BTC Podcast Ep 4: Rob Tedesco, Defining Difference & Managing Scale | Hathway

BTC Podcast Ep 4: Rob Tedesco, Defining Difference & Managing Scale

Published by Kevin Rice, CMO
June 18, 2020

Rob Tedesco, Defining Difference & Managing Scale

This week, we welcome Rob Tedesco, former VP of Digital and Consumer Technology at Subway, to our 4th episode of Beyond the Counter. Jesse, Kevin and Rob discuss what it takes to shift the mindset of one of the world’s largest franchise brands towards digital-first. Rob shares his views on when to buy, build or partner during a digital transformation, the difference between program, product and project management teams and how to involve franchisees in new technology initiatives. Plus, you don’t want to miss them debate hot topics like the best cupcake recipe and whether or not mezcal is fancy.

Check it out on your favorite podcast platform or the video below.

Video Transcription

Jesse:

Hello, everybody. We’re excited for our next episode of Beyond the Counter. And today we’re going to be having a conversation with Rob Tedesco, formerly of Subway, who’s got a lot of great insights about how that, you know, the injury is surviving COVID and what’s going to happen afterwards.

Kevin:

Awesome. Let’s jump into it.

Kevin:

Welcome everybody to our next episode of Beyond the Counter. Excited today for our guest, Rob Tedesco. Rob’s the former VP of digital and technology at none other than Subway.

Jesse:

What I heard about Rob and Rob, you can correct me if I’m wrong here was that you left Subway on like March 9th or something because you wanted to work remote and they wouldn’t let you.

Kevin:

Yeah. I don’t believe that. I think Rob actually has a crystal ball and knew what was coming and he was like, drop the mic I’m out.

Rob:

It was, you know, fortuitous timing, no matter how you slice it. Thank you, Kevin. Thank you, Jesse, for having me I’m stoked to be here. Yeah. And it was a very weird time to leave a, you know, a, you know, relatively executive position at the world’s largest restaurant. That’s for sure.

Kevin:

Yes. Yes. Well, we’re excited to talk to you a little bit about that. Before we get into it, how are you hanging in? Are you still up in quarantine, staying safe and everything?

Rob:

We’re good. We’re good. My family and I live in Connecticut, not far from New York City. Like everyone else, it was an adjustment being in the house with, you know, your family and trying to work at the same time. But coming out of it and things are opening up a teeny bit here in Connecticut, you know very kind of similar to the way I think California is approaching it from a state perspective. So, you know, we can at least maybe go to a playground or something, which would be cool.

Kevin:

Yeah. Yeah, for sure. We found a lot of different approaches to quarantine. A lot of people expanding their wine collections as one way to cope. Some people finding new ways to kind of expand their skill sets and hobbies. You find yourself doing anything new or different in quarantine?

Rob:

No other than, you know, baking a lot of cupcakes for my two and a half and six year olds. So, you know my, my skill as a home cook/chef, whatever has definitely risen a little bit. My wife is also the head of e-comm at Diageo so our liquor cabinet was going to be stocked no matter what coming in. And yeah, thank God for that.

Jesse:

Nice. What’s the what’s your favorite cupcake recipe or what’s your kids’ favorite cupcake recipe?

Rob:

Oh, I mean, to me personally, which is the only one that matters is a yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting, for sure. I mean, my kids would just go chocolate, everything they would have, they would just mainline chocolate if possible.

Jesse:

My wife’s a big fan of the red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Oh, there you go. Awesome.

Rob:

Strong candidate love it. Yeah. I thought you were. My favorite cocktail was that would have been a much more fun.

Kevin:

That was actually going to be my next question is what’s your favorite quarantini?

Rob:

Oh I’m a huge fan of the mezcal negroni right. So like a straight negroni, but sub mezcal for gin. That’s a good one.

Kevin:

Fancy.

Rob:

Yeah. It’s actually not, it’s only three things. Right. You need a little vermouth, a little Campari and a little mezcal and away you go.

Kevin:

I know, but I feel like anybody that does mezcal instead of tequila is automatically fancy.

Rob:

Oh, there you go. Yeah. Just a little bit smokier, that’s all. No big deal.

Kevin:

Cool, man. Well, let’s just jump into it. Yeah, I’m excited to learn a little bit more about what it was like at Subway, you know, when you started the idea of building a product organization wasn’t really around in the restaurant industry. So tell us what it was like building a product organization at the world’s largest restaurant organization.

Rob:

It was fun. I mean, it was exhilarating. It was a whirlwind, you know, it you know, we, we packed a lot into three years. It was probably the business three years of my life. Super rewarding when we were successful, we did get a fair amount of success. We, you know, new marketing automation platform, new rewards program, new mobile app, you be commerce website, integrated third part delivery, so on and so forth. So we built a lot and built out a whole team to do that product managers, UI, UX, architects, so forth. So that part was awesome. You know, any, any large organization comes with its own kind of bureaucracy and challenges as you guys know in some ways, no different there. So, you know, when you’re, when you’re leading a digital team in a kind of non digital first brand, or as part of a transformation, you know, there’s just all sorts of headwind, right. And it’s not even like intentional headwinds, it’s just, how do you figure out how to move this brand that doesn’t think digitally first towards that direction. So that was cool. I mean, the other thing I’d say is that Subway, you know, is a little unique maybe as opposed to some other legacy retail, just because it’s, it’s a franchise and brand and it’s, you know, 44,000 franchise locations. Right. So it had a, a large transformation to make, not just from, you know, retail, digital, but from like franchising to guest centric to digital, which is kind of a chasm. So it was fun and, you know, and crazy. And, you know, I think at some point we’ll talk about, you know, what, you know, products versus project and like, you know, what it means to have a kind of product mindset and building that culture around that at Subway. So it was cool.

Kevin:

Yeah. And you, you guys accomplished a lot. I think I remember L2 ranked you, at least in the top 10, if not, you know, around top five digital capabilities in the entire restaurant industry. So congrats, kudos. I mean, you guys did some amazing stuff.

Rob:

Top 6. Yup. That one felt good. You know, the, the founder of L2, actually Scott Galloway, who is like omnipresent right now, he’s on vice he’s on, you know, he’s got, he’s got his own podcast is actually a former professor professor of mine from NYU. Right. so yeah, so that was, that was cool. And we get, we didn’t have, you know, that the app does really, you know, relatively well on the app store and stuff. People seem to like it, it’s got a really unique kind of interactive customizer. That’s kind of more modeled after like a Tinder ask, like swipe left, swipe, right. Experience for building your sandwich. So that was fun to build and everyone hated it and then they loved it.

Kevin:

Nice. So, so tell us a little bit about like, you know, what was your organization like from a, you know, team and structure perspective.

Rob:

Yeah. so we had product managers, right. So, you know, product manager for the mobile app and a product manager for web and, you know, we even had product managers for our rewards program. Cause when it’s that new, you really need a product mindset to carry it forward. They were supported by business analysts built out eye UI UX team. So ahead of UI UX with visual designers underneath him and then digital architecture as things grew. And we kind of folded digital into the it organization. We also took on some like project and program management, portfolio management, service management types of stuff too. So that was cool and you know, big network of partners, which I think we’ll talk about kind of like, you know, what did we build versus what did we, you know, lean on our partner networks for

Kevin:

Yep. Jesse and I talk a lot about this and it’s somewhat nuanced, but you know, you mentioned program managers, product managers, project managers, you know, how do you define the difference between the two or I guess three of those different types of roles? Cause I think a lot of organizations, you know, only have one of those, those roles and they are, you know, fairly different for sure. And we could keep going with it.

Rob:

Right. Cause there’s portfolio. And I mean like, you know, you could, you could have managers of all different piece, you know, project management is the, is like the discipline that’s most well known, right? To like, to all of industry, including retail and projects have a start and a finish. Right. So, you know, if you’re going to go outfit your, your restaurant with you know, pickup cubbies that that starts and it ends, and then it’s done and you don’t really need to do anything significant from there, you know? And there there’s technology projects like that too, like system upgrades and stuff like that product mindset’s different. Right. So I would define a product as needing to evolve, to meet the needs of its user, you know, over a prolonged period of time and therefore needing some steward, who’s going to, you know, manage the product on behalf of its stakeholders and make sure that it evolves its features, its functionality to, to, to make sure that it’s satisfying. The people that depend on it. Right. So that’s the discipline, it’s this ongoing kind of like, how can I constantly make this thing better? Right. and when you got a mobile app was 4 million monthly active users, you definitely need to be doing that.

Kevin:

Totally. Yeah. Jesse, maybe you could describe a little bit about how we think about product management and project within our

Jesse:

Company halfway. Yeah. I mean, I think you hit the nail on the head. I mean, I think pro projects I was starting to finish and products are green. You know, I think when we look at it, we think of product managers is making decisions about what to do and what not to do based on some estimate or hypothesis on ROI vetted by capability of the systems that you’re integrating with. And and some aspect of understanding, you know, budget and timeline. And all of that, we look at project managers is actually cracking the whip, you know, making sure everybody’s moving in the right direction, making sure that, you know, various stakeholders are involved in hitting their, you know, hitting their obligations. You know, one of the things that we look at when we’re working with our clients is helping them make, build versus buy versus partner decisions.

Jesse:

So build is, you know, hire your own team, do it in house, or maybe you write your own in your marketing department or you do your own, you know, banner design or something by, you know, and we say by, we’d say, you know, you’re licensing some off the shelf software, whether it’s kind of SAS or you know, some sites, some kind of perpetual license you’re buying and the partner, you know, that’s kind of where we play with our clients is working with them to deploy something. Or maybe we’re splitting work. Maybe we’re doing engineering design, maybe they’re doing strategy. Maybe we’re doing, you know, the full boat, but how did you guys look at it at Subway? And, you know, did you always make the right decisions? There are, there’s some, some things that were maybe harder to walk back that you wish you would have done differently.

Rob:

Oh gosh. How long has this podcast? Yeah. I mean, yeah. You know, for sure, I, you know, for starters, you know, without overemphasizing the points, you know, Subway’s scale makes it a very unique beast, right? I mean 44,000 locations and the resulting transaction volume, you know, if, if you were, let’s say hypothetically going to RFP or custom built point of sale you, you might find that the whole middle tier of the point of sale market recused itself from the bidding process, right. And you really only have Oracle part NCR. And even those guys are like, we’re going to have to, to get globally every market, all the taxes, all the menu, configurations, all this stuff, we have to customize our off the shelf solution for you. So you might as well just build it right. Is yourself, is the point. So like the guts of Subway’s, you know, core kind of commerce tech are custom necessarily.

Rob:

Right. And which puts Subway in a very unique starting point. I think most of the rest of the retail market restaurant market is not. So, you know, there were, there were decisions to kind of, you know, custom POS stuck. There can’t really do anything else, custom eCommerce, that, that, that is one that, you know, we started with some legacy e-commerce tech and decided not to upgrade it and punt that piece and build a lot of digital marketing kind of stuff around it and new front end around it, which, you know, probably in hindsight actually set us back. Right. so that’s a big one. And then partner, I mean, I think, you know, obviously subway is unique, but you know, the kind of more medium-sized and smaller retail brands and ultimately I think enterprises too are really gonna benefit from that approach. For a hundred reasons, right?

Rob:

One, you know, partners like Hathaway and others have, have a really facile, contemporary understanding of all the tech partners that could be out there that could be plugged in. Right. And you’re never going to get that at a brand because they pick one, they stick with it and that’s all they see. Right. so that, that’s probably one of the biggest benefits. And also like, you know, it’s, it’s expensive to hire and you may not need all those things all the time. Right. So so they’re, they’re, you know, there’s, there’s all sorts of different approaches at Subway. It was mostly build a little bit of buy. And the buy approach frankly, was pretty fragmented, lots of point solutions which made, you know, the, which exacerbated kind of the problem with having all this big custom legacy tech and detect that that came with it.

Rob:

Let me pause there cause I could go on forever. Well, I do want to actually dig in a little bit more because I want to understand, you know, what capabilities do you think are important to own internally versus, you know, rely on third parties, whether it’s, you know, software or partners, you know, the reason I bring it up is we have some clients who digital is truly a part of their DNA and on the maturity curve, like they’re towards the innovation. And we have some clients who they really focus on their product and digital is just a means for connecting their customers with their products, but it’s not truly part of their DNA nor do they think it will be part of their DNA. And then we have some clients who think, you know, we want partners to own a lot of this technology and we need to own analytics, data and marketing communications.

Rob:

So there’s so many different you know, places where a brand can fit on this spectrum, curious, like, you know, what do you think Subway or not? What do you think brands need to own versus rely on third parties? For sure. I mean, you know, just starting with Subway, cause it’s the world I know of most closely. I mean, you know, certainly the more commodity, the less you need to own it. Right. I mean, like that’s a very easy kind of starting point, right? So, you know, straight up iOS dev is like hiring those people that doesn’t really make a ton of sense. Right. at subway we had a lot of kind of brain versus Brown discussion, right. It was like, Subway has brain’s quote unquote blues, quote unquote. And we’re gonna, we’re gonna lean on our partner network to do the kind of Braun part of like, you know, testing or QA.

Rob:

Right. You know, it’s like stuff that like, you know, why are those people right? So that those, those decisions are easy. I think, you know, your point Kevin, about how digitally native kind of is the brand is a really interesting one because like, if the brand is like a newer player, a newer retailer, that’s kind of building its brand around a digital experience, chances are, they have a lot of that or started with some of that talent. They’re already the people who don’t have that hiring that hiring talent is really, really hard. Right. And also really expensive. And the same affirmation point around chances are those people have only worked with a handful of the partner network. Right. so that’s where I feel like, you know, you want, you, you need that outside voice who understands not just one path to the top of the mountain, but all of the paths to the top of the mountain, particularly when you’re in a build state, right. When you’ve got a lot of work to do to get product off the ground, whether it’s, you know you know, digital marketing or sales from new sales channel, like mobile app or whatever it is doing that and making those early decisions around build buy, and what do we do without that outside voice can be very sticky and can paint you into corners. So that’s something I would advise against,

Kevin:

You know, restaurants is an interesting category when we started working you know, with restaurant brands five or six years ago, we noticed a pretty strong division between marketing and it and who owns digital. And, you know, over the years we’ve been able to kind of bridge that gap through some of our work you know, kind of across the Isles. How, how well did it and how well does marketing work at Subway? And have you seen that anywhere else? You know, we’ve just seen it in the industry so much.

Rob:

Yeah, I mean, I’ve seen it and, you know, I feel like I was kind of personally the victim of a three year custody battle. Like, you know, where does this thing fit? You know, and, you know, as I said, kind of, you know, I was, I was, I was catching up with my, my CIO at Subway, who I had a great relationship with. You know, when I was leaving and I was like, you know, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you put it. It needs to be everywhere. It’s a competence, right. It’s not a department. Right. So I think in the long run, these silos get broken down when people stop thinking about digital, like a department or a channel or something like that, and start thinking about it as every, every single department needs to have digital competence in it. Right. And it needs to be a mindset shift driven from the top. So that’s my answer on marketing technology is it’s bigger than that. It needs to be the whole company and this I’ve seen that, that kind of back and forth, where should it be play out many different times, many different ways. And my answer is it doesn’t really matter. It needs to be everywhere.

Jesse:

Yeah. I think the biggest thing now, I mean, I think, you know, over the last few years, if I feel like marketing and idea have gotten closer together, but you know, you got to bring operations into the fold too. I mean, talking to one of our clients technology executives today, and they’re working on a whole new everybody’s focusing on curbside and how do we make it as easy as possible to get the order fire to the kitchen at the right point in time. So the food’s ready when the customer gets there and how do we notify the store that the customer’s there without the customer needing to download some extra app or, you know, click a link in a text message or something, but you know, all of those things, I mean, at the end of the day, the food’s gotta be there. It’s gotta be ready, it’s gotta be fresh and it’s gotta be convenient for the customer. And if you’ve got to, you know, if you’ve got to wait in the same drive through line as everybody else, that’s not really, you know, incentivizing customers to use the digital channels. How did you partner with with, you know, operations and further, how did you actually partner with your franchisees to actually bring these solutions to life?

Rob:

Gosh, both of those are great questions, Jesse. I mean, you know, operations was, was, was a challenge and not because of the people in operations at Subway or anything like that. I think, you know, Subway was going through a major brand transformation at the same time. And that brand transformation included, for example, introducing a lot of new menu items that required our staff and, you know, inside of the walls of the restaurant to learn different procedures, make different through, to understand the supply chain differently, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So, you know, this is one of those, you know, I’ll call it a battle. You know, I’m using that term in the most friendly way possible where it’s like, you know, what’s more important carrying new products or being able to deliver the same product that you’ve been carrying in a new way. And I, you know, given kind of the economics of Subway and, you know, sandwich artists being kind of minimum wage workers, it’s really challenging to ask them to do both and doing both with priority. Right. So I think we struggled with that, frankly, Jesse. I mean, I think it was, it was, it was really hard for us to get, right. That was the first part of your question. Was there a second part? I’m trying to remember it

Jesse:

With ops to make sure the technology is actually implemented properly. And then the other one was a lot of times with our clients, it’s actually the franchisees and their funds directly paying for or indirectly paying for the innovation work. How do you get them involved? Is there a committee, is there a popular vote? Do you just hand it to the largest franchise, you know, group owners how’s how’s that work

Rob:

I asked? How could I forget your question? Yeah. So Subway being the, you know, one of the world’s largest franchise brands has a very unique situation because it’s got lots of kind of single unit or small multiunit franchise owners, right? It’s, you know, there’s less capital intensive to open a Subway than it is to kind of open a portfolio of McDonald’s or whatever other brands. And so, as a result, you know, you don’t have those, you do have those big guys who have like, you know, tons of Subways open and stuff like that. You can use them. We do, we did put them on panels. We did engage with them regularly. We have conventions where we interface with them regularly. So it’s definitely also like you can, there are times where we viewed them as an innovation arm, whereas corporate couldn’t, you know, build something in a fully integrated way as quickly as possible.

Rob:

We would test concepts and pilot them out with some of the bigger multiunit owners, especially the ones out there in California, actually, where you guys are who are some of the bests away owners. And you know, it, it’s challenging to engage that many people in a way where you can build a process that governs it well, right. I mean, like, particularly when you’ve got all the stakeholders and digital product as it is, right. So we did the things that you suggested or referenced, I should say, you know, we had, we had committees and we talked to them and we piloted things with them and made sure that we, at least weren’t going to Ram procedures down there, down there for us, that they couldn’t accommodate because that just wasn’t going to work for the guests. Right. Your franchisees were open to technology and open to, you know, online ordering delivery, you know, those sorts of things.

Rob:

Are they resistant or is it just kind of, you know, across the board, totally open to it and totally underappreciated the complexity of how to manage like legacy tech and get it done, right? Like, why can’t you just dump an iPad in Boston and everything works. Right. You know what I mean? So it’s, you know, it’s, it required, you know, a certain patients and bedside manner to be like, you know, we can’t do that tomorrow. It’s going to take time and, you know, there’s there also like a lot of great ideas that come from the field. Right. And any one franchisee that you’re meeting might have, might think that their idea is kind of like Z revolutionary idea that will turn Subway around. And so, you know, it, that, that part’s tricky, but I think there was no lack of enthusiasm or appreciation for digital whatsoever. Like everybody wanted to go. Everybody wanted to go faster.

Kevin:

Yeah. T tell us a little bit about like what change management programs to went along with all of these new digital technology initiatives that you were rolling out.

Rob:

I’m glad you asked that question, Kevin and a very direct answer would be not enough. You know, I D digital is changed for these organizations that are going through retail transformation and digital transformation. And I think we didn’t have a single change management titled person or consultant at Subway for the entirety of three years. Right. It’s one, it was one of the first things I noticed when I got there. I’m like, this is a lot of change. Some of these like back office, it, people are not interested in engaging with us, you know, have we thought about counseling them, or like figuring out how to bring people along for the ride and make this more of a cultural thing. And it’s just, it’s very expensive, right? I mean, that’s another cost on top of everything else, but probably one that has a strong ROI, I would love to talk to brands that have brought in like formal change management and seeing what their results were and talk to them about it. Cause it’s definitely something I’m curious about.

Kevin:

Yeah. I think down to the line worker is really important too. Right. You know, you roll out these new technologies that are consumer facing. You got a lot of hourly temp workers that, you know, if they don’t know how the systems work, they don’t know how the apps work. They can’t, you know, communicate to a customer what to actually do, let alone communicate the value proposition of it. So we’ll spend a lot of time with customers helping them understand that, you know, an app alone is not a strategy. There’s a whole lot that goes into it beyond just the actual technology and a big part of that is training your staff. So it can be effective in fields

Rob:

A hundred percent. Yeah. And, you know, training, I think, you know, the problem with training at Subway was always, it wasn’t that we lacked for production, materials and videos and like, you know, took usability seriously and took trying to engage, you know, field staff to understand how to use a mobile app and stuff like that. It’s just, you know, it’s like a tree falling in the woods when it’s like, if it’s like an intranet site or an email, ain’t nobody reading it. You know what I mean? So that was the hardest part. And I think know, I would be fascinated to talk to those brands that have taken kind of a more contemporary approach to staff training, you know, staff training tech, you know, like mobile messaging and stuff like that, because I really feel like that’s kind of the channel you need to be on to truly engage.

Kevin:

Ya, that or Tik Tok, right?

Rob:

Yeah, totally. We can do some of that. Now if you guys want.

Kevin:

So this is more of a philosophical topic, but I’d be curious to get your opinion on it. You know, we talked about this five years ago, you know, some of the first movers started getting into digital and technology today. The majority of say, at least the top 200 restaurant brands have at least digital ordering, probably a loyalty program, probably an app in the app store. You know, they’re starting to move down the maturity path. Does there ever become a point in time in which everybody’s kind of at an equilibrium and digital is no longer a differentiator?

Rob:

Wow. Awesome question.

Kevin:

That was deep, right? What I’m really asking is “am I going to be out of a job soon? ”

Rob:

No, I’m here to, I’m here to ensure your job safety, Kevin. Let’s take econ for example, like could core e-comm tech like shopping cart services and stuff like that, like someday become commoditized? Maybe.

Kevin:

Shopify is doing a pretty good job with it.

Rob:

Exactly, right? So like at the end of the day, like I need a shopping cart, I need to price stuff, need to add items, need to remove items. Like there’s like a very kind of laundry list of things that need to happen in that. And like, I could see kind of that being, if it isn’t already relatively commoditized. Right. yeah. A couple of things I would say that will, I don’t know if I want to be so bold as to say they’ll never be commoditized cause that’s like, Whoa. But some things I think that will remain differentiated for strong period of time. Like one, I think just about every brand should own its own digital ordering experience. Right? Maybe not on day one, right? Maybe, maybe on day one, they can’t afford you know, to kind of develop this custom experience with built around their products. And by the way, their product is different, which is why they need a different experience. Right. And if their product was the same as another brands, then they’d be commoditized at the brand level. Right. So, so I think, you know, certainly a white label approach to like get in the game, make sense to me, you know what I mean? Cause not, everyone’s gonna be able to dive fully into like building this totally crazy custom ordering experience, but like, you know, you really should have an experience that speaks to your product and your brand because without it, you know, you’re clearly your conversion is going to suffer, right? So that’s, that’s one area where I think you’re pretty safe to remain custom and differentiated. The other one for me is personalization. You know, I look at like the arguably the world leader in personalization and AI and eCommerce is Amazon, right? And if I log into Amazon and Kevin logged into Amazon and Jesse pulls up Amazon on his app maybe we see different recommended products. And certainly they’re great at that. And they’ve built a large business on it, but like, what else is unique about the ordering experience? Nothing. Right. Maybe that stays that way. Right. But if the world leader has a highly kind of commoditized, I’m going to call it experience that doesn’t have a lot of personalization in it. Clearly the rest of the world does has a lot of room to grow into it. Right. So, you know, I could imagine that future where, you know, I’m in the, I’m in an Uber with both of you guys and we all have our phones and based on the fact that our phones are close to each other and we know where we are and we know that we my ordering history and Kevin’s ordering history and Jesse’s order history that when I pull up my app, I got a different experience based on knowing that I’m with you guys. Right. So there’s a lot of dynamism around the actual experience and personalization that I think, you know, we’re, we’re five to 10 years squeezing all the juice out of that lemon.

Kevin:

Yeah. It, you know, an Amazon is amazing for a lot of reasons. I last year bought some new nightstands for my bed and in the recommendations section, it was like, Oh, you might also like these other 20 nightstands and lamps that would go on top of my nightstands. So you know, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Kevin:

So, so let’s let’s round this out. So we talked about what you built it Subway. And we talked a little bit about what we kind of see coming from you know, the future we are coming out of COVID, sort of, we’re still kind of in the middle of coming out of it, sort of what do you think the longterm changes to the restaurant industry are going to be as a result of this? What do you think will change for consumers, for operators, for brands? How does the world look in two years?

Rob:

So I think two categories, right? I think there’s those changes, which are really just which COVID to acted mostly as an accelerant for, and as a change agent. And those areas of how restaurants and retail change to which really, maybe they weren’t ever planning on doing that. So, you know, in the first bucket would be like e-commerce and contactless payments, right? We already talked about those two things, right. You know, those, the retail and restaurant was on a long, slow march towards that. And now with COVID, it’s much faster. And everyone’s been talking about that for six weeks, eight weeks, whatever it is now. So it’s like, you know, it feels like we all, are we already all agree that that all that behavior is going to stick. One thing I’ll say is that with curbside, I feel like a lot of the restaurant brands that are doing curbside well now are only doing it well, because they don’t have a parallel channel to support inside the restaurant. At the same time they pivoted their operational fulfillment to out of the restaurant. Right. So it’s like the tech is there now, right? There’s plenty of people doing location services and empowering a great experience. And maybe the consumer demand is there now. But once these restaurants have to juggle both channels at the same time, again, how are they going to do that? Do they have to hire more staff or are they going to have to integrate with new tech into their POS? Are they really ready for that? So that’s a big question that that’s like the accelerant one, which maybe isn’t truly an accelerant. The jury’s still out as would be curbside for me. You know, how a restaurant is going to temporarily change and then go back, you know, what, what are we going to shed? What won’t stick. I mean, like someday I hope, I think whatever it is, six, 12 months from now, 24 months from now, you know, in a world where it’s safe, we’re not going to have like little circles that, you know, distance of six feet apart, and maybe we’re not going to need glass and maybe, you know, in between us and the cashier and like physical distance, I think is a temporary thing. I mean, maybe in different industries, like airline, would they consider doing things like physically distancing people and maintaining some of that or adding filtration and stuff like that. I could see UV lighting persisting in restaurants, like those things, which are, that’s a capital investment, you kind of make it. And then you’re kind of like, you know, quote unquote inoculated forever. But from a consumer behavior perspective, it’s all the behaviors that people, you know, that the kind of early adopters and younger people were doing already, they just happen faster in my minds. And we kind of go back to quote unquote “normal”.

Kevin:

Yeah. I mean, I agree. I think this was just a huge accelerator for everything that already was coming, but it probably just wouldn’t have come for two to five years and now it’s happening overnight. And we’re seeing that in the demand for our business with our current clients, accelerating their investments in digital and new clients that, you know, we’ve been talking to in some cases for multiple years. And then as this hit, they really realized the gravity of not having a strong digital presence in place, you know, and here we are now all of a sudden we’re working together.

Rob:

Totally, absolutely.

Kevin:

Rob, thank you so much for joining us today. This was fantastic. We really appreciate your time. To everybody watching, thanks for tuning in to our episode of Beyond the Counter. Check in soon, we’ll have another episode coming out in the near future.

Rob:

Thanks guys. Big fan of Hathway. Thanks for having me.

Jesse:

There’s Rob, a bright guy, he’s got a lot of insight from Subway that I think is definitely valuable to pretty much any restaurant, especially in the larger chains. He’s got some unique challenges he mentioned about just the scale of Subway, demanding a different approach to technology, which I think is pretty interesting, a lot to learn there.

Kevin:

Yeah, absolutely. I loved kind of talking a little bit about the difference between product and project and even programs, right? These are all different, you know, nuances, but very different roles. And a lot of organizations are still trying to figure out how to implement these functions as they scale their digital capabilities.

Jesse:

Absolutely. Yeah. I’m going to get it pick up some that mezcal and some Campari. What are the other ingredients? Vermouth?

Kevin:

Yeah, it’s recorded though. So we can we can rewatch this and, and try it out sometime.

Kevin:

Yeah, absolutely. Luckily BevMo delivers.

Kevin:

Yes, clutch in quarantine. Thanks everyone for watching or listening. We’ll catch you on the next episode.

Producer:

Hey everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in today. You’ve been listening to Beyond the Counter, the podcast created, recorded and produced by the team at Hathway. Your hosts today, were Hathway CEO, Jesse Dundon and CMO, Kevin Rice. A big thank you again to a good friend, Rob Tedesco for his time and insights. Thanks again for listening, everyone stay safe and we’ll catch you on the next, Beyond the Counter.