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Jared Pool is always looking for new solutions to what he calls “restaurant craziness.”
Pool co-owns and operates five locations of GADZOOKS, a quick-service Arizona soup and enchilada shop, with his brothers. For their budding fast-casual empire to succeed, finding easy ways to scale and streamline operations – while prioritizing the happiness of his staff and his customers – is essential.
“I think in our world now, we’ve got so many inputs that it’s like, how can we simplify stuff?” Pool said. “And I know making things simple is very hard.”
That’s one of the reasons Pool switched to Square in 2016. He was looking for a simple, reliable tool for everything from payroll to email marketing newsletters to a point of sale that would give his business an edge.
Here’s how Pool uses technology to keep the GADZOOKS orders flowing, in his own words.
Targeted marketing that drives sales
“Square has been huge with our growth. We brought on a creative director about two years ago, and he has utilized everything available to us. With the email contacts collected in our Square Dashboard, we send out a monthly newsletter. We interact with customers that way a lot. We also utilize an interface called Otter that brings all of our digital platforms — DoorDash, Uber Eats, at the time, Postmates — into one experience for our staff through Square.”
“Our creative director, Kevin, he’s very proud of the newsletter because it’s his content at the end of the day, but Square was able to [help us to] collect those emails. I think he has a 45% open rate, and it’s been steady. And our unsubscribe rates is super low. So we’ve had tremendous success with that. And on those newsletters, we have a call to action like, ‘Free guacamole if you come in with this code.’ That’s been awesome.”
A POS your staff can quickly master
“The POS is really easy, everything is at a touch of a button.
“If you have an iPhone, you can teach them — especially that demographic of our staff between 18 and 40 years old. So it comes back to our organization. If we have a really solid menu and we know what buttons to implement and those types of things, it’s very easy to train our staff.
For example, at our beer bar, The Green Woodpecker, we have beer and tacos and then flowers. And we decided to implement this marketing thing yesterday where if you buy a bouquet of flowers, you get a beer for a penny. And it was really easy for a general manager to log into Square and set it up. He was able to do it very quickly and easily.”
Driving retail sales online and in-store
“At GADZOOKS, we sell everything from tea towels to shirts to the cazuelas that we cook the food in. So we knew that a retail component was part of it. And we can pick up a little bit more sales. It’s huge. On this online interface, we’re heavily pushing our customers to Square Online ordering because the fees are significantly less. So we even push retail on there.”
Ready for the emergencies
“With other systems, if you got disconnected from the internet, you literally couldn’t operate a business. So Square, with their offline mode, was a game changer. I think one of the hardest things is that restaurant craziness, you get the ‘Oh my God’ call from your manager that’s like, ‘All our stores are down.’ Offline mode’s been very helpful in that.”
Prepare for the future by being tuned into the present
“Once you log into Square, it’s kind of a happy place in a sense that, as an owner, you can go to your reports, you know exactly what’s happening. You can go to your transactions, you know exactly what’s happening. And what’s really cool is that Square tracks all that now, and we can see in our reports — exactly how much salsa was used and that type of stuff.”
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“In the mornings I go through all my Square portals, I produce this labor report so we can see how the stores did. And I think of our world now, we’re 10 years into this, and our main goal is prime costs, which is food and labor. So everything else we can’t control. We can’t control our rent, our gas, our utilities, and stuff. But how do we control the food cost to get to 30% or less, and then our labor cost 25% or less, that’s our Bible. So that’s what we focus on every day.”
Tech that makes the challenges more manageable
“We know we’re serving a really good product and it’s so rewarding to be able to be differentiated. Because I think we all go out to dinner now and we spend quite a bit of money and we’re like, ‘Yeah, it was okay.’ And we’re really happy that we get to give a different experience. And then working with my family, our mom, she bakes all our cookies at our centralized kitchen. And then I work with my brother and my other brother too, with the bar. So that’s been wonderful.
I think the evolution of restaurant technology in Square has been super helpful with a lot of what used to be really challenging. You’ve got to find those little victories at times when it feels daunting.”