While acknowledging it has been tough for a restaurant group to function and trade, especially in Victoria during the stage four lockdown, Stapleton says that first and foremost, the company’s staff have been amazing.
“They’ve had to cope with a fast-paced and changing landscape with COVID-19 but they’ve remained very positive and been a beacon of light for local communities,” he says.
“For example, it sounds simple but our teams took it upon themselves to write positive messages on takeaway bags for the customers while some others took it to the next level with amazing artwork aimed at putting a smile on our customers’ faces.”
On the digital front, Grill’d have worked hard to augment their takeaway and home delivery services with more personalised service and more seamless customer interactions.
And while nothing beats the “five senses” experience of dining in one of the group’s restaurants, Stapleton says the company’s digital initiatives have “been one of the keys to Grill’d successfully navigating through these uncertain times”.
He says Salesforce is one of the foundations of the group’s whole digital offering “and we worked very closely with Salesforce to unlock functionality, such as integrating SMS with our own native Grill’d delivery”.
“Now we can communicate in real time with our customers regarding their delivery orders.”
Part of focusing on customer needs through the pandemic has seen the company build on its delivery offering by offering Grill’d delivery rather than just rely on third party providers.
This has brought the company closer to its customers and has involved a new partnership with global technology firm DoorDash.
Linked to the Grill’d Relish membership program, DoorDash provides the drivers while the two company’s technology platforms were integrated by Salesforce.
The Salesforce relationship goes further as Grill’d also use their “analytics and marketing platforms to understand our customers as well as to develop relevant, personalised communication,” Stapleton says.
“We’re all in this together, and Salesforce helped make sure we could use those analytics to personalise communication, whether that be around the latest health directions or relevant offers.”
Importantly, Salesforce helped Grill’s move quickly, Stapleton says, especially during the first few weeks of uncertainty when they “came to the party very quickly”.
“With the delivery service, once the pandemic hit we wanted to make sure we were up and running quickly. We had to accelerate and Salesforce, within 72 hours (over a weekend), were able to do the integrations and make sure the service worked successfully.
“When the pandemic first hit our motto was ‘survive to thrive’. We had to act quickly and decisively to shore up the business, and ensure we communicated often with both restaurant teams, our customers and our devoted Relish members and Salesforce certainly came through for us,” Stapleton says.
Beyond shoring up the company’s digital offerings, Stapleton says the company has continued to iterate its COVID-19 response depending on what needs to be done in different jurisdictions. The key has been to build everything around the company’s three pillars of “safety of our team and visitors, brand connection, and community leadership”.
They’ve worked hard with local suppliers to make sure they’ve been supported especially as many local small businesses who supply local hospitality providers have seen much of their business dry up completely.
Moreover, the company has implemented stringent COVID-19 safe practices in every restaurant nationally and worked to ensure all its communications have been “empathetic and fact based”.
For Stapleton, honest, empathetic and positive communications have been critical because Grill’d restaurants play an important and trusted role in their local communities. This has meant different communications responses in different states because it’s “important to make sure we understood how everyone was feeling wherever they were,” Stapleton concluded.
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