STORES Magazine - September 2017 - 45
ENABLE AND ENHANCE
The company digs deep into data
to study why customers come back
or choose to go somewhere else;
Howard says it's currently working on
the consumer experience as it relates
"Fazoli's 3.0 involved a new menu
without artificial ingredients and
adding more ways for consumers to use
technology to place their orders. But
there's many more channels to explore,"
The next iteration - Fazoli's 4.0
- consists of a fully encompassed
technology platform for customers,
Howard says. "We want to make sure
we service the consumer the way they
want to be serviced - the way they
order and where they want to get the
product," he says.
"The old value equation of product,
service and environment over price
doesn't work today. There are so many
more elements to running a business, and
technology is going to be a major factor."
Recognizing that customers are looking
for a personal experience, Howard says
Fazoli's is using technology to enable and
enhance it. "If you come into the dining
room you will get a better experience
in terms of service, food quality and
design. The basic blocking and tackling of
running the restaurant is getting better."
Fazoli's provides service after the point
of sale: Basically, customers place their
order at the counter, and the restaurant
does everything else.
have to evolve
the brand or
you'll be left
- Carl Howard, Fazoli's
"We bring bread
sticks, drink refills
and freshly grated
Parmesan cheese to
the tables. At our price
point no one does
what we do, and that's
one of the reasons
we're successful. We're a premium QSR
brand and that's based on the five key
consumer groups that make up over 85
percent of our guests," Howard says.
"These five consumer groups use us for
different reasons. But generally they come
to Fazoli's for a better than average fastfood experience with food quality right
on par with casual dining competitors like
Olive Garden, but $5 per head cheaper."
Fazoli's is also paying attention to
supermarkets' expansion into prepared
"Chains like Sheetz, Wawa, Wegmans
and Whole Foods have been doing this for
decades," Howard says, but adds that it's
not the main challenge for the restaurant
industry right now.
"It's more the fact that we had a very
strong U.S. dollar, good crops and an
excellent growing season. Supermarkets
got very aggressive with price. Every time
you're in a cycle where supermarkets are
dropping their baseline costs 10 percent
and sometimes 20 percent below a year
ago, supermarkets take business from
restaurants. Right now we're still at
50/50, with consumers spending half their
dollars at grocery and half in some type
of restaurant," he says.
"Then you see the major restaurant
chains getting really aggressive with
new offers. The last time we experienced
this was when restaurants created
the 'dollar menu.' Now we're seeing
the value bundles, and that's to make
sure they don't lose too much share to
The process of removing artificial
ingredients has been an ongoing process.
As part of its "Naturally Italian"
initiative, Fazoli's worked with about 50
suppliers to guarantee that 81 artificial
ingredients, colors and preservatives were
eliminated from its food menu. Howard
says the company plans to promote the
initiative through social media.
"We've been doing it for 14 months and
we finally removed everything from our
supply chain," he says. "This has had no
negative impact on our menu development
and creativity. Our suppliers know what
we need as we create new dishes, and not
using artificial ingredients has become
part of our DNA."
Len Lewis is a veteran journalist and author
covering the retail industry in the U.S., Canada,
Europe and South America.
STORES September 2017 45