What is in this article?:
- Buffalo Wild Wings to implement new pricing system
- Service, tech upgrades on the horizon
Casual-dining brand also plans service and technology upgrades for 2013
Service, tech upgrades on the horizon
The chain’s new service model, which relies more on teamwork among servers and features a “guest experience captain” who oversees the sports-watching aspects of a guest’s visit, is in place at 100 company-owned restaurants, Smith said.
“While we are confident this service strategy builds incremental sales, we did experience higher labor costs in the fourth quarter,” she said. “We’re continuing to refine this model to make it scalable before we proceed with a systemwide rollout.”
Refinements principally involve tweaking the number of hours employees work as the locations adopt the new service model, some interactive gaming and a permanent promotion like the Blazin’ Challenge, where a guest can attempt to eat 12 wings covered in Blazin’ sauce in six minutes.
Another investment made throughout 2012 that inched labor costs up because of training was a rollout of a new point-of-sale system to all company-owned stores. However, Twinem said it should pay dividends in the future not only for its back-office reporting for regional managers but also for its eventual guest-facing qualities.
“It was key to get that infrastructure in place so we can integrate online ordering, so that we can use tableside ordering, either by the guest or by our servers, get tableside pay, and start using tablets in a way that we can incorporate both ordering and gaming together,” Twinem said.
Smith also said Buffalo Wild Wings would be open to making small investments in one or several outside restaurant companies as a way to acquire another growth vehicle for corporate employees and franchisees, but she reiterated that Buffalo Wild Wings would not be interested in a turnaround situation or a medium-size chain.
“We think we can invest in several different emerging brands and hopefully look for passionate founders that are interested in growing their brand,” she said. “But [we require] that it works within the guardrails of being franchise-able, [having] the ability to grow nationwide and being in segments that are not quick service and not fine dining.”
At the end of the fourth quarter, Buffalo Wild Wings operated 381 restaurants and franchised another 510 locations in 49 states and Canada.
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