Client Story: Sunflour Serves 10,000 Charlotte Diners
Sunflour Baking Company makes everything from scratch. Their signature flaky croissants and toasted sandwiches, served alongside handcrafted coffee, have sustained the Charlotte area since 2011 with four neighborhood locations.
When Jack Parrish took over the original store in 2014, he and his family dedicated themselves to preserving the friendly communal vibes and efficient operations as they worked to “copy paste” that Sunflour magic in the next three locations to follow. While known for their “slow food” approach, Jack knew that the business would eventually need to embrace technology to stay competitive.
At their customer’s requests, Sunflour dabbled in third party delivery apps for a few years before the pandemic hit. In May 2020, Jack signed up for ChowNow to help streamline the necessary pivot to a takeout-only model. Now, nearly 10,000 Charlotte diners continue to use his whitelabeled ChowNow ordering systems to get their regular Sunflour fix.
You’re no stranger to delivery apps—but what made you decide to sign up with ChowNow?
From the restaurant’s point of view, it’s very expensive to engage with these third party online ordering systems. However, they are popular, and since so many people want to order ahead and order online, they are unavoidable.
When we decided to fully embrace the whole concept of online ordering, we went with ChowNow primarily because it is a white label solution. It’s also available in more places where people specifically go to look for Sunflour. It allows us to track our customers—so we maintain the relationship with the customer and we don’t give that up to another third party system.
Third party systems are expensive and you don’t own your data, which makes them doubly expensive.
ChowNow is not as expensive, you own your data, and you can brand the experience—there’s just so many reasons why ChowNow is the superior option. For all those reasons, we just decided to run with it and integrate ChowNow everywhere and anywhere we could.
What impact has ChowNow had on your takeout operations over the past year?
A quarter of our revenue comes in online and the majority of that—definitely more than half—is from ChowNow. Prior to the pandemic, our online ordering was very small, maybe a percent or two. Since the pandemic, it’s increased to a quarter of our overall revenue, and the vast majority of that is from ChowNow.
Was there anything that surprised you about your transition to ChowNow?
A surprising thing was the amount of takeout orders–the people who were willing to come and pick up their food instead of choosing delivery—which was delightful for a couple of reasons. First of all, anything we can do to reduce wait time for customers that order ahead is great.
Second, other ordering systems charge exorbitant amounts for delivery, but they also charge exorbitant amounts for pickup—at that point, they aren’t really providing too much of a service to us other than maybe bringing one customer we might not have otherwise had. So, I was glad to have a low-cost pickup service that also had a cheaper delivery option built in.
What’s been the biggest benefit to your business since adding ChowNow?
The first benefit is that we’re seeing more business. More people are interested in getting their breakfast or their lunch from Sunflour if they know they can expedite the process by ordering ahead, so there’s also the convenience factor.
And it’s also about getting our menu out on Google search pages, on Facebook, on all these various places that ChowNow integrates with. We even have an app from ChowNow, which is great. There are all these various ways that we can be seen.
Even if they don’t result in a direct order at that moment, people will see that we are embracing technology and making ourselves available everywhere. It’s just good marketing. You can’t get enough impressions, right?
Has there been a time that ChowNow support has really helped you out?
Yes, my restaurant success manager has been the most helpful—even in just coming up with marketing ideas to try out. The other systems do have their reps, and I suppose I do communicate with them here and there, but the difference is that I feel like ChowNow is in my camp and the other services are just vendors. There’s a sense that Sunflour and ChowNow are in this together.
What are some of your goals as you continue to grow your business?
I would like to work on converting the delivery orders we get from other third party apps to ChowNow delivery. That’s important because we pay a lower fee through ChowNow’s delivery. The same person orders on DoorDash and DoorDash gets their 25% commission, but when they order on ChowNow it ends up being a lot less, so we get to keep more money. That’s why it’s important that all our orders go through a whitelabeled system as opposed to one of the third party systems.
Sunflour promotes their ChowNow-powered delivery to customers as a better alternative to high-fee delivery apps.
ChowNow is a unique partner for local restaurants because we offer restaurants their own online ordering system, which allows them to offer their customers the convenience of online ordering without the costly commissions. We also equip them with tools to help them reach new diners and help them run a successful restaurant. If you’re interested in learning more, schedule a demo with one of our online ordering specialists.