Using only the freshest ingredients along with signature sauces and crusts, award-winning Pieology Pizzeria offers hand-crafted, artisan-style custom pizzas in unlimited flavor combinations that are stone oven fired in less than three minutes and always at one affordable price.
With significant growth momentum, the company will have over 130 locations open and operating this year, and aims to expand to over 200 locations by the end of 2017. Pieology’s growth strategy, however, is less about sheer numbers and more about selecting the right communities to serve. Pizza is the type of food that brings people together — and Pieology wants to build on that social connection with both customers and their growing franchisee base.
Since day one, Pieology has embraced new and upcoming technologies and the company has supported its Director of IT, Rich Long, on his mission to find a POS system that would enable rapid growth, ensure happy franchise owners and allow for more efficient practices system wide.
“The POS system is the heart of the restaurant technology world,” Long says. “Without a good POS system, everything becomes difficult, time-consuming or just doesn’t exist. A good POS system can help you and a bad POS system can crush you.”
Long was determined to find a solution to an internal problem that would 1) meet Pieology’s current and future requirements and 2) appease the major stakeholders with the selection.
“A rapidly growing restaurant franchise is like the Wild West for an operations team and menu items, discounts and pricing needs to be consistent for all locations while allowing the franchisees autonomy to make necessary changes,” Long says.
“Marketing wants a loyalty program and social media integration; accounting wants everything to be easily accessible and integrated into our existing financial systems; the development team wants growth and sales information; our HR department wants to know how they’re going to manage payroll and ensure that we’re adhering to state labor laws; and our customers want a convenient, seamless and positive dining and brand experience.”
Long has decades of experience in IT and set high expectations for a POS system. Above all, the system needed to be agile and easy to use. When the time came, the team decided on Toast, a cloud-based, all-in-one restaurant technology platform.
“Pieology customers expect and deserve a great customer experience,” said Long. “Honestly, we were unable to deliver an exceptional experience with an antiquated POS system.”
Contrary to legacy pizza POS systems, Toast’s cloud-based system allows operators like Long to run multi-location franchises on a single platform. Sales, labor and inventory data are available in real-time and easily accessible from anywhere.
“In order for a fast growing company like Pieology to compete in a crowded market dominated by nationally known restaurant giants, it’s imperative we harness the power of a cloud-based POS that enables the brand to function with the same efficiency as they do,” Long stated. “Once we showed our franchise partners how easy it was to navigate, manage and make changes on the new Toast system, they were on board with our recommendation.”
Long has also felt strongly about the type of tablet he’d trust with Pieology’s quickly expanding operation. Pieology was drawn to simple and future-forward tablet devices, which is exactly what Toast offers.
“In my personal experience, this platform is far more flexible and that weighed heavily on our choice of POS,” he admits. “During our testing phases, we found that franchisees preferred the Android platform since it doesn’t limit the control a restaurant operator can have over their system.”
While evaluating different POS systems, Long became frustrated with the amount of time and resources that were required to set up and maintain each system.
“Everything we wanted required a long statement of work, countless meetings, and frankly too much time. I am unable to dedicate three people to have weekly meetings about the POS, inventory and integrations. We needed something that could be knocked out in a weekend,” he says. “We found that with Toast.”
After a Friday meeting, the Toast team encouraged Long to try out Toast on his tablet at home and by Monday morning, he was sold.
“I downloaded Toast on Friday, and I had a POS system ordered on that following Monday,” he laughs. “I had to control my excitement when I returned to headquarters to report back to my bosses. I have a strong background in technology and can tell pretty quickly if a system is going to be a good fit. The truth is, Toast is exactly what I would build if I could build a POS system myself.”
Pieology is a values-driven organization committed to family, community and delicious food. They expect nothing less from their technology partners.
“When I met with the Toast management team,” Long says, “I learned pretty quickly about their values and vision for the future. They were open to my ideas and I got the impression that they wanted to win our business and keep it.”
Pieology is proud of its open and collaborative franchise partner relationship. The company works closely with franchisees to select technologies that are mutually beneficial and they have a stake in the final decision. Pieology’s franchisees weren’t entirely satisfied with the previous systems for various reasons, and though the process to find an ideal POS system was taxing, the company was up for the challenge.
As the technical point person for the entire franchise, Long appreciates that Toast is intuitive enough for him to be an authority on Pieology’s POS system. His growing expertise means he doesn’t always have to rely on (or pay for) someone else to answer questions from franchisees.
“I can talk intelligently about Toast because it’s easy, straightforward and logical. I couldn’t do that with any other POS system. I’m a Toast fanatic right now and I’m well on my way to becoming an expert,” Long says. “I can do the work of two or three IT technicians all by myself, so our hiring plan has changed dramatically.”
Toast puts Long in the driver’s seat, enabling Pieology to adopt a single, user-friendly system that he can control and support. Of course, when Toast Support is needed, they’re there.
“Our franchisees want to be able to pick up the phone and talk to a real person. The fact that they can call Toast and talk to a knowledgeable human is important,” he says. “If they leave a message, Toast calls them back — multiple times, if needed. That’s the sign of a good support team.”
With the Toast partnership, Pieology has found a system that feels just as “made-to-order” as its pizzas.
“Toast POS is flexible, agile and nimble. Today’s customers want speedy service, high-quality food and a seamless, enjoyable digital experience, and the Toast system gives us the ability to meet the increasingly high demands of customers who deserve more from their favorite restaurants,” Long says. “Pieology is a growing franchise, and Toast’s ability to scale and work for the growing group of franchisees was the right fit. If you’re a high-growth restaurant business looking for a system that’s flexible, easy to use and reliable, I recommend you go with Toast.”
Pieology is looking forward to growing along with Toast in this new phase of their partnership and the team is optimistic that this partnership will be rewarding and beneficial in the long run.