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Lunchbox and Wing Shack
We sat down with Doug Baker, Director of Marketing at Wing Shack Wings, to chat through their successes in scaling the multi-unit restaurant in the digital space.
Hi, I'm Doug Baker, Director of Marketing for the Centennial Hospitality Group, which is the restaurant group and parent group of Wing Shack Wings. Wing Shack first opened in 2004 in a small little shack in Garden City, Colorado, which is a municipality of about 300 people, it was immediately successful. It was opened by a 20 year old entrepreneur and within a couple years he was able to get a second location out, fully self-financed.
Since 2006, when that second location has grown, we've organically grown to nine units. Seven different markets in the northern Colorado and southern Wyoming area. The original Wing Shack location opened in 2004 was a runaway success. It's difficult to scale, especially when you get beyond four to five restaurants from our perspective, because it becomes a resource struggle.
You don't know where to invest from an administrative standpoint, from a real estate standpoint from a tech stack standpoint because you're still working on such tight margins and overall it's been very good. We haven't had to rely heavily on outside capital to continue to grow our restaurant, and I think that's in large part due to the high standard we hold ourselves to from an operational standpoint.
I will never forget when Covid first came around how quickly we complete change of protocols for curbside pickup. Something we had never done before that we basically put into place across eight units in one week. And I think it speaks to if a company can move as one organism, as one single entity - all the things you can achieve if everybody's on the same page.
Around 2019, our whole leadership team was basically tired of our online ordering functionality. It was very template based, very cookie cutter, and its functionality was just limited in what we wanted to do and the goals that we had. So we began searching in late 2019, early 2020 when we stumbled upon a Lunchbox - and I was blown away.
I was very impressed after we did a couple calls about its scrappy, sort of upstart nature, which reminded me a lot of wing shack.
There's a certain energy that's contagious there. And so as we began to investigate Lunchbox as a company with great evidence of great clients. You know, Wings Over was a company that we modelled a lot of our online ordering menu off of. And ultimately it came down to the user experience Lunchbox was going to offer. The UX/UI is slick and affordable.
Lunchbox also provided an app and web order channels that we have complete ownership of. It's allowed us to really trace the customer journey in ways that we weren't able to with any other provider. We're really putting a heavy emphasis on our data.
We want to create an experience for you both in store and out. From an in store perspective, we can always be better at serving our guests. That includes doing better table checks, offering more interesting menu items, better limited time offers. From a digital perspective, which is key to our future growth, we have to keep innovating and engaging with our guests online.
Lunchbox's marketing suite gives us the ability to really have better conversations with our guests, whether that's through push notifications, text messages, sms, email, or social. It really does provide an omnichannel messaging ability that we have lacked up until now.
What we're able to do now is follow our customer journey from prospect to the very bottom of the funnel to purchase. Additionally with Lunchbox, we built out our first loyalty program. It's one that I think really rewards our guests who have kept our lights on, who have been with us through thick and thin as we were figuring out how to get more units open, how we were figuring out how to, you know, operate a brewery inside of a, of a restaurant who gave us that latitude to sort of play around, be creative, stay nimble.
We were able to build out a loyalty program that really gives them the recognition that they. Finally, the fact that we have such a beautiful UI, one that we can really be proud of, is something I can't speak enough of since I think the pandemic sped things up. From a digital perspective, if you have an online ordering experience that isn't clean and intuitive, it's similar to having a restaurant that's dirty - the bar has been set simply too high. Like if you don't invest in your digital experience, you will be left behind and, and your reputation will be damaged.