In 2008, the La Madeleine leadership team created a cross-functional committee to develop a strategy for growing its off-premise business. Simply, La Madeleine wanted to create more sales opportunities outside of the four walls of the cafe. In determining what focus areas would be critical to their success, it was realized that online ordering, local cafe marketing, and catering and delivery would play key roles.
In crafting its online ordering strategy, La Madeleine looked at research and case studies, and listened to peers in the industry, to identify the following project objectives:
- Achieve higher average checks
- Improving order accuracy
- Create a guest experience that is consistent with the brand
After a thorough review of vendors, La Madeleine began working with Exit41 in November 2009 as part of a multi-phase strategy that includes integrated online, mobile and phone-in ordering capabilities. Exit41 was chosen because they had all of the "checkbox" features/functions in an online ordering solution with the upside for future opportunities in off-premise ordering efforts. Additionally, Exit 41 proved to be just the right size company for La Madeleine's vendor selection profile; the company prefers to work with vendors that have the appropriate resources to address its needs, can maintain personal contact for support, and allow for the development of a good personal and professional relationship.
The first phase of La Madeleine's strategy called for the implementation of online ordering and call center services. Exit41 runs a boutique restaurant call center in its Andover, Mass headquarters that essentially acts as an extension to La Madeleine's cafes by taking all phone orders. The company worked very closely with Exit41 by sharing with them "all things La Madeleine" as the best associates from all over the company spent time in the call center during the early days of the roll out.
With the call center trained and ready, La Madeleine's cafes could focus on in-store guests; Exit41 could focus on ensuring a personalized experience for off-premise guests. That focus on the call-in guest would allow La Madeleine to see the same returns that they expected for online ordering: higher check averages, better guest experience and order accuracy.
But La Madeleine did not stop with just online ordering and call-in services. The company also released its own iPhone app in late September 2010 that allows customers to place pick-up orders, keep track of previous orders and more. The app has been downloaded 419 times as of November 5, 2010.
La Madeleine's IT team was of course concerned about the system integration and they knew operations did not want any double entry process. The Exit41 call center software and online ordering website, and La Madeleine's recently released iPhone were all smoothly integrated into the Micros 3700 POS. All operations had to do was make the food that magically appear on orders in the kitchen.
Phased approach, positive results
After 90 days of market testing and comparison against control groups, the positive trends encouraged La Madeleine to roll out a second market. Today, all sixty cafes are online and connected to the Exit41 call center, and can state the following results:
- Overall to-go sales have increased six percent
- After taking thousands of online and call center orders, average checks are 50-60 percent higher than the in-store company average to-go check
- In the initial pilot test, online and call center orders represented 11 percent of La Madeleine's off-premise business and in less than one year it has grown to 20 percent
- Overall positive feedback from guests and operations
La Madeleine expects to see its orders coming from the Web to continue to increase as the new iPhone application gets more and more downloads each day. Phone-in orders are increasing and the company hopes to see some great year over year results over the holiday season.
During the holidays, La Madeleine will roll out a group ordering feature which allows party organizers to send e-mail invitations for their friends to place their own orders for one large group. The company is also partnering with Exit 41 on a campaign to augment its traditional Holiday Feast packages with "Turkey Specialists" manning the phones in the call center ready to take orders for packaged dinners featuring oven roasted turkey, and new this year, baked ham.
Soon La Madeleine will be looking at Exit41's Facebook Application and implementing Facebook "Likes" on its online ordering site. A new effort for catering and delivery is also on the horizon with opportunities to augment that business with the company's Exit41 partnership. And lastly, the company is looking at the possibility of adding an iPad mobile kiosk to its family of ordering options. In the end it's all about making it easy and convenient to order from la Madeleine, anytime, anywhere.
Richard Hodges joined La Madeleine in 2002 as the director of learning has transitioned to several different roles within the company. From training, operation services, new bakery openings and now to information technology for the last two years, Richard's experience and success are the result of his years of experience as a restaurant operator.