A week after our return from the International Pizza Expo, we’re still digesting all that we saw and heard at this year’s big show.
Conversations with restaurant operators at the Expo are a crash course in how the industry is changing—and how it stays the same.
The radical changes that stood out to me were around mobile technology. Restaurant operators were looking for solutions for mobile order entry in the store. And flexible options to handle online orders from a surprisingly wide set of providers.
My favorite moment at any Pizza Expo is when a restaurant operator gets excited enough about a solution we’re offering to stop us so he can share the news right then and there with a partner or key manager:
“Hey, Joe. Listen to this.”
I had quite a few “Hey, Joe” moments at this year’s show. They tend to happen a restaurant operator realizes that a new tool can fix a problem that’s been driving them nuts:
- Like the time, mistakes, and high labor cost involved in re-entering orders that come in from GrubHub, DoorDash, Eat 24, and a huge, long list of new providers that seems to vary city to city. “Hey, Joe. Listen to this. We can have our Eat24 and GrubHub orders come straight into the POS and print out in the kitchen.”
- The frustration of dealing with sudden spikes in traffic at lunch. “Hey, Joe. Listen to this. We can use a tablet for linebusting.”
- Or a loyalty solution that works pretty well, but costs way too much every month. “Hey, Joe. Did you know we can have mobile rewards—with no transaction fees?”
- The highlight of this show? It was a “Hey, Joe” meta-moment—when a long-time customer interrupted my explanation to make a call—and then handed me his cell phone. “This is Joe,” he said. “Tell him what you told me.”