Give an Ovation: A Podcast For Restaurants

Your 18-Minute Consulting Call with Alan Magee

May 10, 2021 Ovation
Give an Ovation: A Podcast For Restaurants
Your 18-Minute Consulting Call with Alan Magee
Chapters
Give an Ovation: A Podcast For Restaurants
Your 18-Minute Consulting Call with Alan Magee
May 10, 2021
Ovation

Alan Magee is the VP of Digital Marketing and Technology at Church's Chicken, a national chicken chain. He is also one of the Brand Innovators 40 under 40 and has led brand marketing at Moe's Southwest Grill and InterContinental Hotels Group.
Alan developed the digital marketing channel at Church's and through some small tweaks increased their mobile conversions by 25%! Find out how he did it in this episode. Thanks Alan!

Show Notes Transcript

Alan Magee is the VP of Digital Marketing and Technology at Church's Chicken, a national chicken chain. He is also one of the Brand Innovators 40 under 40 and has led brand marketing at Moe's Southwest Grill and InterContinental Hotels Group.
Alan developed the digital marketing channel at Church's and through some small tweaks increased their mobile conversions by 25%! Find out how he did it in this episode. Thanks Alan!

Alan MaGee:

Do you think about guests experience? We talked about putting the guests at the center of everything right? But for that to be really effective, you've got to focus on your team members and you've got to instill in them training values, recognition, empathy, you've got to make sure that you your team is running top notch.

Zack Oates:

What's up Zack Oates here author, entrepreneur and customer relationship guru. Welcome to give innovation, growth strategies for restaurants and retailers, where we find industry leaders to share their secrets to grow your business. This podcast is sponsored by Ovation. The actionable guest feedback tool that works on or off premise and is easy, real time and actually drives revenue. Learn more at Ovation up.com Welcome to another edition of give an ovation. I am joined today by Alan McGee, who is the VP of digital marketing and technology at churches chicken. He's also one of brand innovators 40 under 40. His background includes marketing and leadership at Arby's, intercontinental hotels and Moe's Southwest grill. And if you are watching a clip of this on YouTube, you may be wondering if Alan has the age filter on for zoom and he does not he is just a good looking guy. Alan, thanks for joining us on given ovation, man,

Alan MaGee:

Zack, way to kinda way too many compliments that I kick this

Zack Oates:

podcast SOS. No. And there's only up to go from here. So first of all, what is the VP of digital marketing technology do like what what keeps you busy at churches, chicken,

Alan MaGee:

a little bit of everything. I came into churches about two and a half years ago, to really build out that digital marketing function. I like to say that's everything that a guest engages with on a screen. So whether it's web, mobile app, listings, content, social CRM, all those things, along with e commerce, how people can order our food and engage with us. So everything that's engaging with a guest digitally, from an experience and a marketing side. So it's a lot of things every day is a little bit different as we've gone through this transformation in the last couple years.

Zack Oates:

So what has been now did this role exist before Alan McGee? Or was Alan McGee brought in to like create this roll

Alan MaGee:

the ladder, it did not exist before. It was an area of the business that churches leadership team realized, hey, we've got some ketchup to do. And we need to build out this part of the part of the team. And so I was able to come in, build out the team, look at everything with a fresh set of eyes, processes, technology partners, agency strategies, all of that really, from day one. And really,

Zack Oates:

I say, level set and reset what our password was. And so basically, it's like any time that they did that a guest can digitally touch the brand. That's got your fingerprint on it.

Alan MaGee:

some level of my fingerprint or someone on my team.

Zack Oates:

Yeah, that's, that's really interesting, what has been starting high. And then I've got like, some specific questions, but starting high level, how do you feel that's helped churches?

Alan MaGee:

I think it's helped us a lot, we've been on a pretty good streak, the last two years of positive sales. And I'd say brand turnaround holistically. And the digital side has been one big half of it. The other side has been product and operations. But being able to make things more convenient, make experiences better for guests, give them information at their fingertips, that's going to convert them a lot faster, and giving them more ways to order our food, whether it's through delivery or order ahead, or a catering, also helping our restaurants to be more efficient at the restaurant helping save them time and energy through technology enhancements. So those are some of the big things that have been overarching as part of what we work on.

Zack Oates:

So let's say that you had a couple of minutes to do consulting with a brand. They're growing brand. They can't quite a Ford and Alan McGee yet but hey, they love this concept of building out a digital footprint lifecycle of their customers, right? And you've got five minutes to do consulting for them, like what what would you tell them? If they're looking to kind of accomplish, like, what frameworks would you think about with this? You know, I'm saying,

Alan MaGee:

Yeah, yeah, I'd say that, you know, there's two areas. One is demand generation. The other is demand capturing. And that's really where we started our journey is. One is there's a ton of people looking for food offers. Everyone's got to eat a couple times a day. And usually those decisions, there's thinking about those 10 to 15 minutes before they're making that decision. And there could be whether it's the restaurant on the right side of the street, you know, what am I craving all of that and so there actually looking for a ton of information. So one is looking at their their listings how what information is there when information is easily accessed easily accessible? If I was to go and search and try to find an answer to a question that may make me show up to a restaurants, that'd be one. And the second would be demand generation is one of those tactics and tools that you can go out there to keep the brand Top of Mind in consideration, whether it's in social media looking at what's your social presence, whether it's what's what are you doing in email? What are you doing in paid, I'd look at those two buckets holistically. And you can make a lot of a lot of forward progress with a couple small changes inside of each of those if you can, if you just identify two to three small things that you make updates to.

Zack Oates:

I love that. So it's the demand generation, let's get people thinking and seen. And it's a demand capture. Let's grab those people that are already looking and seeing right now with it with the demand capture. That's something where obviously, one of the things that innovation that we've seen is just like the how online reviews help in getting getting people seen, right. What are some other tips? What have you seen in terms of the demand capture with the local listings that has been successful for you guys?

Alan MaGee:

A couple things. So one is usually people are looking for specific information on your menu, right? So given a deep dive into the menu, really great pictures, descriptions, and also nutritionals. And making it easy for them. So many people have different dietary restrictions. Nowadays, I'm good I gluten free, or

Zack Oates:

pescatarian, or even just calorie counting. I will choose last night I went to a restaurant that wasn't my favorite restaurant. But I went there because I knew how many calories I had left in my day. And so I went there because it's like, I'll get something I don't love. And know that I'm hitting it as opposed to getting something I love. And just like I don't know, I don't know how many calories is is

Alan MaGee:

your 100%. Right, I did the same thing, looking at how many grams of protein are in this or carbs. And so being able to put that information, just front and center make it easy for someone to get to within one to two clicks. If you're having to have them search and unpack and try to find and after a couple minutes, they're gonna say it's not worth my time, I'm gonna go somewhere where that's easy. So menu is is a key one, you can win so many people over by great photography, storytelling and making information just really accessible for them.

Zack Oates:

Why don't more people do that? Do you think?

Alan MaGee:

It's a really good question. I think historically, when you look at the restaurant industry that was at the at the restaurant, right? So it's a great point. Yeah. If you would show up and they look at the the menu or the menu board, and they take some time and make a decision. Right? Or they're they roll the drive through say, What am I feeling like today is a sandwich? Is it tenders? Do I you know, what do I want? But now people are spending more time researching and putting more thought into where do I want to eat and how and I think that's a big part of would you say is like this new normal or pandemic where the meal occasion? It wasn't as much of a throwaway in some ways as it used to be. And it's a little more of a special occasion now.

Zack Oates:

Yeah, totally. I think I think that makes a lot of sense. And I think there's also a huge surge of just information that people pre 2020 maybe they didn't have to go and look for that. And now they do right. And so if they're looking, Y'all better be there.

Alan MaGee:

Exactly. Because Because if you are not the next restaurant in the list probably is. And they're gonna go down to that next one until I find an answer. And that's the one that's gonna win that visit. And then, and then it's probably going to win the next visit, right? Because if you don't answer that, if you don't answer the question the first time, they might not come back to you to look at that question a second time.

Zack Oates:

Yeah, totally. Now, one of the things that I've been hearing about is this 25% increase in mobile conversions. I'd love to hear what is this? Because I don't have all the details about it. I just heard that I'm supposed to be very impressed. And someone tells me a 25% increase in mobile conversions. And I'm intrigued. So what's what's going on with that, Alan?

Alan MaGee:

Yeah, so it was really interesting when I came with the churches, and we started digging into all of our web analytics data, and over 85% of our guests access the website, through their mobile phone, most of our guests, it's full mobile, not a lot of desktop, not a lot of tablet, right. So we're really kind of diving into, okay, this consumer behavior, they're on the go. They're a little bit younger, they're very, you know, tech savvy, what information are looking for, for sale when we relaunched our listings product, and we started, people were looking at directions, hours of operations, all these key things, but to get there, you still have to go through two to three clicks. To find that information. So what we did is we launched what we call a mobile welcome. So when you pull up on your mobile web, it pops up at the bottom, it says churches, Chicken 2.3 miles away, open hours of operation, Order, order here, click, what I did is we removed the four to five clicks and made it one to two, give the guests that information. Even if they never click on anything, they see it's open. Okay, I'm going to go to that restaurant, or, oh, there's another one that's maybe closer to me, or they have delivery. So it just was putting the information in front of them making it more convenient. And literally, within the first couple days, we started seeing our conversion, clicks and ordering just it just was a straight line up. And I wasn't expecting that I thought we might see five or 6%. But it just boosted and actually maintained.

Zack Oates:

Interesting. Yeah, because I'm on the the website right now. And it's just it, it's a different, a different feel. It's like it feels, and I think that the important thing is that it feels mobile. Right? What what hurts is when you get to a website, and they haven't done anything to make it a mobile website, and I think that the principle here is that, look at what your customers are doing, and adapt to that. Right? It drives me nuts, when you see people that are saying, well, all the customer has to do is this and this and this and this, it's like okay, well, now take take my grandma, right? Is she gonna know that? And guess what, she's got an iPhone, and she's looking up stuff she didn't a year and a half ago, but she has to now. And so it's just one of those things where it's like, make it easy, make it mobile friendly, and make it aligned with the guest expectations. Don't try to change the expectations of the guest. Right?

Alan MaGee:

Exactly. One of the things that, you know, bothers me the most is you go into a website, you click on you click on a restaurant, you put order now. And then it takes you to another site. And you've got to then say, oh, choose my restaurant. I'm like, Why did you make me choose my restaurant twice, like you're making me go through so much work to get this to get there. So a lot of what we talked about is how do we just make everything super easy and simple and convenient. And like you say, lean into what your guests are doing, how they're using it. Another example was, a lot of our guests use coupons. And we had the coupons hidden on the website, two or three pages back, we put them on the front page, and make it real easy for the guest to find those coupons. We have our coupon redemption remains about the same. But we get our number of guest comments around. I can't find the coupons went down to almost zero. So we're solving we're solving a need for that guest that he's the boss.

Zack Oates:

Yeah. And around that guest feedback. I feel like that's something too, that is often really challenging in today's environment, right? So how do you find that everything that you're talking about now is all about the guest experience? Right? It's, you haven't said one single thing about you know, the the ingredients or like the Operation Desert it because all of that is encompassed in the guest experience. And when you put that guest experience first, everything else falls in line, right? So how do you feel like the guest experience is how should people look at the guest experience in today's modern restaurant.

Alan MaGee:

So I take a little bit of a, of a hospitality point of view on this. And I'll take a step back, because I spent a number of years in the hotel industry. And when you think about guests experience, we talked about putting the guests at the center of everything, right. But for that to be really effective, you've got to focus on your team members, and you've got to instill in them training, values, recognition, empathy, you've got to make sure that you your team is running top notch. And if you focus on your immediate team members, then they're going to put the guests at the center. And I think too many times we think about, you know, how do we make the guest it's all about the guest, and we forget about the team members sometimes, but the team member is that is that super important link to giving that guests the best experiences possible. Technology, yes, enhances that and kind of skips over the team member. Sometimes you talk about ordering or finding information. But ultimately, they're still going to have some level of engagement with them. So you know, I think about as the guest is at the center, but the focus on your team, and and their experience, then helps elevate what the gaskets

Zack Oates:

Yeah, it's like, yeah, the customers, the guests is at the center, but the team is what keeps them there, right. And when the team starts to kind of fall apart, it's like this wall that gets broken down and then the customer no longer becomes a center because, but I love what you said because one of the things you know, I run a hospitality technology company, but the thing that I always tell people is you can't take humans out. hospitality. You can't, technology can be there to help augment it, but not replace it. Because at the end of the day, if you want to be a manufacturer of food, then sell to grocery stores, right? If you want to be a restaurant brand, then you have to have that hospitality. So I love that. Alan, what final piece of advice would you have to our listeners?

Alan MaGee:

As it comes to all things, digital marketing technology, my my biggest piece of advice is the same. We talk a lot about progress over perfection. And we don't spend a lot of time on getting getting things 100% perfect. But we focus on how do we make things incrementally better every single day, like we talked about, and the listings or the mobile experience and social media with community management, always trying to figure out what are those one to two things that we can get incrementally better solve those, find two or three more. And then when you look back at it, you go, Wow, we made some major progress. And it wasn't like one big thing. I like to talk in analogies and I say, you know, I like to hit a lot of singles and doubles, you score a lot of runs in baseball. And I'm not saying don't swing for the fences. But if you if you're getting men on base, you're gonna score and then eventually a pitch comes right down in the middle and you can swing for the fence. But if you're swinging for the fence, you're gonna you're you're gonna be losing a lot of time of trying to hit that that one perfect pitch. And so go for those singles and doubles. And it puts a lot of runs on the board.

Zack Oates:

Love though here are my takeaways. One, look at your customer digital lifecycle to make the experience better and easier. I loved your framework of demand generation and demand capturing number two, do a deep dive on your menu and nutritionals and make it really easy for people to find. I think that is a that's a great, really low hanging piece of actionable feedback, actionable advice. Number three, look at your customer web journey and make sure that it's mobile friendly. See how are they using it? What is the experience for put customers at the center by putting your team in top priority? And the number five progress over perfection? Look for those incremental wins, wins. You score with singles. I love that. Alan, how do people find you follow you?

Alan MaGee:

They can find me on LinkedIn. look me up, hit me up with a direct message always happy to collaborate with other folks in marketing or in the industry.

Zack Oates:

Awesome. Well, Alan for helping us get hope that there is somewhere out there a fountain of youth and for distilling us with some great frameworks and actionable items. Today's ovation goes to you. Thank you so much for joining us and given Ovation.

Alan MaGee:

Thanks so much.

Zack Oates:

Glad you're with us today. And thank you, thank you to the risk takers, the troublemakers, the crazies who are keeping this world clothed and fed. You're the ones who deserve an ovation. Again, this podcast was sponsored by ovation to see how we can help you grow your business go to Ovation Up calm. Don't forget to subscribe and as always, remember to give someone in your life an ovation today