Jodi Boyce, a 22-year veteran in restaurant and franchise marketing, serves as the EVP of Marketing for Teriyaki Madness, a fast-casual Asian restaurant concept featuring a Seattle Teriyaki menu. Teriyaki Madness was founded in 2003 and currently has franchise agreements for nearly 150 locations in the United States. Jodi’s extensive career includes stints with Smashburger, Einstein Bros Bagels, Quiznos and various marketing agencies, but her claim to fame is driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile around the country as a Hotdogger, doing marketing, PR and promotions right out of college. Jodi’s role at Teriyaki Madness includes overseeing the marketing team and touching anything related to the brand, including overall national branding efforts, defining the brand voice, personality and supporting programs.
We asked Jodi to share her perspective on the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in the context of restaurant operations at Teriyaki Madness.
Why is it so important to keep Teriyaki Madness shops as fully operational as possible?
If you look back at the recession from 2008, brands that pulled back on marketing and operations to “save money” were the ones who didn’t make it out when the recession ended. We are pushing harder than ever to stay open for our customers, shop owners and employees, and to get our delicious food into people’s mouths any way we can (without touching them).
How has Teriyaki Madness implemented technology to help mitigate the consequences of COVID-19 for restaurant owners and operators?
We are thankful to have created a great foundation for delivery with third-party partners and the launch of our app in June of 2018. In direct response to the challenges presented by COVID-19, we are working to push our systems even further.
We are offering curbside pickup at most of our TMAD shops and our current focus is on making this experience as seamless as possible for customers and employees. Through an integration with our existing app, customers can enter their car make, model and color so it’s easy for our shops to accurately distribute orders as diners pull up. We’re also testing a program to enhance curbside pickup with location-aware technology that alerts the shop when a customer is in-route and again when they’ve arrived.
Our cloud-based POS has allowed us to add drive-thrus in TMAD parking lots where they didn’t exist originally. We take our ipads out to take orders (six feet away, of course), and will bring customers their food – still fully customizable and made-to-order – to their car when it’s ready.
Because our patrons are not able to dine out, our call-ahead orders have increased. We try to encourage those customers to order online or in the app but we have also enabled Olo’s Switchboard which allows cashiers to take orders over the phone and add delivery options for the customer as if they ordered online.
What has been the franchisee, employee and customer response to the different measures you are taking?
Our franchisees have been not only appreciative of the efforts, but have been actively participating in the next steps of the plan. They’re thinking outside the box and coming up with new ideas. Together, we work out the details, make the necessary technology changes and creative to market the program and roll with it.
The most crucial element of our business right now is communication. In addition to internal messaging for our network, we utilize and see the important role of social media in reaching our customers. Besides the ways in which we can get food in their hands, we are also offering accessibility through discounts, promotions and new programs to benefit families and healthcare workers.
What do you predict are the long term implications or potential benefits of the current crisis for the industry?
Restaurant technology provides accessibility and ease that we believe consumers will be trained to expect, even as the crisis passes. We will likely see demand for delivery and pickup grow, especially with consumers who are now using it for the first time. The trend toward speed and convenience is not something new for our industry, but we predict that will be amplified as consumers have now had a taste of it on a mass scale. Implementation of these tools will only continue to increase.
Larger focus on delivery means a change in physical footprint as well. Some restaurants will require smaller spaces. For others, larger kitchens than dining rooms. We expect to see ghost kitchens become more prevalent and more drive-thrus built.
We know that many brands won’t survive, but we think Teriyaki Madness will thrive. We have extremely hardworking franchisees and an incredibly caring and results-driven corporate team. Programs that normally take months to implement are being rolled out in days or even hours as we work around the clock to provide for the communities we serve. These programs will likely stick around and serve to enhance our business in the future.