Case Study: Using Pre-Order Apps to Streamline Lunch Operations

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Merchant: Alta CA
Location: San Francisco, California
Platform: Allset
Bottom Line: Whether a digital marketing tool will work for a specific business depends largely on that business’s customer demographics.

Given its location in the mid-Market area of San Francisco, steps away from the headquarters of tech giants like Twitter, Square, and Yammer, Alta CA has a unique clientele. The bustling neighborhood restaurant, opened in December 2013, has customers who are willing to try out the latest apps and services, and as a result, it’s become a sort-of testing ground for hyperlocal marketing solutions.

“I get approached by app developers all the time, probably an average of one a week, since we opened,” says general manager Ben Hetzel. “I never mind, though. The restaurant world and the tech world are in the process of creating a wonderful friendship, so I like to be kept in the loop about what the ideas are.”

In an effort to improve Alta CA’s lunchtime offerings, and add another layer of service, Hetzel recently began on-boarding Allset, a reservation app that lets users book tables and pre-order lunches at participating restaurants. The app was created to address the needs of “busy people”—exactly the types of customers Hetzel sees at Alta CA.

Hetzel says he’s in the “final stages” of on-boarding Allset, and that the app should be up and running at Alta CA within the next few weeks. He expects that the impact of Allset will be low enough that the app will be able to operate side-by-side with other apps Alta CA already uses, including Caviar and Reserve.

Ideally, Hetzel says he would like to see a 10% increase in lunch sales once Allset has been fully launched. He’s also eager to add an additional layer of service for his early-adopter customer base.

“Time will tell,” he says.

Given the number of digital marketing tools and services used at Alta CA, Hetzel has had to come up with a method for evaluating the apps he’s pitched.

“Sometimes, I know that I’m not interested as soon as I see the product,” Hetzel says. “Other times, I go into a meeting thinking that the product will be subpar, and then I find myself quite impressed.”

When it comes to making the final decision of whether to use a digital marketing service at Alta CA, Hetzel considers both the operational impact and cost to his business.

“It comes down to impact on operations and the possibility of either increased revenue or deepening the customer experience,” Hetzel says. “Once I’ve decided that I am willing to consider using an app, then I will evaluate the cost.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.