Running multiple restaurants is hard work. There’s a unique set of challenges that comes along with delivering personalized hospitality across different locations and concepts, each with unique personalities of their own. To do it well requires an organized management team, expert-level staff training and development, and a clearly communicated vision that permeates company culture. That’s why we’ve developed new features for GuestCenter, OpenTable’s flagship hospitality platform, to make it seamless for operators to manage multiple restaurants within a group.
GuestCenter for Groups provides restaurateurs one centralized platform for an entire business. Operators can control users and access, making sure the right people have the tools they need; get consolidated reservation and guest data across locations; share guest data between locations, to optimize service; and see key performance trends with easy reporting tools.
These enhancements will save you time, illuminate performance trends and fluctuations, and help you deliver better hospitality to every guest who steps inside one of your restaurants.
We talked to two top groups – Denver-based TAG Restaurant Group and Earls, with locations in the U.S. and Canada – to learn how they approach growth, take on challenges, and strive to perfect operations. Read on for three key ways to optimize group management, plus the GuestCenter tools that will help them along the way.
Control users and access at scale.
Restaurant management can be organized in countless ways. At TAG – the brainchild of Chef Troy A. Guard – there are three Directors of Operations, each overseeing a different segment of the business. (One manages the fine-dining concepts, while the others guide the more casual restaurants, some which have multiple locations.) All sit in an office together, and communication between management is critical to the company’s success.
“As a company, we’ve grown so fast in the last five years,” says Sam Haupt, Director of Operations for TAG Burger Bar, Bubu, and FnG. “We’re still very young. As directors, we all talk together, and we try to get all the GMs together. We have quarterly meetings with every single manager.”
Earls, a pioneer in casual fine dining, has 70 locations across the United States and Canada, and management is broken out into 10 different regions. On a corporate level, there’s a whole team of Vice Presidents, regional directors, and regional chefs. Even with multiple offices and time zones, however, there’s plenty of communication that needs to happen between teams.
“All are very involved with each other – there’s a lot of movement that goes on within management between the locations,” says Kristina Melnyk, an IT specialist with the company.
With the myriad combinations of team structures and locations, making sure the right people have access to the right tools and information is essential to the success of the business. The new GuestCenter for Groups tools save operators time by:
- Providing a centralized view of every user in your restaurants and group
- Quickly giving users access to multiple restaurants.
- Allowing the ability to create, search, and edit users across a group
- Customizing access types to control who has access to different parts of GuestCenter
2. Share guest data between locations.
Guests at one restaurant within a group pose a huge growth opportunity for the group’s other restaurants. But first, you have to get them in the door, and next, you have to deliver an experience that’s on par with what they’ve grown to love about the other concept or location.
At TAG, the marketing department promotes all of the group’s restaurants within each individual restaurant, using table tents and posters. “We like to say that we’re an ohana group – if we send somebody from one restaurant to another, we know they’re going to be taken care of,” says Sam.
TAG uses GuestCenter for all of its restaurants – even the ones that don’t take reservations. When a guest walks into their fine-dining spots, such as TAG or Guard and Grace, servers add notes to a chit, which are later entered into the OpenTable system. At the more casual restaurants, they take guests’ phone numbers to add them to a waitlist.
When the phone number matches an existing profile, they can see if that person is a VIP or locker holder at Guard and Grace. “We know exactly who’s coming into the restaurants,” Sam says.
TAG prints reservation sheets before shifts so they can see who’s coming in, read the relevant guest notes, and know how best to take care of them. They’re also working on integrating OpenTable with their POS system so they can see check data, visit frequency, and more. “We’re really excited to geek out on all that,” says Sam. “How can we use this reporting and the marketing you have at your disposal to really hit it hard?”
When Earls expanded to the U.S. from Canada, where they were a household name, they had to build brand awareness. “We were the first of that kind in some of those East Coast markets, so it was tough to let people know who we were,” says Kristina. They used OpenTable to break into new markets where adoption was prevalent, like Chicago; today, their Chicago location does about a quarter of its total sales through OpenTable reservations. “It’s given us a ton of visibility – it’s definitely been a game changer for us.”
Both brands use social media, especially Instagram, to tell users about all of their locations. TAG has seen success working with influencers to drive new business. Earls uses the platform to promote all of its locations throughout North America, along with highlighting the locations on all of their menus.
Earls recently implemented the GuestCenter for Groups tools, and Kristina notes her top priorities to start measuring: visit frequency, menu and seating preferences, and reviews.
“It’s all important to us,” she says. “If they aren’t coming, how do we get them to come more? If they are coming a lot, why? Our menus are not the same across all of our restaurants. If they don’t have that specific pasta noted in OpenTable that Bob really likes, what could we offer him otherwise? It opens a whole world for us to really customize the guest experience.”
Sharing guest data is good for the guest experience and for your bottom line. GuestCenter now makes it easy to:
- Share guest information across some or all of your group.
- Track guest preferences, notes, and tags.
- See VIP status and relationships.
- Learn the entire history of a guest’s visits to restaurants within your group.
3. Identify key performance trends.
With multiple restaurants, you need fast, clear insight into the business, both as a whole and on the location level. That way, you know where to focus and allocate resources within the group.
Earls’ management team uses an internal reporting tool with sales, metrics, and data for all of the locations. “We use it as a ranking tool to rank locations on the different metrics and see where they fit company wide,” says Kristina. “It helps incentivize the staff.” They have integrated their scheduling platform into the system so they can see labor metrics and forecast.
TAG uses OpenTable reports for its fine dining concepts to compare their performance against what’s happening in the rest of Denver.
“With Burger Bar, we did more reservations there and increased sales over 6%, because we were getting butts in seats,” says Sam. “We do know that OpenTable spender is going to be spending more money, having more of a quality time. You could see that the walk-in or person that called spends about 20% less than a person who makes a reservation going through OpenTable.”
“One thing that I have been trying to drill into all the General Managers, and something that’s been getting a lot of attention, is the reports that are available in GuestCenter,” Kristina adds. “They are so much more robust than they were in Restaurant Center. We’re making sure that all the teams are aware of those reports, what they can do with those reports, how they can use them to change their capacity settings, and set them up for success with OpenTable itself.”
New GuestCenter reports for groups can help teams develop staff, allocate resources, and make critical business decisions. Use reports to:
- Quickly spot when a restaurant is off-trend.
- Compare fluctuations in covers, average spend, review ratings, and more.
Ready to manage your group from one centralized platform? Get started with GuestCenter for Groups here.