By Laura Rea Dickey, CIO, Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. | April 11, 2016
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit turns 75 this year and while a great deal has changed about the way the company interacts with its customers, much has remained the same. The focus for Dickey’s remains serving authentic, artisanal Texas-style barbecue that is still slow smoked on-site at every store. Where change has occurred however, is in the offering of modern conveniences such as online ordering and in-store Wi-Fi plus a modernized approach to reaching guests in a personalized and on-demand way.
Discovering the changing needs and desires of a new generation is largely driven by new technologies that allow for the analysis of customer-centric big data in real-time. To do this, last year Dickey’s launched its proprietary data analytics platform, Smoke Stack. With this technology Dickey’s management is able to pull geo-targeted data to learn more about guests and what they are buying.
Smoke Stack compiles several different sets of data throughout the day, which allows owner/operators and the home office to look at sales and check counts and identify ways to boost existing sales or course correct if necessary. As new wealth of data is available every 20 minutes, owner/operators together with Dickey’s operations team can react to new information as they receive it. For instance, if sales are lower than anticipated on a certain product offering, a text can be sent out to guests who have opted in to let them know there is a special deal available on that product. This both equalizes inventory and boosts sales.
Boosting loyalty with location-based offers
This year, Dickey’s launched the second phase of its technology program in partnership with Spendgo (www.spendgo.com), a loyalty customer engagement solution provider that allows guests to receive more personalized and geo-targeted specials. Members earn points that can be redeemed for free barbecue. This program is unique because it not only offers loyalty points to guests, but it also self-adapts to geo-targeted offer redemptions so that guests get offers based on what they want in specific regions. This not only increases sales, but builds trust and loyalty with guests who receive offers and specials that they actually want to redeem.
As Dickey’s is a nationwide barbecue brand with 540 locations, it is imperative to stay authentic, while acknowledging the different preferences that occur in different regions. The data gained from Dickey’s technology programs allows us to geo-target offers to our guests all over the country based on those preferences.
The days of blanket marketing are over, and digital, geo-targeted and personalized marketing has taken its place. Dickey’s is working hard to stay ahead of that curve by constantly analyzing data. We don’t want to guess who our customer is, we use the data available to us to know who they are, reach them where they are and offer the products they want.
Dickey’s has actually built guest profiles that describe its “heavy user” down to where they shop for groceries, what type of car they probably drive and even what beer they drink. In such a competitive landscape, a brand must know their audience that well. Personalization is the best way to attract new guests and keep them. That goes to everything from marketing to social media to the type of daily specials we offer. I like to say we cook like a trusted 75-year-old brand, but we adapt like a nimble tech startup. Brands that aren’t personalizing to their guests are not likely to last long in today’s market landscape.
What was your first job?
Barn hand in Wheatland, WY where I fed, watered, brushed and shoveled after the horses.
Who inspires you?
My colleagues, the best folks who are truly passionate.
What are your hobbies?
Reading, travel, and horseback riding.
What technologies excite you?
Sensors, the cloud and wearable tech.
Always question. Never be content. Read daily.
What is one other job that you would like to try?
National Geographic photographer.
What is one goal that you would like to achieve in your life?
Retiring to Port Townsend, WA with a sense of humor and health intact.
What three people would you invite to lunch?
Golda Meir, Robert McNamera and Lillian Hellman.
What is your favorite book/movie?
Watch on the Rhine
What is your favorite vacation spot?