Vita Mojo’s Commercial Director Nick Liddle sat down with Rosie Hill, Head of Ecommerce at GAIL’s Bakery, and Paul Baron, Founder of I am Doner for a lively chat about their brands’ digital journeys.
With craft bakery GAIL’s operating over 100 sites and premium kebab restaurant I am Doner in seven, it was hugely insightful to see how these very different operations have approached restaurant tech.
Read on for insights on:
- how to get board members on side with tech
- how to scale your operation without stress
- how to retain the human touch with digital
1. It’s fair to say that digital adoption has happened fairly late in the GAIL’s journey. Could you describe what's happened to date?
“The Pandemic is when we first adopted Deliveroo as a partner, which was a landmark moment.
18 months ago we launched Click and Collect with Vita Mojo, and moved our corporate catering and delivery over to their operating system as well. We also use their Delivery hub to go live with multiple delivery aggregators.
Today, we’ve got a long term omnichannel strategy. We’re really clear about the unique value add of any given channel for our customers. We’re starting to gather more data, and we also understand what our customers want and the role we can play for them.
We’ve had a few record weeks back to back, so it’s been a great start to the new financial year for us.”
2. What has the approach been to digital adoption for I am Doner?
“We wanted to launch a modern, well branded kebab shop, but as a chef anything that comes at me in terms of tech makes me think do we have to do this?. So I was dragged, kicking and screaming at first by my more educated business partners.
We took on Vita Mojo’s POS, Click and Collect and most recently the delivery aggregator hub, which has been absolutely revolutionary.
Before you would have to have somebody answering the phone, taking orders, processing Uber eats orders and processing just eat orders. Whereas now everything comes through the POS system onto our KDS screens in the kitchen.
It’s easily cut 10 hours of staff labour, and increased average ticket price by 30%.
So I’m a convert now.”
3. How have you worked with your stakeholders to get people aligned on what you're trying to achieve?
“We did a lot of engagement and education with our board because whilst everyone was aligned that digital was a source of growth, they were struggling to understand how that could fit our brand’s values in a way that felt authentic and true.
GAIL’s craft is all about slow care, human attention and so there was a preconception that digital was the opposite of that. So we spent a lot of time with our board to show them the ways that technology can solve problems for our teams and our customers.”
4. What happened when you installed kiosks? What was the benefit for the business?
“Labour was the big one. Managing the front of house of any takeaway business is a skill in itself; initially I was thinking we can’t swap all that intense stress and just put an iPad in front of the shop and everybody’s going to queue up and use it.
But yes, that’s what happened.
If anything is adding to the customer journey as it’s giving people the opportunity to customise everything to a T, so it helps us operate with less people and improve the customer experience.”
5. How have you managed to increase throughput without overloading the kitchen?
“Obviously one of the benefits of kiosks is you can take more orders, but that’s only a good thing if you can actually make the food. Introducing the digital front freed up a lot of labour to concentrate more on producing the increased orders.
Being a handcrafted kebab shop, things get busy! When people are answering the telephones and processing the delivery orders and the JustEat orders it produces a lot of stress.
Taking that entire part out of the equation and allowing 95% of staff to concentrate on guaranteeing quality within the kitchen was a massive part of what’s got us to where we’re at today.“
6. What advice do you have for introducing new channels and retaining a sense of service within your shops?
“It’s about knowing the tech is there to enable your people to be people. What you’re trying to do is streamline all of your order processes, streamline your stock management, make sure that you’re freeing up people to have that genuine human connection.”
7. What have you learned along the way in terms of persuading teams to really adopt the technology, to be an enabler rather than potentially a blocker?
“Listening is the key. We had a history of launching products and then going job done, aren’t we great? instead of going back to check in on the progress. What’s the adoption been? What are the blockers? Is it education?
We’ve all had the same experience of high turnover of staff. So it’s not enough to train people once and think it’s up and running. You have to have this monthly refresher where you’re constantly bringing everyone on that same journey.”
8. Is tech an integral part of the package when it comes to franchising?
“Compared to any of our competitors, our staff percentage is a good three or four percent lower. And that’s because of the fully complete digital system. It’s very unique and customised to us.
Once you see the percentages and the money that they make there’s no arguing, particularly the increased average ticket cost and the saving on labour. Any business owner can’t argue with that.“
9. What advice can you give people who haven't started their digital transformation?
“Take some time up front to think about where you want to go in 3 to 5 years.
Because a lot of what we did in the early years, we picked partners that weren’t scalable or that quite aligned to the needs that we had even then, let alone needs as they change. So we tried to make sure that when it came to our digital partners, we picked people who were going to grow with us.
That’s something Vita Mojo were great at: building flexibility into the systems. We knew we could input into the road map and would end up with a product that we were going to be genuinely proud of and that would actually solve problems.”
Every operation has a different approach to digital. Book a chat with a restaurant tech expert below to discuss how it could look for yours.
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