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Case study: How Five Guys implemented online ordering

3 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

How can online ordering change your business? How can you guarantee that implementation will run smoothly? What do you need to know before you get started? On Saturday afternoon at the NRA Show 2011, OLO Online Ordering CEO Noah Glass and Five Guys project manager Steven Teller enlightened a crowd of hamburger and smartphone fans with the do’s and don’ts of online ordering.

Allowing customers to place orders online is as revolutionary for the restaurant industry as the drive-thru was, said Glass. The Internet is the No. 1 tool that consumers use to decide where to eat. OLO is in the business of facilitating online ordering and making it easy for customers to place orders and pay online. Additionally, OLO operates an affiliate network that embeds online-ordering capabilities on sites and applications on which consumers are looking for food, such as Urbanspoon, Facebook and Google. This helps chains and independent restaurants spread their reach and add customers.

New customers are great, but there are even more reasons restaurants should be thinking about online ordering. The average online order is 25% larger than a phone order, largely because of a more relaxed ordering environment, Glass said. There are automated ways of upselling with suggestive selling, such as having a pop-up box that asks a customer, “Do you want fries with that?” One of OLO’s clients saw a fivefold increase in takeout customers. Another group reported an 8% increase in annual same-store sales. That was all the evidence Five Guys needed.

When Five Guys started thinking about online ordering, it wanted to make sure it stuck with its business model: built-to-order hamburgers, no new products or technology that might disrupt work flow and saving crew members time. The company went with Glass’ top 10 tips.

  1. Measure twice, cut once. Plan, plan and plan some more. You don’t want to roll out something that won’t work or that will have to be rolled back.
  2. Be systematic. A critical part of online ordering is to have it interface and integrate with in-store technology. Make sure the payment provider goes through the store so consumers’ credit card statements show, in this case, “Five Guys.”
  3. Stay on brand. Five Guys is based on simplicity, so it strove to keep things simple with this venture. No crazy games for Five Guys customers, but there is an image of the brand’s iconic brown paper bag, which gets greasier the more items you add to it, at checkout.
  4. Go 100% prepaid. Don’t offer cash payment in store. It doesn’t work.
  5. Tap your digital assets. Website (home page, store locator, menu), e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and Google. Maximize the assets you already have before spending on TV ads or larger-cost advertising.
  6. Track and Support. Monitor orders, and follow up with customers to see how you’re doing.
  7. Protect your customers. Make sure customers’ credit card details are not exposed.
  8. Win the Internet. Google, Facebook and more help customers make decisions, but you have to have an anchor on these sites to allow one-click access to your site. Points of interest such as Google Places should have your information with an “Order Now” option.
  9. Go big or go home. Roll out online ordering at all of your stores. Mandate the program for franchisees. The benefit to customers is that they don’t have to remember which store has it and which doesn’t.
  10. Take a thoughtful approach to mobile. Every customer on every phone should be able to take advantage of mobile ordering.

What tips would you add?