Case Study: Church’s Chicken of New Mexico

Leveraging digital menu board technology to increase sales, manage labor costs, and assist in employee training efforts.

When Carolyn Conner, a franchise owner for Church’s Chicken in New Mexico, noticed that sales at each of her four locations had stagnated, she knew it was a problem she needed to address quickly. Part of the problem, she believed, was that her employees struggled with upselling at the cash register despite the time and effort she poured into training them to do so.

She needed a business solution that could help her address this issue in a way that was economical and scalable for all four of her Church’s Chicken locations.

Background:

The restaurant industry was a vastly different place when Conner started working with Church’s Chicken in 1981. Without modern technology to help her, she relied on verbal descriptors to paint a picture of a delicious meal in her guests’ minds.

“Back in my day, the way that I operated in upselling was with a description,” Conner said. “Instead of simply asking if someone wanted to ‘add a biscuit,’ I’d ask them if they wanted to ‘add a honey butter biscuit.’”

While Conner herself might have been a natural at upselling with descriptive words, it was not a skill her newlytrained employees easily or quickly grasped. Because of that, upselling opportunities were missed and sales ultimately suffered.

Alternatives:

As Conner struggled with employee upselling and training problems, she considered alternate ways to promote sales in her restaurants. Perhaps better printed in-store signage featuring add-on menu items or formalized employee training programs would give ticket sales the bump they needed.

But these ideas didn’t add up to be a cost-effective solution to Conner’s needs, and they certainly weren’t original or innovative. Instead of investing more time and money into these exhausted and repetitive business methods, Conner sought to try something different—a fresh, modern approach.

Proposed Solution:

Conner first saw digital menu boards at another fast-casual restaurant and fell in love with them right away. They showed bright, stunning visuals that perfectly depicted the food offerings and created an extra level of excitement and enjoyment for the guests before they even ordered their meal. When corporate Church’s Chicken’s expressed interest in elevating the franchise brand through digital menu technology, Conner was immediately on board. With WAND’s digital menu solution, they all knew they had a system that was scalable to the Church’s Chicken brand, economical for all parties, and proven to increase sales.

Conner was eager to see how digital menu boards would impact her restaurant, employees, and guests so she promptly introduced them to her franchise location in Santa Fe, NM.

Results:

Increase in Overall Average Ticket Size:
After the switch, Conner noticed remarkable improvements immediately. “We went back over the years before [having digital menu boards], and we are up anywhere from $1 – $1.69 per transaction.” Conner went on to explain that the average ticket lift came despite the overall price points on combo meals going down over the years. “For us to be up on our transactions is pretty amazing, and I credit it to the visuals the guests are receiving when they walk in the door and look up at the menu board … that’ s the first place their eyes go!”

Better Menu and Pricing Control:
Conner loves that the digital menu boards have given her complete control of pricing and her menu. She has been able to easily adjust prices without needing to spend money on new static menus or waste time waiting for them to arrive. This has proved to be a significant benefit to Conner whose Santa Fe store is in a higher minimum wage market than her other stores. With dynamic pricing on digital menus, Conner can effectively offset the higher labor costs for that location. Menu updates used to be a long and tedious process for Conner.

With the WAND solution, she can now see changes to her menu almost instantly with either the click of a button or through a simple phone call to WAND.

Eases Training Process:
In addition to the boost in sales, Conner enjoyed immediate relief in training new cashiers. “The digital menu boards really take a lot of the work out of training … In the beginning, when you
have the cashiers up there, they don’t know [the whole menu] yet. The digital menu boards take that guesswork out.” Conner continues to teach employees to upsell, but the pressure of producing add-on sales falls squarely on the digital menus.

Improved Customer Experience:
The guests at Conner’s Santa Fe Church’s Chicken location have noticed the improvements as well and remark on how beautiful the menu imagery is. Customers also comment on how clear and easy-to-read the menu boards are, which is something Conner knows is especially helpful for her senior customers.

Improved Sales of Previous Under-performers:
Conner also noticed how particular highlighted items on the dig ital menus started flying off the shelf. “Before digital menu boards, we were only selling five to seven apple turnovers a day,” Conner explained. “Now we’re selling about 21-26 apple pies a day. That’s pretty amazing in my opinion. We went from ordering four cases per week of hot buttered corn, and now we’re ordering eight to ten cases per week. So that’s more than double!”

What’s Next:

Next, Conner plans to introduce digital menu boards in her other locations, because of the success at her Santa Fe restaurant. “I can’t wait to get them in Gallup, NM … [the residents] in Gallup order big bags of chicken, so our check average is higher, in the $16-17 range, so I’m really excited to see what they can do for us there!” The WAND solution not only helped Conner achieve her goals of increasing sales lift and improving employee training, but they did so in an easy, smart, and professional way.

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