What began with two pizza restaurants in 1982 has grown into the one of the largest multi-unit restaurant franchisees in the United States. Today, The Saxton Group operates 80+ McAlister’s Deli locations across Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.
With guest satisfaction always being top of mind, The Saxton Group is built on putting people at the heart of everything they do, which begins by creating great experiences for their guests and team members. With 80+ McAlister Deli restaurants, The Saxton Group’s desire to understand their guests was heightened when COVID-19 dramatically changed the way restaurants operated.
The Saxton Group uses the Birdeye platform to help the company gather real-time guest insights, allowing them to quickly pivot when necessary and make decisions to better serve their guests. Implementing Birdeye has led to an increase in reviews, star rating, and ticket closures, which ultimately has led to more loyalty and increased foot traffic, even during COVID-19.
"In the weeks following Covid, we saw an immediate 60% decline in sales. By quickly making changes and understanding what our guests wanted, we are now seeing a 10% same-store sales growth, which has helped us to weather the pandemic. Leveraging our guest experiences has helped us to grow, even during very difficult times."
Since implementing Birdeye in June 2018, The Saxton Group has increased its reviews from an average of 406 a month to 1,425 a month. Their star rating average has also increased from 4.2 to 4.3, putting them above the average rating for restaurants, and helping them to be an obvious choice for diners.
In 2020, Saxton Group saw the following benefits from Birdeye:
The Saxton Group has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing changes based on guests’ expectations and experiences. These changes have saved time and allowed their teams to focus on their number one priority: their guests. In 2017, they experimented with “on the go pickup shelves” and had shelves in every store by 2018. They also began using delivery services, which made it easy for them to adjust quickly to changes in the way guests patronized their delis during the pandemic. They’ve also added pick-up windows that function like a drive-through, with order-ahead capabilities available via their mobile app.
Hearing and seeing review trends from customers allows the team to make operational decisions before issues can affect sales. One example of the team’s ability to quickly pivot based on customer feedback, and thereby save revenue, occurred when the price of dine-in kids’ meals had been increased from $0.99 to $1.99. The team started seeing negative feedback from guests in the Birdeye platform well before it showed in their sales data. The team realized by increasing the price of the dine-in kids’ meals by $1, they were ultimately losing the adult entrée purchase of $10 that was often purchased alongside the $0.99 kids’ meal. Based on the feedback, they reverted back to the 99-cent kid meals, and began seeing the sales return. Having quick data and insights allowed data-driven decisions and less long-term revenue loss.
"Birdeye allows us to be strategic, saves us time and improves our hospitality efforts, allowing us to keep all of our attention on the guest experience, not on the technology."
The Saxton team focuses both on gaining new customers and keeping their current customers loyal. Using Birdeye, the team has established a strong operational structure that allows them to quickly see and resolve any guest complaints. Teams use Birdeye to monitor guest feedback from each location. Every location receives notifications for all their own reviews, while the operational and corporate teams have access and alerts to all locations’ reviews.
In addition, any negative feedback is routed to General Managers, Regional Directors, the Chief Operating Officer and the marketing team. Having this level of visibility allows the leadership team to dive deeper into data and trends across the locations. Any time a customer interacts with the brand, The Saxton Group gains valuable data. This information helps them better define and understand their guests, and has allowed them to leverage this data for an even better customer experience and to increase revenues.