- Toast POS
- Online Ordering
- Email Marketing
- Reporting and Analytics
- Kitchen Display System
The 1894 Lodge on Embracing Technology and Keeping the Customer Connection Strong
The 1894 Lodge creates an enjoyable restaurant experience for locals with a reliable ordering system, fast service, and a rewards program that incentivizes customer loyalty. And through COVID-19, they've kept the customer connection strong with a great digital experience.
Since its founding, The 1894 Lodge has served as the local watering hole in New Washington, Indiana. But to the town’s 700 residents, it’s so much more than a restaurant. The team at The 1894 Lodge have ensured the restaurant’s success with their ability to foster lifelong customer relationships.
Read on to learn how they’ve worked with Toast to double their monthly sales, turn tables twice as fast, and keep customers engaged and coming back time and time again — even through the challenges of COVID-19.
Switching to Toast Doubled Monthly Sales
With the historic lodge’s legacy POS system, it was never guaranteed that the ticketing system would function properly, which left the staff feeling like they were flipping a coin each time they sent a ticket to the kitchen.
“Our old system was outdated and unreliable,” says GM Logan Hostettler. “We never knew if a ticket would actually print, so servers had to take time to run to the kitchen to assure that their order went through.”
The Lodge’s previous restaurant POS system sometimes left tickets to hang in limbo for up to 90 minutes. This hurt not only efficiency, but also the customer experience. After switching to Toast, the Lodge’s staff easily adjusted to the new system as they were able to effortlessly track orders and control ticket times.
“Switching to Toast has doubled our monthly sales," Logan says. "Faster turn times, and the reliability and accuracy of orders has really contributed to revenue. Everything is being accounted for, and I no longer have to worry about losing money from missing orders that were put in incorrectly."
Table Turns in Half the Time
1894 Lodge also implemented kitchen display screens to improve table turn times and improve communication throughout the restaurant. Servers are confident knowing that their tickets are sent directly to the KDS and managers can relax knowing they’re not losing money from untracked sides and modifications.
“I no longer have to worry about miscommunications between the front and back of house,” says Logan. “With Toast, I can watch the KDS to see orders going through and being fulfilled in real time.”
Toast makes it easier for managers to track every order that comes into the kitchen. “We saw our ticket times go from over an hour and a half, to only 40 minutes. This has helped improve our table turn times by 50%," says Logan. "Everyone in our restaurant - from the servers to the guests - has benefited from Toast’s reliable system."
A Surge in Customer Loyalty
With Toast's integrated loyalty module, the 1894 Lodge has made their guest rewards program an integral part of their business. As a town staple, the Lodge has used loyalty to reward customers for repeat visits and keep them coming back time and time again.
“In a town of less than 1,000 people, we had 65 customers sign up within the first weekend of launching our rewards program. That’s 6% of the population!" Logan says. "Customers were so crazy to earn points that they were buying the entire bar a round so they can redeem the rewards. They love how the loyalty program offers a gamified restaurant experience.”
With the help of Toast's all-in-one system, the 1894 Lodge has taken their customer service to the next level. Their modern POS system has helped decrease table times by 50% and doubled monthly sales within the first year.
“Toast is helping us do big things," says Logan. "We’re expanding the restaurant and adding more staff and terminals. Toast’s ease of use and seamless rewards program is what helps us drive success.”
Toast’s ease of use and seamless rewards program is what helps us drive success.
Staying Connected Through COVID-19
But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in full force, Logan and his team understood that the foundation they had laid with its customers could be their saving grace.
“We had to figure out a way to be relevant within the first 48 hours. And it worked,” says Logan.
How’d they do it? A compelling digital experience and a deep, personal relationship with customers. Creating a community, whether that be among in-person regulars or fans-from-home, is a powerful force in profit sustainability.
Getting it right requires not only consistency, but an understanding of customer preferences and the digital channels they use. Newsletters, social media updates, email marketing – there are a number of tools at your disposal to keep customers engaged and interested. In fact, these can be particularly useful when necessity calls for changing your entire business model on a dime.
Hostettler has a four-step process to capture the power of strong digital experiences to maintain restaurant momentum, regardless of disruption. He recommends:
1. Own your online ordering platform. If you haven’t already, it’s time to transition your customers to your first-party online ordering platform. Third-party vendors offer ease and convenience, but these come at a cost. Between fees, losing the ability to capture valuable customer data, and giving up control over your brand’s look and feel, the costs of working with third-party delivery services are hard to ignore.
2. Maintain follow up with email. Through Toast Marketing, Logan set up an automated “welcome” email: welcoming guests to the 1894 Lodge family and offering them a 10 percent discount the next time they order online. The best part? This takes no extra work on his end. Once the campaign is set up, every time a new guest is added they automatically get the email.
3. Set up a loyalty program. The 1894 Lodge has made their guest rewards program an integral part of their business. As a town staple, the Lodge has used loyalty to keep customers coming back and reward them for repeat visits. Gamifying the restaurant experience gives customers greater incentive to return and engage.
4. Promote gift cards. At the beginning of the pandemic, restaurant gift cards essentially served as a micro loan for immediate cash flow – and you can count on that customer coming back again another time. 1894 Lodge promotes their gift cards front and center on their website to make it even easier for their guests to find both gift cards and online ordering.