The Most Overlooked Essential for Multi-Unit Restaurants | ChowNow
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The Most Overlooked Essential for Multi-Unit Restaurants

February 24th, 2021 Restaurant Tech Written by Eliza Fisher

Consistent, streamlined experiences are table stakes—pun intended—for restaurants. Predictable and high-quality food, service, operations, and customer experience makes businesses more profitable, builds trust with guests, generates loyalty, and makes everyone’s life easier. This is especially true for operators of multi-unit restaurants, for whom scale matters even more.

For example, Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor shares that “speed and consistency matter most” for his chain’s operations. Jack in the Box CEO Leonard Comma agrees, commenting that “faster and more consistent service for guests [will] ultimately deliver more sales and profits for operators.”

Yet while many restaurant operators have perfected uniform recipes, strict staff training standards, reliable ingredient sourcing processes, and strong branding across locations, they often fail to consider another essential: online ordering.

Consistent, streamlined online ordering is critical for multi-unit restaurants.

Online ordering systems have grown in popularity over the past decade, and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of digital tools. Now, 53 percent of consumers say that takeout and delivery are essential to their way of life. 

Early adopters, like Domino’s and Starbucks, have used their online ordering solutions to create a consistent and delightful experience for their customers. Whether they’re in Maine or Hawaii, consumers can count on the Domino’s Pizza Tracker and the Starbucks app for pleasant, reliable, and easy experiences. 

Many multi-unit restaurants, though, don’t prioritize the online experience. The assumption is that it’s enough to just have online ordering—and that it doesn’t matter much how the online ordering system works or looks. Between budget concerns, the urgency of getting online any way you can, and the sheer amount of responsibilities that operators have, it’s understandable. Unfortunately,  though, relying on a patchwork of different ordering solutions across locations leads to operational headaches, lost revenue, and disappointed customers.

For example, if one of your locations uses Postmates and Upserve to take orders, and another relies on Aloha and UberEats, your guests must use different logins depending on how they order. Menu items and prices may vary across these platforms, and there’s a risk of drop-off due to diners’ confusion or frustration.

In addition to the shockingly high commissions that most third-party platforms charge, they prevent you from gathering all the data you need to optimize your online business and market to your guests. Let’s not forget about all the operational hiccups that happen when your staff have to juggle multiple systems.

Implementing a white-label, commission-free online ordering system for all locations will solve these issues and create more opportunities for your business. Let’s take a closer look.

Unified online ordering helps multi-unit restaurants in five key ways.

1. It creates  more ways to order without sacrificing ease of use.

With a single system, you can centrally manage every part of your online ordering including menus, marketing, delivery times and zones, and so much else. ChowNow takes this a step further by enabling online ordering across all of your multi-unit restaurants’ social and search pages, like Google, Tripadvisor, Opentable, and other popular sites. 

Even better, you can get one branded mobile ordering app that serves all of your locations. This expands possibilities for marketing, customer acquisition, and retention—especially since you can collect valuable customer data.

An iPhone shows a restaurant's branded mobile ordering app next to other popular apps on a user's homescreen.

2. With one system, training is simple.

When you set up all of your locations on the same online ordering system, you’re instituting standard operating procedures for your digital business. It’s far easier to train staff and identify areas of improvement. 

3. It offers better support for your team and customers.

When you work with one online ordering system, you’re giving both your staff and customers access to consistent support. While you’re busy growing your multi-unit restaurant, the ChowNow Support team can lend a hand to employees and guests alike. They act as an extension of your team, troubleshooting any issues that may arise on both sides of a transaction. A bonus: They offer 100% fraud and chargeback coverage, too.

4. It helps you easily manage costs across your multi-unit restaurant.

When you sign on with a commission-free platform, you’re making an excellent choice for your bottom line. As mentioned earlier, commissions are a killer, and a flat-fee service dramatically reduces expenses. 

ChowNow’s commission-free delivery also makes costs predictable. Rather than taking a percentage of every order, which cuts into profits every time, our delivery rate is based on distance. Plus, you can automatically pass some or all of the fee to your customers.

Bookmark for later: See what you would save by using flat-fee ordering with our commissions calculator.

5. Unified online ordering improves guest experience.

Given the various obstacles and quirks of off-premise service, offering a great restaurant customer experience for pickup and delivery is challenging. Thankfully, the right ordering platform can help.

Customers expect consistency, and having a single online ordering platform helps you deliver on and even exceed their expectations. No matter which location they order from, they’ll have the same, easy selection and checkout process. They can store their login and payment information the very first time they order from you, and then never worry about it again.

All of a multi-unit restaurant's locations are shown in a list next to a map, making it easy for customers to choose the right location to order from.

When your guests aren’t confused or distracted by inconsistency, they’ll pay more attention to all of the positive aspects of your multi-unit restaurant. This includes your excellent food, quality service, compelling marketing messages, and everything else that you and your team practice with dedication. This kind of satisfaction builds trust and loyalty, priming customers to keep coming back and ordering more.


Moving all of your locations to one online ordering system doesn’t have to be difficult. ChowNow’s team is prepared to help. Our dedicated onboarding specialists get new restaurant partners up and running, and our Restaurant Success Managers offer free consultations to optimize your business. Learn more about what we can achieve together by booking a quick call with us.

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