Case Study: Hospitality Group Uses CRM to Understand Customer Patterns

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Merchant: Garces Group
Location: East Coast
Size: 14 locations
Platforms: Facebook, Google, Instagram, OpenTable, Twitter, Venga
Bottom Line: CRM platforms allow multi-location businesses to pool the customer data coming in from all of their physical locations in real-time.

“What do our customers think about the job we’re doing?” That’s a question most businesses are looking to answer, whether they’re using traditional guest feedback surveys or more sophisticated CRM software. At Garces, a Philadelphia-based hospitality group with more than a dozen restaurants spread across the East Coast, getting inside the minds of consumers and more strategically managing guest feedback has become a top priority.

Since 2016, the company has been using a CRM platform for restaurants called Venga to identify past guests who’ve stopped coming in as frequently and then motivating those guests to return. Garces has also used Venga to increase the frequency of visits from loyal customers by pulling in data from platforms like OpenTable, and using social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Prior to adopting the CRM platform, Garces was taking a piecemeal approach to identifying and motivating lapsed guests, explains VP of Operations Robert Esplen. Esplen and his team were running mass email campaigns, but they were having trouble keeping track of the results and evaluating what percentage of email recipients were actually coming into Garces restaurants as a direct result of the marketing emails they received.

Frustrated with the limitations of their manual approach, Esplen started a new strategy in 2016. Using reservation data from OpenTable and his CRM platform, Esplen has been able to track the number of Garces guests who visited twice within a 90-day period. At the same time, the CRM platform also pulls out information about which guests have visited once within the past 90-days without returning for a second time. These are the customers that Esplen and his team are most interested in engaging, typically through well-timed emails with discount codes, along with social media campaigns.

“We have multiple strategies. It’s not a one size fits all,” Esplen says.

Although Garces is now using Venga at all 14 East Coast restaurant locations, Esplen says the company took a measured approach to rolling out the system as it evaluated the ROI and other key metrics.

“We typically start with a couple restaurants, seeing that we have a diverse portfolio of operations we try to pick one restaurant in each category to see how it’ll work before implementing across the group,” he says.

Now that the company has had time to evaluate its new marketing system, Esplen says he’s pleased with the results. Tracking actual spend and visit histories to individual guest profiles has made measuring ROI pretty straightforward.

“We’ve always known that we have a loyal following, but seeing some guests with over a 100 visits group wide was amazing,” he says.

In addition to consolidating reviews and feedback data, Esplen says he’s also been impressed with Venga’s capabilities for distributing data across multiple restaurant locations. Rather than storing the customer data from each restaurant in a silo, Garces centralized its guest database and now keeps better track of guest preferences, so general managers and servers can know a guest’s preferences even if that customer has never visited the specific restaurant before.

“Knowing that John Smith prefers a booth versus a table gives us an edge to really make a connection with our guests on a different level,” he says.

In the coming months, Garces plans to continue integrating its CRM platform with existing marketing technologies to expand its data mining capabilities.

“[Data mining will] effectively puts the feedback in our operators hands, allowing them to make informed decisions,” Esplen says.

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.