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Best Use of Technology Award – Cateys 2009

10 July 2009
Best Use of Technology Award – Cateys 2009

THE WINNER: Heathcotes Group
Sponsored by: Computer Weekly

Heathcotes Group has 11 restaurants spread through the North-west of England. The company focuses on two main brands: Heathcotes Collection and the Olive Press. However, across all outlets in this £8.8m-turnover operation there was one problem that needed fixing, and it's not an uncommon one for restaurant operators: too many missed calls.

Management felt that significant revenue was being lost because staff were caught between dealing with customers in the restaurant and picking up the phone. As a result of this situation the level of missed calls was estimated at around 20%.

This structural flaw was equated to £300,000 of lost revenue on the basis of conservative estimates of 500 missed calls a month at £50 per booking. An objective was thus formulated of centralising all reservations in a call centre, improving the service to the customer and offering a professional call-handling service.

Budgets were limited, so an easy, good-value solution was sought through new technology put in place by telecoms company Virocom with a "guest administration" system.

As a result of the new technology missed calls are now down to 2% of total calls. The system has enabled restaurant staff to concentrate on serving customers and operatives at head office to deliver the kind of greeting not always possible in a busy restaurant.

There is also a reward card element to the system that has drawn in 8,000 card holder sign-ups in the first 12 months. The next stage is to increase the number of transactions per card holder, which is being monitored by Heathcotes' till suppliers DBE.

Judges felt that, although this was a relatively simple application of technology, Heathcotes had achieved its aims with the new system admirably. Alan Taylor, non-executive director at Ponti's, said: "I was impressed with the approach taken by the Heathcotes team. The project had clear objectives and delivered significant benefits. It was good to see a project focused on increasing sales and customer loyalty. It was particularly pleasing to see such a successful project from a small player in the industry."

Diana Spellman, managing director of Partners in Purchasing, added: "Heathcotes was a clear and deserving winner of the technology award for the innovation shown in optimising opportunities to capture new bookings for the restaurant group while cementing stronger relationships with its existing customer base. The project was inspirational in how it integrated the new centralised call centre into its existing reservation technology. The project was simple, had clear goals, was well thought-through, executed and presented as a case study. The results proved that taking this integrated approach worked, whilst supporting and enhancing other customer loyalty tools."

According to Duncan Cressell, regional manager (south) at UPP Technology Services: "I felt Heathcotes had reacted in a positive way to a demanding economic climate. As a small chain of restaurants, they have gone back to basics and used established technology to reinvigorate their sales. The team had made the best use of technology to capture customers and formed a platform to generate more interest and loyalty in a simple yet effective deployment."

SHORTLISTED

  • Compass Group UK & Ireland
  • Heathcotes Group
  • Premier Inn
  • Royal Garden Hotel, London

THE JUDGES

  • Duncan Cressall, regional manager (south), UPP Residential Services
  • Clive Holland, managing director, Sugarvine
  • Stephen Minall, director/owner, Wrapid
  • Nicholas Mortimer, manager, Domino's Pizza UK/ROI
  • Diana Spellman, managing director, Partners in Purchasing
  • Alan Taylor, non-executive director, Ponti's
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