AI Driven Digital Menus – Best Served Smart

Listen or watch this episode if you are a restaurateur who values being data driven to drive growth during these difficult times.

Curious to see the next wave for keeping restaurants safe and profitable?

Podcast summary from the Best Served Podcast by Chef Jensen Cummings.

Jensen: What’s up everybody. Jensen Cummings here, thank as always for tuning in. Today we are Best Served Podcast 172. We’re talking AI, that’s Artificial Intelligence driven digital menus with Jerry Abiog of Standard Insights. Thank You Jerry for being on the show.

Jerry: Thanks Jensen for having me on.

Jensen: Best served smart – smart kitchens, technology, innovation, tools/equipment. All of the products and services that restaurants are going to need in the future – evolutions that are happening rapidly in this moment of the restaurant industry, restauarnt model. We’re talking to Jerry Abiog, co-founder and CMO of Standard Insights. They’re based in Fort Myers, FL – you’re coming to us from Atlanta. What is your company up to? What can people from the restauarnt industry expect from you?

Jerry: Standard Insights. We’re a start-up. Two years old. At our core, we’re an AI as a Service growth marketing platform. We help companies, across many verticals prioritize and execute data driven omni channel campaigns. Why is this important Jensen – well it helps you as a business owner or company target the right person, with the right product (or menu item)/service to help your business become competitive in an increasingly data driven world with marketing precision using Artifcial Intelligence.

Jensen: There’s going to be a struggle sometimes in the restaurant side because we’re so tactile. We create things with our hands. Covid has been a big struggle – we’re stripped away of the face to face interaction. That’s where we are. Operating this (shows phone) is outside of the expectations that we’ve had in this industry. We very much need to have butts in seats. This hear (shows phone) is inside your four walls. This is table touch – you have 36 tables in your restaurant, now you have potential for 2M+table touches. You have this device here and the ability to reach people. I want to make sure I set the tone, its not a choice if you’re going to be in this industry long term. Why should I be looking at Standard Insights and what you are doing with iOrder? Talk about what differentiates you and your work specific to the restaurant industry.

Jerry: Your absolutely right. Technology, whether its our software or someone else’s, its a must-have nowadays to survive. Forget about thriving, just surviving. Standard Insights, we started off with the eCommerce vertical and branched out. finance. Brick n mortar. Restaurants. We actually branched out to restaurants last year when one of our competitors was purchased by McDonald’s. So McDonald’s purchased one of our competitors to help with customer growth using Artificial Intelligence. WE developed this AI driven digital menu last year, but to be honest it fell flat. We were far ahead of what was going on. I took that platform to a buddy of mine, who now is a client of iOrder. This doesn’t make sense in today’s day and age – this was last summer, not that long ago. We talked to a couple of other restaurants -same feedback. We shelved it and started focusing on other verticals. Along comes Covid in March, shuts down the entire planet. We pulled it of the ‘garage’, tweaked it, re-branded it as its own entity – as iOrder.menu. Why? Because of Covid. The CDC is recommending that menus be either paper – you really can’t do much with paper or digital. So that’s where we are now – number one is to help restaurants, whether its dine-in, delivery, or curbside – having everyone feel safe and comfortable.

Jensen: Gotcha. I want to talk about two things – the UI and UX of it. What as a consumer am I going to do as to understand what the guest experience will be from having a contactless menu. Then I want to talk about what a restaurant has to do -what’s the backend with the admin and dashboard. What’s the onboarding process like? All that stuff – with the guest experience – what can I expect when I’m looking at my iorder.menu?

Jerry: When you walk into a restaurant, they’ll have promoted your restaurant.iorder.menu link or there’ll be a QR code at door or maybe the table. Right then and there, the customer scans and the menu appears on their phone. Mind you there a lot of companies going into the digital menu space -we’re one of them. Three things that make us different. If you go our website – iorder.menu, you’ll see at the top – ‘This Isn’t Your Father’s Digital Menu.’ That’s for three reasons. We go beyond just uploading you menu and slapping on a payment gateway – that’s not us. We go beyond that in 3 ways. Number one, we provide personalized recommendations. What’s Jensen’s favorite food and drink items and what’s Jerry’s favorite food and drink items. I like hot food and lite beer, you may like the opposite – heavier beers and mild food. That’s number one, personalized recommendations. Number two, data-driven, marketing outreach. Restaurants fell behind the curve with regards to marketing.

Jensen: Restaurants are horrible at marketing. When I was in a restaurant, we just – create good food and drink and have good hospitality. That was enough. Now, there’s so much competition, someone else is more dynamic than you. We suck at marketing. We absolutely need to market.

Jerry: I like what you said about being competitive. So we even take it a step-further with data driven marketing. We go beyond just sending a mass text or email that may or may not be relevant. So now, its based on data. Per my earlier elevator pitch, we’re using Artificial Intelligence with marketing precision. So we know what Jerry and Jensen like. The third piece of the puzzle that makes us different is predictive and prescriptive analytics. So we’re going beyond what happened in the past, going to what can happen. Now, when you are using predictive and prescriptive analytics, you are looking at improving operational efficiencies. What’s trending here and there. Those are the three things that make us different: Personalized recommendations, data driven marketing outreach, and number three – predictive and prescriptive analytics.

Jensen: One question – is it an app you need to download or is it web based?

Jerry: All web based. From our research, people have a lot of apps on their phone. Gosh, I have to download another app.

Jensen: I just had to erase 50 apps. I hear you one hundred percent. Now when you talk about trends, what’s happening in the future, how are you aggregating that information to deploy that for marketing for restaurants?

Jerry: Right now, everyone is starting from scratch. Ground zero if you will – opening & closing, opening again. It’s going to be a slow build. So if I go the restaurant up my street, they’ve just recently opened or they are only doing curbside or delivery, we get their information and aggregate it slowly. Today’s the first month, next month is the second.

Jensen: You’re talking about micro – you’re in the restaurant taking consumer guest information, all the transactions – you’re basically creating predictive information around what that person is going to order on an individual basis. Are you also looking at macro trends and then trying to give intel to your clients?

Jerry: This is just for your specified restaurant. So the restaurant up the street, say they do 1600 orders per month, give or take – its the behavior patterns of all 1600 people.

Jensen: What about marketing and the restaurant’s ability to take their menu, their story hosted within their specific channel within iOrder. How then are you helping them amplify that outside of their four walls?

Jerry: So once they leave the restaurant, you go to the back end of the platform, there’s a marketing outreach button. Within a few clicks, we’ll connect with email or text. Text is preferred with restaurants. Once you leave and however you set it up, whether bits once a week or every other week, or everyday depending on how big your restaurant is, within two clicks of your mouse, you can execute data driven, in this case text campaigns, on menu items that are relevant to Jensen specifically of Jerry specifically.

Jensen: Text is big right now. If you have the trust and confidence of a data base with text, email isn’t even in the conversation in comparison to text – I’m a big believer. Any other integrations? Messenger is a huge white space that restaurants need to be looking at – Instagram, Facebook. Any other integrations that are happening or in the works? Talk about that for a little bit.

Jerry: Yes. Yes. To your point, WhatsApp and then Facebook Messenger. Most of these apps nowadays are API friendly. If its API friendly, we can connect it together.

Jensen: I like that a lot. Its very, very important for restaurants. You mention the dashboard, on the backside. I’m an operator, looking to bring on your product. I love the elevator pitch. I love all of it. I’m into it. I know I need to be on technology or I’m going to be left in the dust. What’s the process? Talk about the on boarding process. This is where we go, I just don’t have time for this. I’m too busy – we just did 200 covers. I don’t have time for this – that’s an excuse we use a lot in restaurants. We are so go, go, go all the time. So talk about the process. I’m guessing you had to make sure that its very simple, streamlined.

Jerry: We’ll walk you through it. So either myself, or one of my team mates, we’ll walk you through it. We’ll upload the menu, making a few modifications and getting your bank info to take payments. We’ll do a few trial runs and then your off to the races.

Jensen: Bank payments. Daily payouts? What’s the process?

Jerry: We don’t touch your money. It goes directly, if you have you PayPal, Google Pay – that’s something we are a firm believer against – we don’t want to take your money and dole it out later. That’s not our job.

Jensen: Understood. Makes sense to me. You mentioned a couple clicks of the mouse, is it something that I can manage from this?

Jerry: Yes, your phone or iPad.

Jensen: Let’s talk about the next big potential for things to get lost in translation when it comes to restaurants. We are in the hospitality industry – we are so quick to respond to our customers, our guests needs. So getting put in a queue is troublesome for us. We struggle a little bit with time. We’re so into instant gratification – solve issues very quickly. Let’s put in a service ticket, have our developers or account manager take a look at this – it can then feel clumsy for us. Talk about the customer service side of the equation.

Jerry: So we’re there to help. Hold your hand. Just like with anything, I’m not going to sugarcoat – there’s going to be an adjustment period, whether its this thing – even on the customer end, coming into the restaurant and getting the regular menu. Now, it’s all shifting to ordering on your phone. So there’s going to be an adjustment, but we’re there to hold your hand every step of the way.

Jensen: I get it. I get how it works. When you’re talking to restaurants, one of the things that are very important is to rebuild. Its not the restaurants fault with what’s happening right now. Yet there’s still not a lot of trust and confidence with restaurants for one reason or another at large in the market – dine-in, and what’s happening with PPE and social distancing. All of those things are creating a bit of turmoil. We see that playing out. Restaurants now are adopting a multitude of processes as well as services and applications, technology to be able to build back that trust and confidence. Somebody gets on the app and the restaurant is using it, they’re pushing it out there. They are starting out with their email database – sending them an email, Facebook, social media. Reconnecting with their audience. Here’s all the ways that we’re going to keep you safe and give you the best possible experience – the ways its always have even though its done slightly differently. How then are you saying that restaurants need to be communicating to their audiences about this digital menu platform? What are things that you see the general consumer market being excited about – again building that confidence. What’s that conversation we need to have about what we’re doing that is going to help keep people safe?

Jerry: Just open and honest communication. The way at least the restaurants I’ve talked to in my neighborhood of downtown Atlanta is social media outreach. If your posting about your specials of the day whether its Facebook or Instagram, man just reassure them we’re in this together – we literally are – this is a global event that everyone is experiencing. We’re here together, we’re hear to help you out – here are some new things that we are implementing to make your customer – make you guys feel safe.

Jensen: Yeah, I think that’s important. The user, we’re downloading more apps, now we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to interact – is it a paper menu, am I using an app, is there a QR code – all of that, it can be a little clumsy, the adoption, are people getting use to it very, very quickly. Demos, the training you give staff to train their guests – give us a little of that, how the guests can get comfortable and savvy when utilizing iOrder.

Jerry: With the restaurants, will train the managers over Zoom or if they’re in my neighborhood, I’ll just drop on in. Its up for them to coach their customers on the new way of doing things. Whether that’s social media posts or they are coming into the restaurant – this is what we’re doing. It’s going to take a bit of adjustment, people getting used to it.

Jensen: Let’s talk about contracts, costs. Give us a little insight. I’m into it, I want to do it, all the facts. What can I expect?

Jerry: All the cost levels are on our site. Go to iorder.menu You’ll see the pricing. We’ve got all the way from the starter package that just gives you the personalized recommendations – and its a dollar per transaction. So if $30 is you average transaction, then we charge you charge you a dollar – that’s just the basic menu personalized recommendations. The next one up is $49 per month and .25 per transaction. That’s personalized menus. The third level, which is the most popular is $99 per month and .15 per transaction – includes data driven outreach. An our gold package if you will, is $199 per month and its .08 per transaction. Its price friendly for mo n pop restaurants.

Jensen: Got it. Depending on if you want to pay more for transaction and have less when it comes to not paying as much on the monthly. Give me an idea on the transactions, you threw out a random number – like 1600 per month. When and how does the math really make sense – when does it make sense to get into one or the other – I’m sure you guys have been studying the numbers – how many transactions will you be at this level or that level.

Jerry: So I let them pick. The 1600 is actually from one of our clients, the average number of orders they get per month. Typically people will start with the $49 a month at .25 per order. What’s we’re trending and seeing, 3,4,5 X once we get things rolling. Some restaurants may not have the customer traffic to warrant marketing. So start of with the $49. Sometimes there may be others apps in competition – so if you to the website or Google, there are four apps. Pick one. I recommend starting off with the lower end, and until they feel comfortable, and as we get more and more data, progress to the higher end ones.

Jensen: Is it a month to month contract?

Jerry: So we have a minimum of a 3 month contract, no equipment. waiving set up fees because of Covid.

Jensen: The integration with the delivery side. Makes sense for me on location, when your talking about curbside, interacting with one user and the restaurant. When you start to add on the 3rd party delivery apps, hwo does that integrate? What does that look like?

Jerry: We don’t as of yet integrate with 3rd party delivery apps. The mom n pop restaurants in my neighborhood, they’ll take care of their own delivery within a 2-3 mile radius. Outside of the 3 mile radius, the high cost food apps take care of that. I know lots of restaurants are trying to mitigate that- the usage of Uber and Grub Hub.

Jensen: What haven’t we touched on, we have a couple of minutes left. This has been really great, super informative. I think every restaurant has to be looking at this, as mentioned, there are a lot of apps in the market. Connecting us to humans is always the thing that’s important to us. I think now we know Jerry with iOrder. Take a look at the site. Got to have the context. What else do we not know about Standard Insights and iOrder?

Jerry: Just on a holistically and global level – we’ve all been suckered punch with this pandemic. Bu there’s a saying that Winston Churchill coined ‘Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste.’ Its up for restaurants to look within themselves on what can be done. Its not going to be easy, but those that look further beyond and adopt technologies will win going forward. I always give this example when I’m talking with people – during the Great Recession 2008 and 2009, there was a little unknown company called Netflix, that Blockbuster – we all rented our movies, went to Blockbuster, was on every corner. Blockbuster poo pooed Netflix – that they weren’t going to be anything. Look at what’s happening now. Fast forward here, 2020, with these technologies, its an arms race. All these tech companies that are coming to the market. Man, give me a call, schedule a demo on our website. Just see if this is right fro you. We’d be honored to have you on as a customer. Take a look. Explore the different technologies out there that can help your restaurant rise from the ashes of Covid.

Jensen: We’re all about acknowledgement on this show. Who came up with the idea of the AI driven digital menu?

Jerry: One of my fellow co-founders. He’s in Chennai, India. He cam up with this last summer. Really? Let me take it to a restaurant up the street who is now our client. He brushed me aside last summer. The morale of that story is a couple of things – You always have to look ahead. And sometimes when you look ahead, it may not be the right time. Covid came – what are you going to do? We pulled it out of the garage. I was in a restaurant virtual conference a few weeks back. We all know restaurants. They don’t like technology. All these ideas, the digitization for restaurants, there was a 3-4 year road map. Now with Covid, its a 3-4 month road map. So what are you going to do as a restaurant? There are over 660 thousand restaurants here, stateside. We’re either number one or two employer in the country. What re you going to do? It’s a big, big part of our cultural fabric. Economic fabric as well.

Jensen: I’m such a believer in that. We talk about it in almost every episode – that restaurants are fundamentally the pillars of both culture and commerce in community. We see the need for investing in restaurants more than ever. They are absolutely the lynch pins of any given community. I really appreciate that. Jerry, thank you so much for talking to us. I love the fact that we’re having these conversations because I think the adoption of technology is something long overdue for the industry. It pains me that its this that’s is bringing it to the forefront. From a lot of this strife is going to come opportunity, and those that are forward thinking and are adopting technology are in the forefront in leadership in this industry as we move forward. Jerry, thank you so much, Standard Insights -iOrder, check out the website. Give it a demo if nothing else. You need to start understanding what’s happening in the landscape – if Jerry and his team can help you out. And that’s what we’re here to do, introduce you to new people and new opportunities. So Jerry, thanks for being on the show.

Jerry: Thanks Jensen. Thanks for having me on.

Jensen: Best Served Smart – we’re talking so much about different technologies, tools, services – products that we need in the industry to evolve forward to innovate, to be able to make sure that we are in the forefront of what happens next in culture and commerce. Thank you to Jerry, this is Best Served podcast, #172, AI-Driven Digital Menus

Curious to see the next wave for keeping restaurants safe and profitable?

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