How The Cheesecake Factory engineered a turnaround using tech

It seems as though accepting orders online and promoting itself on social media helped bolster the company's sales.
19 October 2018 | 5 Shares

The Cheesecake Factory is using tech to make a comeback. Source: Wikimedia

The Cheesecake Factory had a tough time last year.

For the first time in 29 quarters, the casual-dining brand found that its comparable sales took a dip in the first quarter of the year, and followed on for the rest of 2017. However, by the end of the year, the company smartened up.

It laid out a plan focusing on digital initiatives with a delivery-integrated point of sale system and a social media marketing strategy — in hopes that 2018 would be better — and it has been.

In the first two quarters of 2018, the company turned itself around to hit with comparable sales growth of 2.1 percent in Q1 and 1.4 percent in Q2. And while results for Q3 are still awaited, it seems as though the company is doing the right things and is back to climbing a positive curve.

“Job No. 1 for us was to return The Cheesecake Factory restaurants to a positive comparable sales trend. We achieved that objective,” said Executive VP and CFO Matthew Clark.

How The Cheesecake Factory went digital

Based on its assessments of the food & beverage market, The Cheesecake Factory took all its locations online, providing live and online ordering capacity.

Ninety-five percent of these restaurants offer delivery conducted by a third-party provider.

“The delivery sales are 60 to 70 percent incremental for us. From an operating perspective, our restaurants continue to be able to execute the delivery program relatively seamlessly with the recent integration into our POS system from our main delivery provider,” explained company President David Gordon.

Contrary to naysayers within the business, going digital with its ordering system hasn’t disrupted the company. In fact, operations are running more smoothly, delivery time has decreased by 6 to 8 minutes, and guest feedback remains positive.

According to Zacks Equity Research, The Cheesecake Factory’s technology-enabled initiatives have been doing well. The company is also witnessing incremental sales from its delivery service that continues to roll out nationwide.

The company continues to improve its to-go business including online ordering capability — which analysts believe will be a major contributor to the growth of the company’s strong off-premise sales channels.

Ramping up efforts on social media

According to Zacks Equity Research, the company’s strong sales-building initiatives like extensive employment of digital and social media campaigns to showcase its high-quality ingredients and preparation techniques […] are significantly contributing to its top line.

“Utilizing digital and social media campaigns, we continue to highlight our fresh, high-quality ingredients and preparation techniques, as well as our new menu items,” explained Overton.

You can never have too many sauces! Especially when these three are made from scratch from nearly 50 ingredients! Which Thai Lettuce Wraps sauce is your favorite? Tamarind Cashew, Sweet Red Chili, or Thai Peanut?

You can never have too many sauces! Especially when these three are made from scratch from nearly 50 ingredients! Which Thai Lettuce Wraps sauce is your favorite? Tamarind Cashew, Sweet Red Chili, or Thai Peanut?

Posted by The Cheesecake Factory on Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The company has been combining exciting imagery with compelling text to attract its audience. Primarily, the strategy that is used is to explain — through dramatic visualization — how the foods its serve are prepared and served fresh.

Given the 5 million strong following that the company’s main page has garnered on Facebook, with ancillary (local) pages being followed by hundreds of thousands of people at a time, it seems as though the company has struck a chord with its customers.

Overall, The Cheesecake Factory seems to have made a lot of progress, and although the future is a blank canvas, if the company pursues more digital innovations, success seems guaranteed.