A Q&A with Cousins Subs IT Director Josh Thurmer About the Brand’s Ever-Evolving Technology Platform
Josh Thurmer discusses Cousins Subs recently introduced technology offerings and how they benefit customers and franchisees alike
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Cousins Subs has invested heavily in improving its consumer communication and technology suite to exceed guests’ expectations and provide new ways to engage with the brand. Over the last several years, Cousins Subs has introduced a handful of new offerings, including online and mobile ordering, third-party delivery, digital menu boards, a Cousins Subs app, a new point-of-sale (POS) system and Wi-Fi in all restaurants. 1851 Franchise Magazine staff chatted with Thurmer about Cousins Subs’ commitment to continual improvement by introducing and enhancing its information technology infrastructure. Here’s a glimpse of their engaging conversation.
What technology offerings have Cousins Subs recently introduced?
The foundation for each successful Cousins Subs operation starts with a standardized technology setup. All restaurants have the same network, including an ISP cellular backup and security setup, an innovative POS system, payment devices and back-office setup. This foundation allows us to easily support the restaurant and maintain an extremely high uptime to ensure our crew members can serve guests at a very high level.
Since we introduced a new POS system, we’ve streamlined our front-of-house operations by reducing the number of screen touches at the register. This reduction has created a more seamless ordering flow and minimized the amount of time it takes to enter an order. What’s more, it’s easier and faster to train employees on our new POS system. In addition to introducing the POS system, we implemented a back-of-house management system to allow us to collect real-time transactional data.
Cousins Subs is in the process of installing digital menu boards at all of our nearly 100 restaurants. Not only are they visually appealing, but our digital menu boards are also extremely intuitive and pull menu prices directly from our POS system via dynamic pricing.
At Cousins Subs we’re always innovating. Right now, we’re testing self-service kiosks with built-in facial recognition in two of our corporate restaurants in the Milwaukee area. The self-service kiosks are designed to collect customer data. After a guest initially uses the kiosk, it will remember his or her order history and recommend menu items to try based on their taste pallet. Through the test, we’re measuring customer satisfaction and reuse and overall sales. Right now, customers are satisfied with the offering and many repeatedly use the kiosk to order their next meal.
How has Cousins Subs’ new technology enhanced customer experience?
Simply put, our stores are more seamless than they’ve ever been. Not only does the new technology make our stores more modern in look and feel, but it also creates an engaging, personalized customer experience. From our digital menu boards to online ordering, sub lovers can order when and how they want and easily find the components – sandwiches and sides – to build their meal all in one spot.
How does this new technology position the brand for success?
At Cousins Subs, data drives decision making. Our technological suite is designed to collect the data we need to make key decisions to increase profit margins, improve the guest experience and enhance operational efficiencies. To ensure we’re able to do this 24-7, 365 days per year, Cousins Subs provides real-time troubleshooting and constantly communicates with franchisees and store general managers to address questions, feedback and (any) concerns.
We also engage our Cousins Subs system in operations. A key way we do so is by forming task forces and boards. An example is our newly founded POS Change Control Board, comprised of franchisees and members of our corporate training, IT, finance and operations teams. The board meets weekly to discuss the effectiveness of our POS system and opportunities to enhance it.
What are your future plans to further improve your technology?
As guest expectations continue to evolve in our industry and the world at large, we’re committed to meeting consumer demand by expanding our technology offerings. We believe in better through continual improvement in everything we do. Our IT department is never done innovating, we are constantly keeping a pulse on the business and the fast casual restaurant industry to anticipate future technology needs.
About Cousins Subs
Wisconsin-based Cousins Subs®, a family-owned, fast casual sub shop established in 1972 by Bill Specht and his cousin, is driven by the mission to Believe in Better – both in the quality of food it serves and in the communities it supports. Cousins Subs and its franchisees operate nearly 100 sub sandwich shops throughout Wisconsin and Illinois, providing guests with quality deli fresh and made to order grilled subs using only the freshest ingredients on its signature bread baked daily. For more information, visit cousinssubs.com. You can also find Cousins Subs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.