It’s a common predicament. On a night out at the local pub, when it’s time to buy a fresh round of drinks, there’s a huge crowd waiting to be served at the bar. Do you patiently take up your place at the back of the throng? Do you wait for the crowd to die down? Or do you and your friends resolve to try your luck elsewhere and head off to another pub that’s hopefully less busy?
For visitors to an O’Neill’s pub, another option is available. They can whip out their mobile, open an app, tap in their order, and wait for it to be brought to the table by pub staff. This ‘order at table’ service was successfully introduced last year by O’Neill’s owner Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) and is set to be rolled out across other pub and restaurant brands in the company’s portfolio during 2019.
It’s not just a big hit with customers who are spared a trip to the bar. It’s also boosting company revenues, albeit in a small way, so far. Because this method makes it so fast and convenient for customers to add snacks or shots to their order, the average sale made via the order at table service is typically 20% bigger than one made at the bar, according to Mark Forrester, digital applications support manager at M&B.
Click and collect your roast dinner
Digital services like these are an increasingly important way for M&B to interact with customers - or ‘guests’, as it prefers to call them. Other examples from the £2.15bn operator of All Bar One, Ember Inns, Harvester and others include the ability to book tables in advance at pubs and restaurants, and also click and collect capabilities - so you can order a takeaway roast dinner from the company’s Toby Carvery restaurants, for example.
And while these services are built on M&B’s behalf by a third-party development partner using the Adobe Experience Manager platform, it’s down to Mark Forrester and his team to ensure that they run well once in production. To do this, they have been using Dynatrace for the past 16 months, as Forrester explained to attendees at this week’s Perform Summit in Barcelona.
Forrester was persuaded to go with Dynatrace, he says, by the way it presents information on application performance to his team and by the promise of the artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities of its underlying Davis engine:
As we trialled Dynatrace, it became apparent very quickly that the AI does exactly what it says on the tin. From our perspective, it was a case of seeing is believing - and as well as surfacing all the issues we expected it to, Dynatrace started finding issues where the cause had puzzled us for some time.
For example, they had not understood why making a menu change on a brand’s website led to massive slowdowns and a series of fixes to get the platform going again - but Dynatrace was able to track it back to a utilization issue in the underlying Redis data store. It initially seemed an improbable cause to Forrester and his team, but turned out to be spot-on, he says.
Business insights on tap
In addition to doing their own trouble-shooting and making their own connections, Forrester and his team are also using Business Insight services from Dynatrace, a kind of managed service in which Dynatrace’s internal experts create regular reports and dashboards that help customers make the link between application performance issues and business performance issues. He says:
To be honest, we just don’t have the headcount to do all this work ourselves, but Dynatrace does it for us with weekly and monthly reports. So for ‘order at table’, we get weekly statistics relating to each stage of that process and we can drill all the way down to specific sales.
This will help ensure that M&B’s guest are able to enjoy a pub or restaurant experience that is as friction-free as possible, he says, even at times that turn out to be unexpectedly busy. And that really matters, when you consider that on Christmas Day 2018, M&B took a record-breaking £12 million in revenue and served 225,000 meals.