- Toast Digital Ordering Suite
- Toast POS
- Online Ordering
- Toast Takeout
- Toast Delivery Services™
- Email Marketing
- Reporting and Analytics
- Gift Cards
Building an Institution: Chicago Bagel Authority Achieves Consistency, Flexibility, and Data Fluency
CBA leverages an all-in-one system, including off-premise channels and customer data, to transform their business.
When most people reach their mid-twenties, they often feel the urge for a big change. Changing up their look, moving to a new city, applying for a new job. In 1998, at 26 years old, Greg Gibbs bought a deli.
"I was a philosophy major at Miami University of Ohio – a degree which is really good for starting a small business and not much else," Gibbs jokes fondly, now 48. "There was a local deli that was going out of business and figured it could be a good opportunity to pay the bills until I decided what I wanted to do with my life. Chicago Bagel Authority was my way of working through that period."
When Gibbs first opened his doors in 1998, he brought with him his experience slinging steamed sandwiches – steamwiches – during his college years at Oxford, Ohio’s Bagel & Deli.
"Bagel & Deli was your classic late-night college hang out," Gibbs explains. "The owner had brought the idea of the steamwich from his own college experience down in Knoxville, Tennessee. You see, even when bagels start to firm up by the end of the day, steaming them as a sandwich gives them a second life. It was a major part of the Oxford social scene."
Armed with that knowledge, a high population of Chicago-based Miami alumni, plus its own community of college students and families, the 26-year-old Gibbs saw an opportunity to bring his beloved university treat to a new audience. It wasn’t long before his unique style was embraced, opening up new opportunities for Gibbs to grow his business.
Taking the Next Step
"At first, everything was simply about paying the bills. The way I set my prices, my billing systems, my marketing – so long as I was breaking even, that was a win. There wasn’t really a cohesive strategy. While I certainly learned a lot about running a small business in the first few days, looking back I think that mindset held us back from expanding at a greater clip. Especially considering how much growth we’ve seen since partnering with Toast," said Gibbs.
A Toast customer for six years, Chicago Bagel Authority initially began its relationship as a means to improve its email marketing strategy. Gibbs was looking for a solution that could take a more data-driven approach to engaging customers and improving frequency of visits.
"Toast Marketing was the first time I actually realized segmentation was possible. In our old system, we could see open rates, but without the integration with our POS systems, it was really a shotgun approach without any meaningful personalization or targeting. Once we made the switch, I finally had the connective tissue between customer data and actual marketing activation."
Toast Marketing was the first time I actually realized segmentation was possible. In our old system, we could see open rates, but without the integration with our POS systems, it was really a shotgun approach without any meaningful personalization or targeting. Once we made the switch, I finally had the connective tissue between customer data and actual marketing activation.
The first evidence Gibbs saw of a unified, integrated system was when he launched their initial "Miss You" campaign. Marrying previous purchase data with their marketing systems, Gibbs was able to segment based on order history, length since last visit, and other personalized metrics. The first two weeks of the campaign brought in over 300 people and more than $1,600 in direct sales.
"I think part of it is finding the right partner at the right time. I had outgrown that 'just pay the bills' mindset and really wanted to build a lasting institution here in Chicago. We had a devout following, yes, but I needed a solution that could grow alongside my business and truly elevate the brand. Toast isn’t a partner that just helps me check the boxes, together we rethink what the boxes should even look like."
Expanding Beyond the Storefront
Gibbs opened the second location of Chicago Bagel Authority in 2011, but in his mind, his biggest opportunity lies outside of those physical walls.
"It’s all about online ordering. Personally, I think if there’s any disconnect between your in-person and online experience, that gap is going to be glaring for customers. They know your food, they love your brand, so it’s important that guests have the exact same experience regardless of how they engage with you. Toast has been tremendously helpful in making sure CBA is delivering that consistent experience."
In the last five years, Gibbs says, "People just order more, whether it’s for pickup or delivery, I think that it’s a part of everyone’s food life now." In fact, online ordering is growing 300% faster than dine-in traffic, and researchers predict that 50% of restaurants will have order-ahead options in the next three years.
Restaurants lose an average of 15 to 30% per month on third-party delivery providers, but restaurants are saving an average of $3,000+ per month in commissions by receiving orders directly through Toast rather than working with a third-party ordering platform. Toast Online Ordering lets guests order directly from you 100% commission-free.
Chicago Bagel Authority uses Toast’s Growth Package, one of several custom options for restaurants to find the unique solution that best meets their needs. The Growth Package is designed for restaurants like Chicago Bagel Authority that are bought into the value of off-premise channels and are looking for diverse, data-driven tactics for attracting and retaining guests.
The Growth Package includes POS, payment processing, Customer Care, Hardware, Online Ordering & Delivery, Toast Takeout, Gift Cards, Loyalty, and Marketing – all integrated in a single system to drive smarter insights and higher revenue.
The Toast Growth Package takes the data your business is generating every day and translates it into actionable insights and automated campaigns to build your fan base and keep guests coming back.
We were able to actually consider the effectiveness of loyalty programs in how we determined the price of a sandwich. We scaled the price based on how many customers we could forecast within the loyalty program. Together, we had rich insight into how the campaign was performing and which guests were coming back again and again to determine a dynamic price point – it’s a tremendous investment for our business.
"We were able to actually consider the effectiveness of loyalty programs in how we determined the price of a sandwich," explains Gibbs. "We scaled the price based on how many customers we could forecast within the loyalty program. Together, we had rich insight into how the campaign was performing and which guests were coming back again and again to determine a dynamic price point – it’s a tremendous investment for our business."
For example, imagine that, when a guest swipes their credit card, it’s not the end of a transaction but the beginning of your ability to entice them back with targeted offers. With access to their purchase history and Toast’s marketing tools, you can enroll that guest in automated emails that extend their special discounts, or prompt them to visit if you haven’t seen them in a while.
On average, Toast customers using the Growth Package have 49% higher gross revenue, and 58% higher check sizes, than restaurants without the full suite. Working together, the products in this package harness your revenue and customer data to create a cohesive experience for guests, bringing more customers in the door and driving higher check sizes.
"At the end of the day it comes down to the data and what we’re able to achieve because of it. All of these functions working together – it’s truly been amazing. It’s reached the point that when Toast launches new functionality, I’ll go out of my way to make it work in the restaurant because of the new data it provides," said Gibbs.
"Toast has made this a smarter business, plain and simple."