Like many operators, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers is trying to find the right balance between investment in physical and digital technology. Freddy’s recently appointed COO Brian Wise sat down with NRN at the NAFEM (North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers) conference in Orlando to talk their investments in automation equipment and why data is crucial for both customers and employees.
“There’s both a physical and digital part of the technology,” Wise said. “We want to provide processes that free up our employees to provide that genuine hospitality we’re known for, we try to find parts of the job we can automate and assist the employee […] Data is also really important though, and employees use data every minute of their day when they're on shift.”
Though many people assume that customer personalization is the foremost way that operators use data, Wise emphasized how important it is for the employee experience as well to make their jobs easier and more efficient.
“For our management team, it’s about providing them information to look at each ordering channel and how we’re optimizing them,” Wise said. “[…]Nowadays, it’s not just information at the point of sale; it's information across lots of areas. We bring that together and deliver them information about each channel once a day, so they can optimize their operations for their team.”
Of course, much of the digital technology Freddy’s is investing in is customer-facing. In 2022, the company rolled out a new point of sales system, which in turn, led to a new customer loyalty program and mobile ordering platform, which was new for the Wichita, Kansas-based quick-service brand. This is all part of Freddy’s digital transformation that has allowed for more omnichannel capabilities for the brand.
“All of these elements coming together for our guests really produced a full Freddy’s experience,” Wise said. “You can order it online, we can have it delivered to you, or you can come and get it. […] “We have record number of loyalty members now in our system since the revamp, and the information that they're providing us about how we can continue to improve has really led directly to new limited time offering items that we're doing now.”
Wise emphasized the importance of melding the physical experience with the digital, which is what they will be trying to do as the new Freddy’s prototype rolls out next month, first across corporate stores.
“A dine-in guest that wants to come and spend 45 minutes in our lobby is really different than a mobile order guest experience,” he said. “Our new prototype allows us to treat those differently, but still have that middle piece that is the Freddy’s experience.”
The new store prototype will feature an easier ordering system, a new area for mobile order pickup, clearly marked areas for different omnichannel experiences, and room to add kiosks in the future.
These new store prototypes will be rolling out to the 60 store openings Freddy’s has planned for 2023, along with some non-traditional growth in the works into stadiums and on college campuses.
Contact Joanna at [email protected]