Bloomin’ Brands uses data to save money and improve the customer experience
Bloomin’ Brands is one of the largest dinning companies, serving around millions of its customers through 1500 restaurants based in some 20 countries. The restaurants are also located in some of the unincorporated territories of US like Guam and Puerto Rico.
The restaurant’s chain based in Tampa have a ubiquitous brand name such as Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. The first outlet of Outback Steakhouse was opened in 1988 in Tampa. The restaurant offers meals and trendy drinks at reasonable prices coupled with a consistency in their menu and décor. Nevertheless, the back of house operations revealed that facilities were not properly scrutinized and analyzed.
In fact, facilities repair and maintenance were the purview of each store manager. Outsourcing meant neither Bloomin’ Brands know all its contractors nor did it have a handle on maintenance schedules and cost of the enterprise. The company turned to ServiceChannel to identify the gaps in its facilities management. Thus, ServiceChannel provided a single platform to procure, manage and pay for repair and maintenance services from commercial contractors across the enterprise.
Cost savings helps customers experience
“Typically, the main incentive for seeking a solution like ours is a need for cost savings and improve customer experience,” says Tom Buiocchi, executive director and CEO at ServiceChannel. “The ‘outsourced’ model is significantly more expensive and inherently adds layers of unnecessary costs for the customer who often ends up paying several times the cost of the actual work.” It also means less corporate control, which can contribute to the lessening of brand standards.
Buiocchi also said that there is a clear need is for a system that can operate cohesively across many locations and geographies. Moreover, this is an important factor in the successful operation of a company operating in multiple countries and territories.
Buiocchi has carried out these estimations using decades of customer data. According to his calculations, there are 2 million-plus physical retail stores in the USA, spending more than $100 billion per year on maintenance and repair – a huge amount being spent inefficiently. Buiocchi claims there is at least 20 percent waste, which indicates that $20 billion could have been theoretically directed at improving customer experience.
Cost savings and efficiencies were the main talking points between Bloomin’ Brands ServiceChannel. “We spoke to numerous companies, including retail/restaurant and service provider/contractors,” says Jon Ahrendt, director of facilities at Bloomin’ Brands. “We attended multiple trade shows and observed how prolific ServiceChannel was in the contractor community. Service providers were proudly messaging they were on ServiceChannel. We saw and heard the stories about how easy it was to use and that it helped both sides of the transaction work together.”
Let’s talk about the working mechanism of the ServiceChannel. It combines a web and mobile-based work order management system with integrated analytics, offering a source-to-settle system. The configurable and flexible software initiates and validates work performed and helps manage all planned and demanded service requests across all locations, categories, and trades. The platform provides independent and unbiased data on contractor performance to keep them accountable for the work they have agreed to perform. It helps in cutting operational costs without reducing service levels while ensuring compliance.
Bloomin’ Brands needed “a simple interface for locations to interact with, so they were not always on the phone, visibility into larger ticket items and ability to control proposals from contractors,” Buiocchi says. Those fixes would ultimately “allow them to bring control in the house.”
Bloomin’ Brands was aware of its major challenges which included a lack of support, strategy, process, technology, dedicated personnel, and a lack of visibility into its spending, scope and service providers. “We had many members on the team (both dedicated and shared resources) ranging from facilities and operations to accounting, finance, strategic integration, and training,” Ahrendt says. “We also had support from ServiceChannel’s implementation on boarding, contractor support, call center and national account teams.”
While that might sound like a lot of bodies, facilities managers will increasingly be at the table with fellow managers as Ahrendt was, all dedicated to strategically planning the customer experience from a variety of viewpoints — and all contributing to a recipe for success. A pilot program followed.
“We worked with them to build a strategy that addressed cultural, operational and fiscal considerations including hiring great people,” Buiocchi says. ServiceChannel also established formal key performance indicators to measure department effectiveness and vendor performance based on four categories: quality (user feedback and recalls), cost savings (compared with benchmarks), the speed of service (time to dispatch and resolution), and efficient administration (invoicing and compliance).
ServiceChannel’s “dual-focused” approach appealed to Bloomin’ Brands. “We wanted to get from zero to 60 overnight in terms of our ‘facilities management evolution,’” Ahrendt says. “We needed to work with the right technology partner who would give us the flexibility to grow the business the way we wanted.” He also said, “We liked that they cared about their clients and service providers.”
ServiceChannel was responsive. “That’s one of their strengths,” Ahrendt says, “We knew the mobile app would be an important advancement for our operators. Proposal review and approval was on the road map, but was months away from release. Once we expressed how important it would be for our team, they accelerated its development and release. It was a huge improvement and made a substantial difference.”
Relationship building helps in customer experience
The platform of ServiceChannel has been deployed at Bloomin’ Brands for more than 18 months, covering more than 1,200 U.S. locations. Specifically, the company relies on Service Automation, ServiceChannel’s flagship platform that provides the ability to open work orders, and for the facilities team to track progress through resolution, analytics custom, an optional Service Automation module to run reports customized for internal and external stakeholders and Invoice Manager to reduce invoice and payment processing costs through a closed-loop process.
“We knew we had the right solution before we went live in July of 2015,” Ahrendt says. “Their approach to business coupled with their mobile solution gave us confidence. We achieved immediate visibility, strong operations support and comprehensive analytics from day one.”
Besides savings, the company achieved the key metric which was relationships. “The relationship between our operations team and the service provider were at the forefront of our decision. That’s where the work takes place”, said Ahrendt
Having worked with a multitude of third-party systems and companies, “We knew what we were looking for,” Ahrendt says. “It was finding the perfect balance of culture and business requirements.”