The panel recording and transcript are below.
Question #1 (07:34): What drove you to incorporate feedback into your operations?
Jim Bitticks: Happy to jump on that one. I think that in an all-franchise organization like Dave’s and Blaze, that we use Tattle specifically to help guide franchisees and to help hold them accountable for the performance of their restaurants and how they’re running their locations. So the feedback is really like a window into how the restaurant is performing that allows us to kind of push on certain things.
Also, a lot of the feedback you get from Tattle is very actionable because it’s either related to a specific time, a specific person, or a specific area of focus in the restaurant. And so having that as a sort of meter, I guess that helps us put focus on one thing, make it better, and then the next thing kind of pops up.
And I think that’s just like old-style comment cards used to tell you, like, “oh, I got a problem on Thursday nights.” Tattle is that but in a digital era. So that was kind of our intent at Dave’s.
Jennifer Faren: Yeah. Katie, I’d say that for Hopdoddy, I think feedback is a part of our culture. So as much as we would want every day, every shift to be perfect, it’s humans providing a service and hospitality. And so we have an internal kind of mantra – best today, better tomorrow.
I’d say our teams are just wired for, “Okay, if we’re here today, how do we get to that next level and keep raising that bar?” So having a feedback mechanism that is super nimble was important to us, that we were able to hear from more of our guests than we might see on a few social comments.
Ryan Wilkinson: Yeah, I agree with Jennifer. Prior to Tattle, we were relying a lot more on inbound feedback that people would email to us. We were relying on social comments.
Our role is to be able to serve our guests in the best way that we can. And we know that we’re not always going to be perfect. So it’s always a challenge for us to understand not where the deficiencies are, but where the opportunities are. Because that’s just part of the game.
So being able to really understand what those are and then have kind of a playbook to address them. Tattle a must for us.
Question #2 (10:42): How do you know what feedback solution is best for your brand?
Jennifer Faren: Before Tattle, we were relying on inbound guest feedback or our Google or Yelp or Facebook reviews. And what we found is you a lot of times get the very highs and the very lows; the people that were really mad about something that went wrong and the people that were super excited about their experience.
So it was awesome feedback, and we still use that. But we were missing maybe sometimes that middle of the road where you get really good insights and there wasn’t really something wrong with my experience, but there are a few things that could have been better, that we know if we can keep working on those things, it will help build that loyalty better.
So it really helped us start to get more of a full picture of the story.
And then the second thing I would say is the social feedback that we would see sometimes is pretty unstructured.
So we might have one restaurant that had three comments and one that had 30. It wasn’t very consistent. So if we were going to make a change within the menu or the service model, it was hard to rely on that, to say, “All right, we’re getting a good enough picture –are our people liking the change we just made, are they not? How have things changed for this restaurant or this market over time?”
We like having a platform that gives a level set of feedback, in that we’re asking the same questions in all restaurants over time. And so you’re able to start drawing from those correlations to say, “Hey, we changed something here. Did things get better? Did they get worse?” And so that was really important too.
Ryan Wilkinson: Yes, for us too. Understanding a snapshot of the customer within the restaurant is super important to Primanti Bros. We have management teams that are compensated according to Tattle scores, with different ways in which they receive additional compensation.
For us, the transition from something like Yelp and Google and Facebook to Tattle is the way that we’re able to proactively inquire of our customers and kind of put that survey in a way that’s really easy for them to quickly get a hold of.
So those survey emails come through – they’re automatically triggered – and it doesn’t take that long for the customer to provide that feedback. So, getting that feedback tool in front of those middle-of-the-road consumers has been really helpful in understanding what’s actually happening.
Jim Bitticks: If I could just add on to that, I think that guest feedback is like an ecosystem – there’s more to it than just one solution or another.
Obviously Yelp and Google are out there and they help drive sales. Like, when was the last time you were in a city and you looked up something to eat and it was a 3.5 star rating and you said, “I’m going there” – probably never, you probably weed out all the 3.5 stars.
And so that’s going to exist. You’re going to have Yelp and Google out there. And we really thought of Tattle as maybe an early warning or early detection system, a way to intercept unhappy guests and resolve their issues really quickly. Because you get an immediate email or alert that you’ve got a completed Tattle survey, you can reach out to them within 30 minutes of their visit.
So it helps to kind of push them in the right direction and resolve the concern. I think we’ve seen an overall jump in our scores on Yelp and Google since we started using Tattle about two years ago. So that’s part of it.
And we also have mystery shops in our system, but mystery shops cost a lot of money. So if you do one a month or you do two a month, you’re probably tapped out on your resources there.
To Jennifer’s point a moment ago, you get limited amounts of feedback – either really super elated people or really upset people leave a message on Yelp or Google and then everybody in the middle, you’re just kind of like, “Must be okay, no news is good news.”
So by asking people to tell you how you’re doing, it really gives you the opportunity to see a lot of feedback. I’d say, on average, our restaurants get maybe 50 Tattle surveys a month. A little more, give or take.
So it’s really very instructive. You get to get a good picture of how your restaurant is doing, and the main areas that continue to pop up are usually the areas you hear about on Yelp or Google also. So that whole kind of picture as it fits together, it really allows you to ratchet up your Yelp and Google scores by having this other tool.
Ryan Wilkinson: Jim, we live in a world of incremental improvement, right? Those are the easiest things for us to act on, but they’re the hardest to uncover because they’re not the big outliers. It’s not like you just realized that something was totally wild on one side or the other. And I think Tattle has enabled us to identify those incremental opportunities and then put a plan together to go out and tackle them.
Jim Bitticks: Incrementality is really key, because I’ve got a group of franchisees that say I have a bunch of four star reviews. What would it take to make that four star be a five star? Like, what’s the difference?
And you try to glean that from the feedback that the guest leaves you. And I think that’s a really important point because it’s literally you don’t have to say, oh, how do I take a one star to a five star? That’s a good question, too, but what was missing between that guest giving you a five star review versus four star they were willing to give you? That makes sense. And you can kind of tackle it from that perspective, too.
The other part of that is when you do a mystery shop that’s against your internal standards and when you use outside survey type of data, that’s really a subjective approach, what a guest thinks about whatever, rather than, did they give you two napkins with your hamburger?
Question #3 (18:30): How do you have the time to implement another tool like Tattle?
Jim Bitticks: Well, it’s just built into the system, honestly. It’s just like turning on Google or Yelp. It’s super easy. The platform is very easy to flip on or flip off and the feedback really goes directly to the restaurant and the franchise owner.
We happen to have a person on our team that responds to all of our Yelp, Google and Tattle surveys. If it’s a five star Tattle review. We say, “Hey, thanks so much. If you don’t mind, leave us a Yelp or Google review.” And if it’s not a good Tattle review, we reach out and offer some type of fulfillment or bring them back in some way, apologize and see how we can win their business back.
But that’s really easy to do also from a restaurant by restaurant approach as well. Like a restaurant manager can do that directly. The platform is set up so that you can just send an email directly from the platform. If you’ve got other inputs, like you can include whatever fulfillment you’re offering, send them a code if that’s what you use. And so it’s actually fairly simple to implement. I don’t think it is a very heavy lift in terms of the Tattle stuff, for sure.
It’s a lot harder to reply on Yelp and Google, to be honest with you, because you have to reply individually and you have to DM the guest and then you have to check that. From a corporate standpoint, if we have 86 restaurants, you’d literally be checking 86 different DM boxes. So that’s not great.
Katie Feinberg (Moderator): That’s awesome. Jennifer, Ryan, do you guys want to step in on the bandwidth of conducting Tattle alongside your regular operations and marketing duties?
Jennifer Faren: Yeah. Katie, I appreciate the guests’ feedback so much and I think about how much work it is to acquire a new guest versus if we messed up. We want to own that and we want you to give us our chance.
And so I agree with Jim. I think the Tattle system is super easy. Our GM’s manage their own Tattle feedback as they come in and they’re in the system, they can respond. It’s set up to make it an easy part of their day and so they’ve really taken it to heart.
Why wouldn’t you want to prioritize this? I think guest feedback is key to your success.
Ryan Wilkinson: You have to do it. I think it’s interesting, too, because, Jim, you said that you have a corporate person who’s responding. Jennifer, you guys are doing it at the restaurant level. And so for us, we have our regional folks that are managing responses.
Now our individual managers have access to the Tattle and they’re seeing the dashboard and they’re kind of understanding where they are. But in terms of responding, that’s something that sort of bubbles up at this point to the regional folks. So it’s interesting that it’s not necessarily set in stone. You can sort of tackle it however you want, but yeah, you have to.
If you’re not interested in what’s really happening in the restaurant, then your priorities are misaligned.
Jim Bitticks: In the old days with comment cards, people fill it out with a little golf pencil and it would go in a box. And then, depending on the restaurant, depending on how focused you were and how many other issues you were having, you might open that box up once a week, maybe once a month, and you shuffle through them see there’s only a handful of them that are actual real feedback – but then that’s all being kind of collected, I guess, by the manager or whoever opens that box. District manager’s with Tattle, you have the dashboard that was just mentioned, but also there’s a daily email that kind of gives you your quick rundown of how you performed the previous day.
And to Jennifer’s point a minute ago, you get an alert in real time. You can actually coach in real time, like, “Hey, we got an issue.”
When people start blowing you up on a late Sunday evening that the restaurants are running poorly, you can tell that we’ve got an issue at whatever location. You can call the manager, you can call the franchise owner. There are ways to intervene.
I happen to also be a franchisee of Dave’s Hot Chicken. Really cool thing that our CEO opened up for some of us. And I can tell when my restaurant is understaffed or upside down based on the Tattle reviews that start popping up in my email. And I can call the GM, I can call the restaurant, I can do something.
I could run down there if I was so inclined and do something about it literally within 30 minutes of being made aware that I got problems.
Jennifer Faren: Yeah, Jim and to build on that – it’s funny, the old days of comment cards, right? Also the guest recovery piece – if you’re taking a few days, a week, or any longer to respond to unhappy guests, chances of being able to get that guest to give you another chance will dwindle.
But if you can talk to them the same day or the next day at the latest, that’s awesome. And chances are you probably will get them to be like,”All right, great. Yeah, I’ll give you another shot. I’ll come back in.”
Jim Bitticks: Yeah. And a lot of times people would not leave their name or any contact info. So you have the feedback that you can’t do about it. With Tattle, you get the email and you can email them – I mean, they could still ignore you if they want to, but at least you’ve reached out, you’ve made an effort and there’s something being done on your end of it.
Ryan Wilkinson: You just need to do more than what some of your competitors are doing right. And so many people ignore this kind of feedback and the consumer loves to hear it. The consumer understands that sometimes things go wrong and the act of being able to reach back out to them quickly to have that actionable list of things you can do in the restaurant to address where your opportunities are, I think both of those things go hand in hand at delivering a better experience for people.
Question #4 (25:02): What messaging (templated or personalized) do you find to be most effective when winning back guests?
Jim Bitticks: For us, we’re using a template email response, since I have the person that’s doing it from above restaurant, but a lot of our franchisees are also responding and theirs is a little bit more personalized. So I think it’s not a one-size-fits-all – it kind of varies based on how you’re doing it. We’ve because the template is customizable, we’ve written it in a voice that’s very on brand and so maybe I’m sure that people can tell that we’re sending it from an account, but it isn’t as dry as maybe some other types of form messages you might get.
Jennifer Faren: Yeah, to build on that. We have templates in the Tattle system for our teams to start from, but most of them are customizing and trying to make the guests feel heard and like, “Hey, we’re hearing your feedback and are going to do something with that feedback.” So they’ll take the time to change it up a little bit.
What’s the most surprising thing about implementing Title after using us only for a couple of months now?
Ryan Wilkinson: For us, we went through the sales pitch and I mean – you even mentioned it at the beginning of this call — like, “Hey, we have 94% completion on 55 questions. And it was like, no you don’t. That’s just not true. And who’s going to answer that many questions and why would they answer them?
And everything else that we read or understand is like, “Hey, you got to get in, get a quick NPS score from two questions, and then get out. Anything more than that, you’re being selfish.”
But I think what we found in the Tattle system was that the way that those questions are structured, you actually are asking way more questions than it feels like you’re asking because it’s sort of a question and some subsets underneath it, right? So you get to the root of the problem or the opportunity very quickly– and you do it in a way that truly is pretty easy for the customer to answer.
And so that feedback volume, no joke, was right. I don’t think our surveys that we have built are quite 55 questions, but they’re way more than we would have started with. And I think as we were getting onboarded, our team said like, “No, go broad or go big and ask a lot of questions and see what happens.” We did. And our completion rate has been right on target with what you guys thought it would be.
And the sheer number of respondents that we’re getting is wild. It’s a flow that is providing very detailed and actionable insight into our restaurants, and it’s happening at a rate and with the volume that is like, it’s real. It’s not one offs.
And you can then find and uncover those trends. And then because of the way the system is built, obviously we’ve talked about this a lot, you can then go and address them. But I think we were all amazed that this is a viable survey and people actually are going to answer and respond.
Jim Bitticks: When we put Tattle on, we were doing eight mystery shops a month with our franchisees, and we turned Tattle on and we were getting 50 to 75 Tattle surveys a month. I think that was the most surprising thing.
And it was actually, before we launched it, I did kind of like a little study or a test of it and found that the Tattle score was within about a point of our mystery shopper average and the star rating was within a 10th of a point of what we were getting averaged between Google and Yelp here at Dave’s.
It’s really similar and, like I said, we get about 50 Tattles a month.
Also, what I always say about mystery shoppers is they’re like these invisible guardrails that kind of hold you to the standards, make restaurant kids stick to what they’re supposed to do.
Well, now you get, like, 50 mystery shoppers. Back then, it was like one or two a month at the most, and now you get ten a week or 15 a week through Tattle. And so everybody is a mystery shopper.
So the idea that I got to take care of every guest or I’ve got to do the right thing for every single person that I’m interacting with, I find that to be really powerful for keeping the operations tight, for keeping people sticking to the standards.
And so the volume is the most surprising thing. To Ryan’s point a minute ago, like, it’s a 55 question survey. It’s customizable, but however many questions there are, people finish it at, like, 90% plus rate. And so you really do end up with this many valuable insights into how your restaurant is running, and I think that’s the most surprising thing.
Ryan Wilkinson: John, one thing we didn’t think about prior to Tattle with the surveys is that having different surveys for different order modes is really helpful – because you don’t have to ask these sort of filter questions to get down into the weeds on a particular thing.
So the fact that Tattle knows that this was a delivery customer or an online customer or a dine in customer, it takes a few of those questions off the table and also enables us to get to build a survey that is actually relevant to their particular experience versus something that’s more generic.
So it wasn’t something we had considered as a readily doable as it turned out to be, and it’s been valuable for us.
Question #5 (33:15): Can you share an example of how incorporating feedback has impacted your operations positively?
Jennifer Faren: Yeah, I’m happy to jump in and start with that one, Katie. I think a few stories, but when we first started with Tattle, I think one of the things that surprised us is the amount of off premise feedback from the automated surveys that were going out.
After working at it, now we’re at a pretty good mix where it mirrors our mix of business of how much is within the restaurant and outside, as I’m sure across most businesses. But burgers and fries, hand-cut fries, are not really good for to-go. And so the demand from the consumer today of just having more of those convenient options and the growth in our off premise business – it’s a whole different animal.
And our menu and our restaurants weren’t originally set up for that business. So one of the key things we kept zeroing in on is there were a lot of opportunities, which is the first one we’ve got to work on.
Tattle helped us identify two key ones that come to mind. But curbside is a big opportunity. I think when COVID hit, we were figuring it out. We had cashier stations outside of our restaurant doors and we just kind of launched a curbside pretty much within a week or two there. So that worked.
And then Tattle gave us the opportunity to start to say, okay, are there better opportunities and what are the key things that the guests are telling us that are the most important?
Then the second one I can think of also in the to-go business that we’ve been and we’re still on the journey of working on is with our hand-cut fries. They’re really trying to zero in on what is the thing that disappoints if I’d say when they’re disappointed in the quality, what is the thing that disappoints the most?
And that’s been valuable feedback for our culinary teams.
Jim Bitticks: One of the stories from the Dave’s side of the Tattle feedback is around our pickup.
It was actually I joined Dave’s almost two and a half years ago, and we had a restaurant in Pacific Beach, California that was getting really negative feedback overall, but a lot of negative comments about the pickup process for the people who were ordering online and from third parties.
And everything was being run through, like online ordering and digital at the time. And that was, like, something that we shifted to within two weeks of COVID that we didn’t even have. We had zero digital before COVID – two weeks after COVID, we were at, like, 65% digital. It was, like, a really quick thing. And what we were able to do there is just to kind of parse the feedback and understand that the pickup process was super chaotic, super confusing.
We put a table out kind of at the door. You were supposed to pick up your food. We had a little banner made that said pick up orders. I mean, it’s really basic stuff, but when you understand from the feedback that it’s just really disorganized, the problem is people don’t want to look stupid, and they don’t want to wait in a line to ask, where am I supposed to wait in a line, if that makes sense?
So by kind of taking that feedback that was coming through in the surveys and then adapting whatever was being said into an actual solution of, like, we put a table, we put a banner, we put a guy out there to say, “Oh, yeah, come right over here. Oh, no. Your third party. Come over here.” And literally, within two weeks, their scores were a full point better because we fixed the problem area.
They’re great operators down there, great franchisee, great franchise ownership that they wanted to fix it. They just didn’t have the information to really hone in on what the true issue was. And so they were able to do that within, like I said, two weeks time based on the feedback.
The goal is, for me is obviously to take care of the guests, but so that you reflect it in other things like Yelp and Google. That’s how you get the sales, that’s how you make it profitable to pay for this product, which is not actually expensive either. But the idea that I take it, I use it to improve this and then over time my sales build because people want to come to a 4.2 or 4.5 star restaurant rather than a 3.5 star restaurant.
Ryan Wilkinson: One of the cool things that I’ve seen looking at how the operators are handling this is you’re looking at all these different restaurants and the Tattle feedback is coming in and Tattle is identifying like, here are your biggest opportunities, here are your objectives that you can focus on. There’s a thousand things, but focus on this today and for the next few weeks and it’s going to help your scores.
And so it’s been cool to see for our multi-unit operators to have something when they’re going into the restaurant and they’re talking to the managers, they kind of like they have something to focus on because it’s really easy to look around and be like, “Yes, you should be doing a better job with curbside. The signage needs to be updated and it’s a little bit out of date. The takeout packaging needs to be addressed, etc.”
When there’s too many things to focus on and there are a million things to focus on, then nothing is important.
It’s been great to see and to equip operators with a tool belt that when they’re going in and coaching up managers and working with managers.Tthey can say like, “Hey, here’s what we can focus on this week. It’s bite sized, let’s get this addressed.”
Tattle is going to help score and understand whether or not we’re making forward progress in that particular area. And then when the next month comes around, maybe we’re still focusing on that thing, but we know whether or not we improved or we remain sort of stagnant. And I think that’s been very cool to see, to kind of give our guys the ability to go in there and be even better prepared as they’re dealing with our managers.
Jim Bitticks: To add on to the platform features, I like on the dashboard that you get to see your scoring by daypart.
For the longest time, our dinner shift and our late night shift were the lowest scores, where you might have been a 4.2 at lunch and a 4.1 in the afternoon, dinner was a 3.8 and late night was a 3.6. That allows some focus on these areas – and actually I think that’s pretty normal, at least in a fast casual or quick service type of restaurant that the dinner shift and the late night shift are going to have lower scores. But we’ve been able to move that up too, by putting more focus on that and being able to score it, being able to measure it. And that’s been a success story too, for us.
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