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Operations

Presenting the Case for TVs

Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurants are faced with competitive challenges across multiple fronts. Retail foodservice, third-party delivery services and just-walk-out retailers like Amazon Go are threatening traditional restaurant visitation in the name of ease, convenience and speed of service. 

Disruptive channels may be shaking things up, but an opportunity exists for restaurants to emphasize a core advantage that only they can offer: a distinctive and entertaining dining experience. Restaurant operators know that television is key to promoting that experience; 35% recently told Technomic that television “creates a more fun and high-energy environment” for their guests. 

To understand a real operator perspective on the true impact of televisions on-site– and how restaurant customers can benefit from television entertainment–DIRECTV reached out to one of the industry’s top pizza chains, Domino’s, to gauge the voice of one of its regional franchisees. Keith Linkeman, Regional Director Team Illinois for Domino’s, oversees dozens of newly remodeled Domino’s locations in the Midwest. In this issue of DirecTrack, Linkeman makes the case for televisions as part of the franchise’s continued reinvention and growth. 

What motivates restaurant operators to invest in television entertainment in-store? What are the long-term rewards for restaurant companies that make the leap into TV packages? And how can TV help heighten guest and employee satisfaction? 

Our case study of a successful franchisor–coupled with exclusive data from Technomic–reveals some insightful findings. 

Enhancing the Guest Experience 

The year was 2012, and Domino’s, an industry leader already well-known for pioneering technology as an element of its service model, was reimagining its locations as more inviting, modern and even theatrical, with TVs as a core facet of its design. National news outlets reported on the shift: 

Domino’s eateries will begin to incorporate comfortable lobby areas as well as ordering kiosks and boards that track to-go orders electronically. Customers will be able to draw or leave feedback on chalk boards placed around the stores, which may also feature big-screen televisions. 

-Los Angeles Times, 2012

Fast forward six years, and Domino’s franchisees are still committed to the updated concept, and the role that TVs play. “The ‘Pizza Theater’ concept began about five or six years ago, not to necessarily push dine-in, but to offer a different twist on the dine-in visit,” said Linkeman. “A big piece of that puzzle was the addition of TVs in our stores.” 

As a limited-service franchise operation, these Domino’s stores compete head-on with fast-food players and other foodservice venues that underscore grab-and-go convenience. Televisions can help make the wait time enjoyable for guests. “It makes the time go by for customers,” said Linkeman. “Instead of watching the clock, they’re watching television and being entertained.” 

“It takes eight to 10 minutes to prepare a pizza from start to finish. But when a customer is standing there waiting, that eight to 10 minutes feels more like 18 to 20 minutes. We can improve customer morale, so to speak, by offering them a better experience while they’re in the restaurant; we’re finding that TVs are key to helping us provide that experience,” added Linkeman. 

What is your primary motivation for having TVs in customer-facing areas of your location(s)?

Why Programming Matters 

Programming choices may seem like a no-brainer. News and sports are conventional options that customers will likely expect to see, but there are myriad program offerings and programming variety is important. 

“In our stores, we gravitate toward news and sports, but we’re flexible,” said Linkeman. That flexibility is crucial to operators if they want to effectively tailor programming to a specific audience. “When a family with kids comes in, we’ll switch to cartoons or the Discovery or History channels,” said Linkeman. 

These Domino’s franchise locations also use TV programming to keep their guests informed beyond the conventional news networks. “If there’s a serious weather event going on, such as a big storm or hurricane happening in a certain part of the country, then we’ll stay tuned to the Weather Channel for a time during the day, so that customers have updates on the weather when they visit our restaurants,” Linkeman added.

What type of programming would you be interested in watching?

What About Your Staff? 

And the Domino’s franchisor we studied sees the value of installing TVs just to keep employees happy. In our discussion with Domino’s regional director, back-of-house installation wasn’t the focus, but the ability of workers to see televisions was nevertheless important. “Each location has two TVs, one on each end of the lobby,” said Linkeman. 

Due to Domino’s revamped “theater” layout, these TVs are also visible to employees; it appears that Domino’s wouldn’t have it any other way. “Televisions keep our customers engaged, yes, but they also boost morale for our employees too,” said Linkeman. “It helps keep them entertained while they work.” 

What is your primary motivation for having TVs in your employee areas?

Key Takeaways 

  • In an interconnected culture, technology is a must-have. Television is an impactful, highly visual piece of technology that keeps customers entertained and informed during restaurant-visit occasions. 
  • For restaurant operators looking to revamp their brand identity, televisions can help modernize and enhance atmosphere, creating the experiential factor that sets brands apart. 
  • As the labor pool tightens, consider the ways that back-of-house televisions can strengthen employee satisfaction and highlight your restaurant as an appealing place to work. 
  • Prioritize programming. While sports and news are the primary customer expectation, programming variety helps operators delight and entertain a broader, more diverse audience.

This post is sponsored by DIRECTV for BUSINESS

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