've been in the industry, when you've been in the industry, you get it, you're like, Okay, well, they're not my server, don't bug them, you know, they can't bring it up anyways, they've got their own set of four tables.

Emily  24:02  
Probably still leave a decent tip. If Yeah, like

Zahra  24:07  
but it but it does, it affects the experience. And then it affects like, why don't want to ask for this or that. And so, um, you know, really having the software in there specifically like to be able to have those handhelds and not have to disappear for five minutes while you bring in 10 orders to not have to, you know, do some of those things that we do or god forbid you, you write something down. And then you leave it in your apron, and you forget to bring it in. And then 10 minutes go by, you're wondering, and you're at your table as how the food's coming and you're like, Oh, my God, completely forgot. But if you're sitting there at the table, bringing it up, that eliminates a lot of that, so there's no need to send out free appetizers and you know, have your blood pressure go up through the roof.

Emily  24:51  
We have a customer in Austin, there's a case study about it. I can send you the link for it so we can put it in the notes. They're called odd duck. If you may have eaten there. They're wonderful. Oh yeah, you I highly recommend that. But when they switched over to toasts their first year, they brought in half a million dollars in incremental revenue. And they attribute it to switching over to the handhelds. Because you're able to be at the table more, you can turn those tables faster, you can get more on each table. And the other cool thing that we did is we did, we put Fitbits on two servers, one with pen and paper and one with a handheld, and then let them run the shift. And it was like two miles more that the person with pen and paper he walked. So wear and tear on your servers to Yeah, and the other thing I was going

Zahra  25:41  
to point out is like when you're doing it there and a hand up, when you're taking an order in at the table, they're like, We all know the upsells for the money that right? But if you are not prompted about the upsell, until you're six tables away at the nearest micros, then you forget to ask those questions and servers, you know, don't always stick around to be that so that they ingrained that they don't always know the menu. And so, you know, in twofold one, you know, there's not that prompting system for upsells. But then also, when you think about it, how many times has somebody at a table ask the question, and the server has no idea, can I get that with no this or no that? Like, I don't really know, I gotta go, you know, and of course, they kind of respond with this, like the Gesell ask if you really want me to, but then I'm gonna go to the micros, I'm gonna have to find a manager and I'm gonna have to this or that, you know? And so then what does the guest typically do? Because you're sending that live out as a server, they're like, Oh, don't worry about it. Don't worry about it, forget it, you know, I'll just take this instead. Or I'll just, you know, not order it. And so like, there's so much missed opportunity there when you just have that and you can be like, Can I hit the button? No tomatoes? Can I take that out? Or, you know what I mean? Like, all that information is right, right there, you know, in right at your fingertips. And that really helps. It's a great tool, because one of the things and I know we're like super off track here, but it just was great conversation. So we're gonna roll with it. Even when I give myself questions, I still squirrel which is like, give myself questions. One of the things that like I wish a lot of people would remember is that your servers are not food runners, they are your sales team. And if they don't have the tools that they need to make that sale, they're not going to make that sale. And so if you want to up your PPA, if you want to unload that thing that you need to get rid of next week, if you want to test out a limited menu item, if you want, you know all of that to happen, then, you know, we think of servers, and we call them servers. In a ways we think of them as like the filling a role of service of refilling drinks, running food, taking orders, you know, like an assistant or you know, some like an admin assistant of restaurants, if you will, but they're your salespeople, that's where the money is made. So everything you do on the marketing and and the social media and all that good stuff to get them through the door, comes to a head. They're the restaurant. And so like giving them and properly equipping them to do their job like you wouldn't send, I couldn't sit down and do a sales pitch for a brand without a PowerPoint or without, you know, a knowledge base or without a pricing sheet knowing you know how much you know what how we're going to solve this problem or how we're going to get them what they need. Every salesperson has tools. And so the the problem of the how good your tools are, is going to really affect how well your sales team does, which is really your servers. Yeah, I love that. I just wrote it down because I'm gonna steal it. Great. That's awesome. Okay, so tell me how important is it to track customer behavior? And what kinds of things can we have CEOs and restaurant owners do with this information? So we talked a lot early on about tracking and study. Like if there's one thing and I don't care what business you're in, aka what industry you're in, the sooner you can start collecting data, the better and smarter your business will be, the quicker you're gonna see that margin increase. So tell me about what how you think why that's important and what kinds of things you can do.

Emily  29:18  
Yeah, so on the restaurant side, I would say tracking, tracking your customer behavior. It's more on like your customer base not you could get super granular and track it down to per person, but I think it's a bit more your overall base. But looking at things like your product mix, what's what's selling the best, what is it? It's a lot of what I tend to see, especially with restaurants that have been around for a long time. Because they'll say, Well, I know. I know my restaurant. I know my kitchen. I know my inventory. I know what's there I put I know, and yes, I am sure you know I'm sure that they know a ton about their business, but there's no way that everybody can hold that on their brain. Tech technology makes it so that you can easily see oh, look at that this menu item that I thought was doing okay. Well, it actually is one of my lowest sellers, and people complain about it a lot. So when am I getting like, look at those customer comments, what's working? What's not working? What days, am I most busy? Again, you might if you if you've been a restaurant tour for a long time, you know these things off the top of your head, but having the data to back it up as well. Just makes it so that it solidifies the opinion that you've already had. And then you can make decisions like, Okay, well, if I'm going to launch a loyalty platform, if I'm going to launch this, maybe I do double two point stays on Tuesdays, because my Tuesdays Tuesday lunch are really slow. So let me implement that. You can also see if you've launched, if you're launching something like an email marketing campaign, or you're putting something out on social media and doing a big blast, put a promo code on there, and track how many people are coming in, and then look at it against Okay, I did this promo in February. And now I'm looking to do another one in March. Okay, what worked? What worked best for me two months ago, what can I tweak a little bit, and then you can build up another campaign that is going to be more impactful on your business. And I say to people all the time, toast is a is an extraordinarily powerful tool. But it is a tool. So if you buy a brand new drill, and never take it out of your toolbox, it's not going to help you. So when you you need to you need to use the tool to get the benefits of it. Analyze, analyzing your data is going to help you do that.

Zahra  31:51  
I love that. I think, you know, one thing that you said was I know my customers are everybody loves this. And we have the same experience on the brand side. And we always say your your recollection of how well your brand is doing is only as good as the last three comments, testimonials or feedback pieces that you've gotten. And so, you know, it's just like you said, Oh, everybody loves this burger. But is that true? Or is the last two people you talk to really love your burger, and they represent 3% of your customer base? Right? And so those are the kinds of things you know, we do this exercise all the time, you know, we have brands come in. Because we hear that no matter what industry restaurant, you know, we do a lot with Amazon products and service space. And they say I know my customers, they know, you know, I know my customers, I know what they want, I know what they like, and but it's all in here. But once we pull the data and we say okay, who exactly are your customers? What exactly did they purchase? And where did they come from? And how often do they purchase it and what was their experience? Now all of a sudden, the data is completely different than what we heard in the discovery. And it happens all the time, all the time. And so and I don't think anybody is immune to it. Because we even have to do that. Even in our in branding, and we do these things for other companies all the time, we still have to go through the process of write it down, you know, pull the data look at it. Because what we think our customers are digging about us, or what we think we're doing well, sometimes isn't sometimes isn't, you know, and so just kind of looking at that, that's super important to have that. So I love that you said that.

Emily  33:30  
Another good thing that I thought of on this note, too, with going back to inventory tracking, because I'm sure that's something I'm sure you're experiencing that there's it's either pen and paper, there's a lot of restaurants that do that. It's all in their head, they don't they don't exactly do it at all. But maybe that burger that everybody loves, maybe it's not your most profitable item, they love it. But if it's not your most profitable item, maybe it shouldn't be your special, maybe your special should be something that people like, but that you make more that has a that has a better profit margin for you. Because in the end, that's going to help your business more than selling more of the product that already sells a lot. That isn't as profitable. Yeah,

Zahra  34:18  
we see that a lot. So a lot of times when we look at like customer insights, you know, you have your your signature item, that thing that burger everybody comes in for. But then sometimes, like you said, it's either not very profitable. And you have to make a decision about what to do with that. Like, do we pair that with something that does have a higher profit margin? Do we What's up so that we put with it, and then sometimes we add things that we think people really care about, but when we look at the data, nobody's commenting on it. So maybe we have like a secret chipotle sauce or something that comes with it every single time on the side and around the candidate. You know, it's costing us a bunch of money and 1000 people have bought it. And of those 1000 people 12 Have like mentioned the sauce like well, you know we're spending on lot of money to put it out there because we think it's a thing. And so then you can start to test it like, is it a thing? Is it not a thing? Do we need to bring it to the foreground? Do we need to pull in a focus group and see how are people liking this? Is it even worth the money? Because we're just adding cogs now, for no, no return on value, like there's no, but it doesn't add anything to the brand value, or the product value. So like understanding, you know, using technology to kind of make those correlations is is super important. So tell me how important to you is consistent markets, you've worked with? tons of restaurants all over the place? Big ones, small one, and everything in between? So tell me, how important do you think consistent marketing is for restaurants? And why do you think so many small businesses struggle with it?

Emily  35:46  
Yeah, so I think now more than ever, especially that this, the age that we're living in now, marketing is extremely important, whether it is through social media, through your website through email marketing, which we launched an eight a integrated email marketing platform last or a year and a half ago now. And it's one of my favorite ones, because it drives the most incremental revenue. The reason that it is super important to do it number one, you want to stay in touch with your customers, you want to stay top of mind, there's a lot of restaurants, a lot of businesses in the area, there's a lot of competition. And people might just not remember, but if they get an email, or if they're following your Instagram, they're like, Oh, I remember that. I love that burger when I went there. The other reason is, other restaurants are doing it. So if you don't do it, because I'm going around telling everybody that they should use it, and people are utilizing people that are utilizing toast, a lot of them are on our email marketing. So other your competitors are marketing, they are talking to their customer base. So if you're not, they're going to get ahead of you. The reason that I think so many people struggle with it is that is, it's not something that we've always had to do. So especially if you're at 1020 30 year old restaurant, you've been doing it the same way the whole time, you have a great customer base, you know what you're doing? So what isn't, if it's not broke, don't fix it, right? That's something that people might be able to say. But if you want to stay relevant, and you want to stay ahead of the pack, and be one of the front runners in whatever industry that you're in, you should use, especially social media marketing, it's free. You know, in a lot of cases, it's it's definitely something that it's only going to help the restaurant.

Zahra  37:40  
Yeah, I agree. So like one of the I think that that's so huge, because building that up consistently. So one of the things that we talked about, we work with with restaurants, specifically, is it's so important to have to look at your customers in terms of an EDL, or an estimated lifetime value for those of you guys who haven't heard that term, rather than just the new acquisition. So especially as a small business, you will lose your you know, what, in marketing spend constantly going after new customers who came out, try it once loved the food, but still forgot about you and never came back. Or it was another eight months before they came back. And you know, and that's a huge, and that is where a lot of restaurants feel like, you know, I don't have enough money to market and I'm spending too much on marketing. Well, there's two things, you know that we say that one, if you have these consistent things going number one, you're not spending money like say you spend $5 to get a lead come in the door. Well, you're like, Well, my burger is only $5. So I spent $5 To make $5 That's a terrible business plan. But if you have a plan that campaign to get them to spend over $500 with you throughout the year, I for 500 Not that right. And so those are the things and so like specifically, we have this formula that we use for brands that are for turning one time customers into Loyalty Program members and so we net what we know is that if we can get you to come back to a restaurant three more times within the month of the first time you've tried it, now you're in the rotation and we all know what we mean by like the rotation, right? Everybody's got your rotation the places that you go that are your go to spots. You know you've got your go to pizza place you got to go to Chinese takeout you got your go to like date night place, but we have to build the habit. And so and so if you are just like marketing on the random, then the effectiveness of that to turn somebody into a customer that once went to your place and you spent a lot of money to get them in the doors and they never come back into somebody who came into your doors three to four times that first month that they were that they first came in. Now we've got traction now you're in the rotation. Now you're there go to whatever place, right wherever, whatever your specialty is. And so that's really important. And that has to do with being able to strategically, consistently create, like, execute those campaigns. And in order to do that, with all the things that a restaurant owner has to do, you got to have systems, you got to have automated systems, you've got to have those emails and texts going out, you know, automatically once you capture their information, and so like having the technology that houses that information, that allows them to join a loyalty program that allows them to get that stuff out. Like that's, that's money right there like 100%. I love. Sorry.

Emily  40:41  
I love what you said with it being automatic, because that's, I think that's another reason that people, people get nervous about it. How much work is this gonna take? Do I need to hire someone to manage this, if I don't have time, my staff doesn't have time, I don't have the team for it. But there is the technology is there to automate it, have a drip campaign, new customer comes in, automatically send them an email, all you have to do is set it up one time, one time in the beginning. And that's it. After exactly. You can set agencies so you don't blast people too many times. But first time guests, big spenders, if I haven't been there, if a good customer hasn't been in in 30 days, you can set it up to automatically send them these marketing messages that will get them back in the door. And I could tell you, I have a great example of how it's worked. And this is with email marketing. So one of my customers my tengas pizzeria, there's a couple of them, they're about to open another one as well here in San Antonio. I am I'm a loyalty member on the I signed up to their email marketing, I get their emails every week, I didn't even open an email. It was just the subject line and it said a to one topping pizzas plus their garlic knots. That's what was on special. How's it gone? It's literally exactly what my family order is. I'm going to order that. Yes, I got that email on Monday. So I go on Friday, and I'm like, Okay, we're gonna get pizza. There's a special from the tengas. And it wasn't Yes, there are a customer of mine. And I try and support my customers. But the reason I went is because of that email, it's because I there was I was gonna get it for a better value. So I go in the online, place the whole order, do the whole thing. And I go back into the email to get the promo code. It was only available on Wednesday, because they're smart. And they don't do promos on Friday. Pizza. And do you know what I did? I bought it anyway. Anyways. Yeah, anyway,

Zahra  42:34  
yeah. And you know, what I'm gonna, there's two things I wanted to point out about that is one don't. So that's what we do. Exactly. We build out those campaigns for our clients and build it once they throw it in their software to send out and it just exists forever for anybody who comes in and then we look at it every six months, tweak it, how we need to tweak it, see if we can, what's new, and copy and, you know, layout design to optimize it. But like, that's, it's as simple as that. It doesn't have to be something that you're actively doing all the time. It's what we call a nurture sequence, and you just create it and it runs on autopilot. The other thing is, and I love what you said about that is like, don't be afraid to email people too much, because a lot of times we feel salesy or like pushy, that really, we feel that way. But that's not how your customer feels that way. Because in order for a customer to be annoyed by getting free stuff, or specials or reminders from you, they'd have to not like you, like when a friend calls you are You annoying? No. Especially a good friend, right? The more often they call you the better. But um, what's annoying is a business person that you don't like you're trying to avoid. And then they're constantly calling you like, Oh, my data goes green, my calls. But and so like, so don't think of yourself as the annoying friend because you're not they've been to your restaurant, they want it, they signed up for your loyalty program. They want to hear from you. They want to connect with you. They want to engage with you. They get excited, because every time they get that little email that's like two topping pizzas, and you know, they're like, oh, like a little present. This is awesome. And they get that that excitement. It's not like oh, god who's emailing me now, you know, because you're not buying these email addresses and spamming people. They're electing to get emails from you. And so give them what they want. Give them what they've asked for. They're literally asking you to send them stuff. That's why they sign up.

Emily  44:27  
I just got all my birthday rewards because our loyalty program it's automated birthday rewards. So I and I have five different restaurants that I got it all all on the same day. And it's and I got so excited. I felt like it was a gift. But if they're inviting me to spend money in the restaurant, yeah, I felt special.

Zahra  44:46  
Yeah, exactly. But okay, so like total sidenote, my sister is like a genius but she has like an XML spreadsheet that she doesn't she has her whole thing mapped out on their bridge. We call it the birthday, you like freebie and she just hits him up starting With the Krispy Kreme donuts in the morning, it works her way through the day. It's hilarious. She's she's got that on point. I tried it once a night, and I wasn't as good as her. But yeah, so like, those are those, that's one thing that I wanted to say you know about that is definitely keep in touch with them. And definitely keep sending those things out because they will and you know what the the big businesses, the big brands, they're doing it, I'm getting my text messages from Starbucks, telling me about a coffee happy hour, I'm getting the Chick fil A notifications, like, I'm getting those things. And so they do it because it works. And I think it's tremendous that even a mom and pop restaurant has access to the same tools to be able to use the same marketing, you know, advantage, you don't have to be the multibillion dollar franchise chain, to be able to consistently and send those emails out automatically, consistently, like the software exists. Even if you're a one stop shop, even if you're a mom and pop, even if you run, you know, just you know, 123, you know, locations, you could still implement this, like there's no, there's no barrier to entry here.

Emily  46:15  
You took the words right out of my mouth, I was gonna say the exact same thing. It's so exciting that technology is democratized enough now that anyone can utilize it. And that's, that's the beauty of toast is that yes, you pay for software, right? I mean, whenever you're using technology, you're going, if we set up a meeting, we're going to we're going to talk about what you're going to pay for toast. But the beautiful thing about it is that it truly pays for itself, time and time again. And if it didn't, you would not see toast exploding, you wouldn't see it at all, all the best restaurants that you're going

Zahra  46:50  
to. So on that note, like, since we got you here, can we get the inside scoop the behind the curtains, a sneak peek? What is on the horizon for toes? What is going on? What are you working on now that you're super excited about? Ah, so

Emily  47:06  
the things I mean, they're the two things that I am most excited about. And it's things that we already offer. I'll give you a little snippets in a minute here on some things on the horizon. But the things that I'm really, really pumped about is our payroll platform, which is not new. We've had we've had it for over three years now. But we just cracked typically. So like that's, I mean, like mind blown. Like it's, there's been apps out there, there's a couple apps out there that we have integrated with. But most people it's pen and paper, and it's a complete headache. And you don't even want to figure out how many hours your managers are spending on it. And what else could they be doing with their time? Yeah, that the other reason I'm excited about payroll is because we have, we now have options where you can offer benefits you can offer 401k, you can offer PTO, you can make it so that the restaurant industry is can be a career choice, not something you just do in high school in college. And um, me and my husband are perfect examples of this. Neither of us are in the kitchen anymore. And we both graduated from the CIA, like we went to the best culinary institute we fully planned we thought we were going to open our own restaurant someday we're going to be in it be in the kitchen our whole lives. And neither of us do it anymore. And it's the cut I know I I moved into the sales side for better hours better pay and benefits. Benefits was a big one I shifted when we had our second daughter. So it's it's really exciting to me to be able to offer the small mom and pop shops, you can still do this, it's not something that's out of your reach. So that's one of the things I'm super excited about. And then we acquired extra chef, which is a it's now at a toast company. And that is our invoice and vendor management platform where you can you can take a picture with your cell phone, if you have your invoices, and it automatically uploads them into your inventory. You can even make it so that your vendors can just send an email and it will automatically update it makes controlling your inventory and your profit margin. Those are the things that can really really affect your business. I always use the example of French fries to say if you have a handful of fries on a plate, right? Well, what if one of your cooks has really big hands? Yeah, there handful is is that it is? So those things? And yes, it's work to set up an inventory platform but it is 100% worth it. And I think that we just have right now you don't need to wait for those.

Zahra  49:46  
Yeah, my husband. We he was a chef for a long time and then he became a food and beverage director and now consults with restaurants and that's one of the things he says is, the hardest part isn't the shopping, it's the systems, it's the SOP, it's understanding, you know, ordering, purchasing, receiving POS, you know, understanding shelf life understanding, you know, FIFO under those little basic things, you know, and when you have to come in three hours early, you know, on a day to run receiving and get all your POS squared away and check inventory. And like, if you don't have a system for that, you're gonna waste your week, just doing it and doing it. Yeah, he's like, so you. So like, from the get go, you implement those systems. It's a pain to set it up. But everything on the back end is just throwing up throwing plants. Now, everything is really in the back end, makes everything so much smoother. And especially for restaurants, if you can get that built out, before you even open your doors. You're prepared for the chaos that ensues, like restaurants will always be an element of chaos. But it's manageable. It's controlled chaos. It's not like money, it's just hemorrhaging. And we don't even know from where, but it's Tuesday, and it's time to open. So we're gonna keep buying and producing and making hoping that we don't lose money today. And that's kind of where people because restaurant is a very immediate, you can't just hang back or pull back or you know, it's all day every day go in. And so you don't always have the time to set that up. Unless you make the time on the front ends, you know, and so really getting it set up is crucial.

Emily  51:29  
And what's exciting in this is a shift and shift in the industry is the new restaurants coming in the new restaurant tours starting up especially young people coming in starting their first restaurant, they're using these things. Yeah, they see the writing on the wall, they understand that they need to use these platforms to be more profitable. So for everybody that's been running for a long time. It just remember that the new the new, the new, latest and greatest is utilizing it. So again, you just want to stay ahead of

Zahra  52:01  
the curve. Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so this is my favorite part. We're going to move into rapid fire questions. Are you ready? I am. Okay. This is just a fun little thing that we do guys just to get to know Emily a little bit better. And then also just because it's super fun, and we love to talk shop, but we like to have fun too. So we're just gonna go for it. All right. We're ready. Your current local restaurant addiction.

Emily  52:31  
So I love Dashi, it's here in San Antonio. It's on 1000 oaks. It's run. It's the second restaurant for the San Juan house group. Christina xao is the owner and chef that runs it. traditional ceremonies cuisine, it is a fine dining like experience, but it is it's not fine dining prices. Food's amazing. But it's it's a great experience. I think good pricing. My kids love it. They do these special dinners that they market with with the email marketing where they throw throw the menus out, but they do at least one per month. Wonderful independent restaurant, good people, great food, highly recommend it.

Zahra  53:17  
Awesome. I love that. Okay, so what Netflix show are you binging binge watching right now?

Emily  53:23  
Raising Dion. So this is I just went I was on last week, I was on vacation with my family. We went skiing, it was so much fun in Colorado. And we on our down day, we got sucked into I think we watched three episodes of why we had to peel ourselves off the couch to go and do something because we just wanted to keep watching it. And it's PG so you can watch it with kids. But to everybody that doesn't have kids. If you're into superhero stuff. Don't let the PG steer you away because it's a really, really good show. I am sad I have to wait for my kids to watch

Zahra  53:59  
it. Really it's Robert and I are gonna have to check it out. But so what's hobby or habit you adopted during COVID

Emily  54:08  
I went a little houseplant crazy. I have a lot and they're all knock on wood. I think only like one of them died. I have like 15 around my house I went a little nuts. And I'm not I didn't do anything with plants before.

Zahra  54:24  
Really that wasn't natural for you because I've tried and failed repeatedly.

Emily  54:33  
You know what it all started as it started with is when I when I first got the job with toast which I've I'm coming up on three years now. I was given I think my husband gave me a money tree and I'm weirdly superstitious, not superstitious person person but like this money tree had to survive because I got it at the same time that I started with toast and I put so much I don't know like it. I'm very superstitious about it. But I found that one spot I have a ledge above my kitchen sink with a big window. That is where plants should start. So I start all of my plants there and they thrive and when once they get off the ground, I moved them to other places in the house. That's been my secret.

Zahra  55:18  
Okay, so I need to find a good spot in the house. I'm terrible. I wasn't a mint plant. That eventually was like just weeds I get because I took it from my grandma's like, I think, and I had no idea. So the mint died, the weeds thrives. Not that I was doing a great job. I did not even notice the difference like well, it doesn't smell as good but maybe because it's inside I had terrible I finally my husband comes in. What are you eating? And he's like, that's the that's not it at all with that is

Emily  55:52  
funny. Yeah, it grows so easily. We had a garden, it got out of our my husband does the outside garden, and it got out and like half our yard has been in it.

Zahra  56:01  
But yeah, that was my grandma. She had the whole like, wrapped around half the house. And so I just pushed again, just go ahead and pull some side bolts. I'm gonna put a little plant and I guess I got some weeds. And then when I did, I don't know. I just know. And that's me I

too black. So what's the favorite? What's your favorite thing about your job?

Emily  56:24  
So and this is gonna sound a little cheesy, and you're gonna think this is a this is like a sales pitch. But it's truly not. The reason that I love working for toast. Number one, I love restaurants. There was I had one job where I sold building marquee signs. I only did it for six months, I got out of the restaurant industry because I thought that I wanted to do something else. And no, I wasn't. It wasn't the right fit for me came that that's really what I found toast. So I love that I'm in restaurants every day. I'm still part of this industry, but I'm not necessarily on the line anymore. But the reason I love it is because I truly am helping small businesses be more successful. I see it with now that I've been with hosts for almost three years, my early customers are opening their second and third locations. And I get so much joy out of that because I truly feel like my job is impacting the community, the industry in a positive way.

Zahra  57:22  
Awesome. I love that. All right. favorite ice cream flavor.

Emily  57:28  
Cherry Garcia Ben and Joey's when I was pregnant with my first daughter, I had an obsession with cherries, cherry yogurt and Cherry Garcia all the time. And then my second it was green olives. Weird.

Zahra  57:42  
I was watermelon water. No,

Emily  57:44  
it's heavier water. That's good.

Zahra  57:48  
Strange. Okay, so I'm in order delivery?

Emily  57:53  
I say both. It depends on it depends on my mood. We usually go out to eat as a family at least once a week. And we usually order takeout or get delivery once or twice a week. So it just just depends on the

Zahra  58:10  
mood. Things is what's your favorite place in SA right now?

Emily  58:16  
And is this a I was assuming this one is like not necessarily restaurants we already are in there. I really love the Botanical Gardens. It's you know, in the tech world, I stare at the screen for a lot of my life. So getting outside that beautiful space, they always have events. A great restaurant there. Now Jason dadey Just put in a lot, just opening a year, but Hardeen is delicious. So you can stop in and have a good lunch while you're there. Their kids garden is super cool.

Zahra  58:46  
Yeah, it's very nice. Okay, so what is the best piece of advice that you would give to a restaurant owner just starting out?

Emily  58:55  
So I would say and I would have said this anyway, not just because we're on this call, but really think about what you want your brand to be? Who are you who is this restaurant, who's your clientele, but really think about what you want it to be. And then don't be afraid to utilize technology to get there. The other part, don't forget customer experience is great, especially in this day and age. Don't forget about your employee experience. Everybody knows, hiring and keeping staff is a nightmare right now. So do yourself a favor. And think about that when you're planning out who you're going to use for payroll, how have your have your employee handbook in your head as or maybe not handbook but your employee experience is just as important as your customer experience, because they're the ones that are going to deliver your customer experience.

Zahra  59:49  
Yeah, that's I love that. You said that because one of the things that we do with brands is we look we don't just do the front end. We do the back end, right so Like we have, as part of the brand strategy, onboarding, training for new hires into the brand and that culture, and we start building the lingo, you know, it's like, it's restaurant lingo, like behind you or heard or things, you know, hot behind like that are industry terms. But then also every restaurant develops their own language and their own, you know, like their own little rituals and their own little ways that they do stand ups and things like that. And like, how are you training and building that culture within your company to get people to come in there, because if you're, if your servers and your cooks are like at each other's throat, and they're not having a good time, then your customers aren't having a good time. And no one's like that. That's an energy and vibe that carries and so just going back to that experience, you know, really and truly, that's super important. I love that you said that.

Emily  1:00:49  
And bad service, supersedes good food in a lot of times, doesn't always make up for terrible service. Yep. So you gotta got 100% agree with

Zahra  1:01:04  
that 100% 110%. It's very, very true. So thank you, Emily, so much for joining me today. I love today's episode, because I think our listeners are gonna get so much value from what they heard. So often, business owners are given, like advice of things that they should do. But like building brand experience, but it's rare to find experts that will show you behind the curtains and what it looks like. And so I love that you came here with so many examples of how specifically the restaurants that you work with are using this technology to help build a better brand experience, and then how that helps affect and improve their profit margin and their revenue on the back end of it. So it really drives it home, like improving your customer experience isn't something that you should get around to when you're less busy. But like it's important, it needs to happen now. And this is how it's going to help you this is why you should do it. I love that. Okay, so how can we get in touch with you? How do we get with you? If we're looking at maybe switching over to toes or for restaurants starting out? We want to get with toast? How do we make your person for technology?

Emily  1:02:11  
Gotcha. Well, well for me, I'm I'm the team lead here in San Antonio. So I man, I manage the sales team in the city. So I have I have two people under me. They're wonderful. So you, if you're in San Antonio, you you'll be working with one of them. And I work closely with them. But just for anyone I know this is it's much bigger than just the San Antonio area. So on our website, pos dot toasts There's a request to demo right on there. It's done by zip code, we have a lot of boots on the ground reps. So there may be someone that is local in your territory that you're gonna start out with a quick phone call. And then they can come in and talk with you in the restaurant. Because we like it, we do have an inside team as well. So there's not every single city doesn't have a local rep, but we have coverage. So that it may be it may be a phone call or resume. But we really like coming into the restaurant, walking around seeing, seeing how you operate, seeing how we can help how we can consult you on what products would work best because every restaurant is different. So that's going on the website, you can request the demo right on there, someone will reach out within a day usually. And we can come in and get the conversation started. The other thing that I think the your restaurant base will really like is we have a it's called on the line. And it is a it's like a blog. It's a blog, where and it's basically there's articles on basically everything within the restaurant industry, how to launch our marketing plan, how we have business plan templates, we have employee handbook, templates, and just information from the restaurant industry. We also consult with our customers. So it's not just us here on on this side, we consult with our customers for things like this as well. So I would definitely check that out. Yeah,

Zahra  1:04:04  
that is awesome. So so that you guys know, we're gonna leave the show notes on the bottom here. And that is going to take you if you click on that link, you're going to have access to how to get in touch with specifically Emily, how to connect with her all the links she just talked about. To get you information on demos and getting with the rep or giving a consultation. We're going to go in there for you tons of extra goodies. It's all going to be there for you. So be sure to go and check out the show notes. And look her up and read a little bit more about Emily and toasts. And that should do it for today. Thank you guys so much for listening, and I had a great time. And that will be it. We'll see you guys next week.

Emily  1:04:48  
Thanks so much for having me really appreciated.

Intro  1:04:52  
Thank you for listening to this week's episode of the brand collaborative podcast. For more information on today's episode, be sure to visit the brand collaborative dot Adnet we'll see you next time

Emily SpicklerProfile Photo

Emily Spickler

San Antonio Team Lead

Originally from New Jersey I fell in love with baking and the hospitality industry in high school & college. I continued on that track attending The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York where I received my Bachelors Degree and spent 6 months as a Teaching Assistant. The next 10 years were spent working as a Pastry Chef at various locations including restaurants in Maine and Montana & a private hunting ranch in South Texas. My first role out of the kitchen was with Saint Arnold Brewing Company as the San Antonio Sales Rep which kept me in the restaurant industry but this time as a vendor. When I found Toast I knew it was a perfect fit, I have the privilege everyday of helping restaurants become and remain successful. I have been a Toaster for 3 years starting as the San Antonio Account Executive and recently moved into a leadership role as Team Lead in August of 2021.

I have a wonderful husband who I met in college (Gregg Spickler - Brewmaster for Alamo Beer Co, San Antonio) and together we have two beautiful daughters (Alexis-11 & Olivia-8).