Last year, Saladworks rolled out Gusto, a new POS system, across its entire franchise system. The success of that upgrade kicked off a concerted effort by the corporate team to introduce new and improved tech solutions for every aspect of the franchise’s operational model, leading to what Jena Henderson, Saladworks’ vice president of growth, calls “the year of technology” in 2018.

Saladworks’ goal when switching to Gusto was to institute a platform that would collect and store a wealth of foundational data for the corporate team to analyze while providing a consistent and streamlined payment service throughout all Saladworks stores.

“The POS system is the primary way that data is shared between the customer and the franchisee and between the franchisee and the corporate team,” Henderson said. “Gathering all that data in one place has far-reaching benefits.”

Henderson says the corporate team quickly identified those benefits and to take full advantage of them, they began rolling out new tools designed to integrate with the unified POS.

“We’re rolling out an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system called Restaurant365 which takes all the data we gather from Gusto and connects it with all of our other essential data including our financials and inventory management,” Henderson said.

Restaurant 365 is currently being tested in Saladworks’ corporate stores but Henderson says the technology team is excited to roll it out to the rest of the system once it’s been fully optimized for their model.

One of the data sets that is incorporated into Restaurant365 currently comes from Profit Keeper, a tool that contains franchised stores’ monthly profit and loss information. It will be the framework for what Saladworks calls “Best in Case,” “case” (for the salad case) replaces the typical “class.”

“We can look at the best performers using Gusto, Restaurant 365 and Profit Keeper in a variety of categories each month — highest soup sales, biggest lunch rush, etcetera — and we can talk to the top five performers and ask them what they are doing differently, then share that with other owners,” she said. This is the framework around which franchising is built. Owners get to capitalize on the success of other stores in the system.

The data Saladworks gathers with Gusto, Restaurant365, and Profit Keeper has already allowed the franchise to institute operational improvements designed to cut costs for store owners.

“We can measure the cost of everything, down to the ounce of each ingredient used in each recipe,” Henderson said. “We’ve already been able to make some minor changes in our recipes that have resulted in substantial cost savings. We’ve also been able to more effectively measure our pricing structure versus other restaurants.”

Beyond internal data analysis, Henderson says one of the biggest benefits of the brand’s new tech suite is its integration with outside systems. Restaurant 365 is not only integrated with the Gusto POS but also connects with all of the brand’s manufacturers, distributors and vendors so that stores can track theoretical food cost and avoid over- or under-purchasing or mismanaging inventory.

“These tools allow us to increase profitability at each restaurant, but more importantly, they allow our owners to focus on the business,” she said. “All of the data works on the back-end, and it gives owners the information they need to make decisions quickly and easily.”

To that end, Henderson says Saladworks’ tech team is prioritizing cloud-based services so that all of them can be managed, serviced and upgraded at the corporate office.

Before the end of the year, Henderson says the brand will introduce new consumer and franchise websites and roll out a new online ordering platform that focuses on a “good to go” pickup system designed to enhance speed of service.

All of the new tools, Henderson says, are designed with the brand’s core value of servant leadership and make sure that everything done by Saladworks allows store owners to better serve their customers.