To delight millennial consumers with the latest trends, while hitting corporate demands to cut waste and maximize sales, Holler & Dash needed to be able to adapt its menus fast.
With digital menus from Menuat running on IBM® Cloudant®, Holler & Dash can update food, drinks and prices instantly across stores, the website and mobile devices, so its offerings never get stale.
HelpsHoller & Dash stay ahead of trends, serving up an exciting customer experience
USD 2,000and hours of work saved across two stores compared to updating printed menus
Drivesimpressive growth in market share and customer loyalty
Business challenge story
Whetting diners’ appetites
Winning market share in the fast-paced restaurant industry is no easy feat. To attract diners and retain their loyalty, you need to go way beyond simply cooking the best food. Nowadays, you also have to create the right dining environment, keep up with the latest trends, and serve up a moreish customer experience, too.
To reach out to the millennial market, Cracker Barrel – traditionally a leader in sit-down family dining – recently launched Holler & Dash, a start-up chain of Southern-inspired restaurants. Its growth ambitions are bold; the chain currently operates two restaurants, will grow to six locations within the next year, and plans to expand further after that. To achieve that level of success with the millennial crowd, Holler & Dash needs to focus more than ever on satisfying consumer appetites for the latest trends in ingredients, interiors and serving styles.
Michael Chissler, COO of Holler & Dash, begins: “We are a fast-casual dining concept, which is about providing top-quality food in an environment that makes customers feel at home. Fast-casual dining is currently the fastest growing segment in the industry, achieving double-digit sales growth over the past two years. Our target demographic is millennials, who demand healthy food that tastes great and is available how and when they want it.
“Millennial diners are keen to try new things and stay at the forefront of the freshest culinary trends. We knew that to win their loyalty, we would need to update our offerings regularly to cater to changing tastes. Additionally, since the fast-casual concept is so new, we knew that in the first few months we would need to change menus, offers and pricing frequently to find the perfect mix to attract customers.
“With traditional printed menu boards, making updates like these would be expensive and time-consuming. Instead, we set out in search of a more versatile option.”
Finding the recipe for successHoller & Dash decided to install electronic menu boards based on Menuat’s digital menu software, which is built on the IBM Cloudant database.
Jeff Charette, CEO of Menuat, explains: “IBM Cloudant provides the perfect foundation for our cutting-edge digital menu solution. Thanks to the Cloudant solution’s built-in real-time data synchronization capabilities, restaurant owners can update their menus with a few mouse-clicks, and the changes are automatically replicated across menus in-store, online and on consumers’ mobile devices. In addition, the platform allows restaurant managers at specific locations to apply changes exclusively in their individual stores.
“Cloudant is provided as a Database-as-a-Service offering, so we can hand off day-to-day management to IBM, and instead focus on innovation and customer service. The service we receive from IBM is excellent – we enjoy sky-high scalability and rock-solid reliability for an affordable fee.”
Michael Chissler adds: “We wanted a digital menu solution that would fit our brand. Menuat was able to provide us with a digital display that looks just like a chalkboard, so it looks right at home in our restaurants.
“Also, since online ordering accounts for 18-20 percent of our sales, we wanted a solution that would enable us to update menus both on our website and in-store simultaneously. Menuat was able to deliver, so we can offer accurate prices across all platforms at all times.”
Catering to changing tastes
With the Menuat solution running on IBM Cloudant, Holler & Dash can adapt its dishes, beverages and promotions on-the-fly, with minimal effort.
Michael Chissler remarks: “The restaurant industry is extremely fast-moving, with new trends emerging all the time. With Menuat, we can update our offering instantly, helping us stay ahead of the game and win popularity with millennial consumers.
“Menuat gives us the freedom to try new things. For example, at our Tuscaloosa store, we are trialing longer opening hours that extend into the evening. Evening diners represent a different market segment with different tastes – for example, these customers are more likely to order alcoholic beverages. With Menuat, we were able to redesign our menu to suit this new market segment quickly and efficiently.
“The Menuat solution helped us hit the ground running with our new business. We opened our first restaurant six months ago, with another one following three months later, and we are experimenting with food, drinks, promotions and prices to get our commercial recipe just right. With printed boards, making all of those changes would have required hours of manual work and cost us around USD 2,000 to date across the two stores. With Menuat, we have adapted rapidly and without incurring additional costs.”
Using the Menuat solution, Holler & Dash can rapidly design and launch bespoke menus for local events. For example, at its store in Tuscaloosa – a town with a major college football team – the company can use the menu boards to welcome the players, greet the fans, and offer themed drinks and dishes on game day.
The solution also paves the way to a vast array of options for innovative, responsive marketing.
“With Menuat, we’ll be able to make our marketing smarter and more relevant to consumers,” comments Michael Chissler. “For example, we could run automated campaigns – like offering a deal on cold brew coffee and iced tea whenever the temperature exceeds a certain point. These kinds of promotions appeal to consumers and stand to help us grow sales and market share.”
Holler & Dash operates an entirely paperless business, and the Menuat solution is a key enabler of this strategy. Digitization doesn’t just unlock huge efficiencies – it also generates a treasure trove of data ripe for analysis. For example, Holler & Dash can examine which foods and drinks sell best at certain times of day, which items sell best at each store, and optimize its inventory management and marketing strategy accordingly.
Michael Chissler adds: “We can tailor the products we market according to business needs. For example, if a restaurant manager has products that need to be sold before the restaurant closes for the day, they can feature that product on the board and offer a discount, lifting sales and reducing waste.
“Here at Holler & Dash, one of our key selling points is that the foods we serve are artisan, fresh, organic and locally sourced wherever possible. We spend a lot of time building close relationships with our suppliers so that our customers can enjoy delicious food. To promote the local artisans, we can feature them on our menu boards and tell our customers the story behind the foods they are eating.”
Building on its success, Holler & Dash plans to work with Menuat to build a new mobile app. The new app will make it easier than ever for customers to order food and drinks on-the-go, post and share pictures of their food, and enjoy personalized promotions according to their individual preferences and purchasing history.
In future, Menuat plans to integrate its offering with social media. For example, Holler & Dash will be able to update its menus automatically to feature items that are currently trending on Twitter, or images that people are liking and sharing on Instagram. The idea is to engage customers in a two-way dialogue and to give them an engaging, unique restaurant environment.
Michael Chissler concludes: “It is a very exciting time for Holler & Dash. Menuat opens up a whole new world of opportunities to us, and we’re just scratching the surface of what it can offer. We look forward to seeing where the future will take us.”
Holler & Dash
Holler & Dash serves up traditional Southern cuisine with a modern twist to diners in and around Birmingham, Alabama. The chain currently operates two restaurants and is expanding fast.
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