A local Indian restaurant chain has been implementing new technology to streamline operations and better service customers, and there are plans for more, including a dedicated mobile app – all while it is currently under expansion.

Tiffin, which first opened in 2007 in Northern Liberties, has grown to nine locations throughout the Philadelphia region, with more on the way after owner and CEO Munish Narula decided to franchise.

The first franchised location is targeted to open sometime this year. The company and the franchisee have already agreed on the terms, and locations are being scouted, including areas on the Main Line.

The plan is to grow “close to home” first, Narula said.

The Wharton School MBA grad last September closed his Tashan Restaurant & Lounge after four years in operation in order to focus on Tiffin’s growth.

“It’s a business decision,” Narula said last year after opening three Tiffin locations in New Jersey. “We have increased the Tiffin business significantly. … That is clearly our path to regional, national and even international growth.”

Narula now plans to re-introduce Tiffin as a restaurant concept driven by multiple categories, including technology.

Streamlining business

The food-delivery business makes up 65 percent of sales in some Tiffin locations, and Narula found the traditional point-of-sales technology, or POS, was causing disruptions and delays.

Now the company is running on a new Cloud-based POS system that doesn’t require proprietary hardware, giving Narula and store managers the ability to watch the progress of every order in every restaurant in real time, including walk-in orders, carry-out and delivery.

When a customer places a delivery order online, the information goes directly to the kitchen of a specific Tiffin restaurant based on the origin of the order, which the software automatically determines.

“From a business function cost standpoint, this system is revolutionary, literally giving us the capability of running our entire POS system with thousands of orders a week on the most basic PCs or even standard tablet devices and smartphones,” Narula said.

To handle the growing phone orders, the company is building a call center in the former upstairs dining room in Northern Liberties. It’s slated to open in September.

Once it’s open, all phone orders from the Tiffin restaurants will be handled by call center associates, allowing the restaurant staff at each individual location to focus on food production and eat-in service priorities, Narula said.

Mobile app & rewards program

The restaurant group has the goal of “bringing people together with tech,” Narula said, so the company is also developing a mobile app for Android and Apple customers.

Instead of just including the menu and contact information, Tiffin’s app will include the ability to place orders; track your delivery driver — think of it like Uber’s tracking system; and a yield management-type of function for the restaurant in which users will get notifications on their phones when sales are taking place, including when it’s raining outside, to get them through the doors.

An exact launch date has not been set, but Narula said the app could launch by the end of August.

Tiffin’s rewards program, which launched less than two months ago, has already been a proven revenue driver for the restaurant concept, which saw a 14.5-percent, year-over-year revenue increase since it launched.

The rewards program works like a cash-back program. Among other ways to get money back, customers can get 10 percent back when they place an order on the Tiffin website.

The company will eventually roll out the rewards program for walk-in and dine-in guests.

Technology side, Narula said the goal is to create a company based on value since customers expect to get value when they enter a food-and-beverage establishment, Narula said.

The technology will be a way to help enhance the company’s value.

Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based Saladworks is also exploring new technology to bring into its stores and operations, including the possibility of adding touchscreen kiosks.

Original Article: https://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/news/2016/07/14/tiffin-indian-food-franchise-mobile-app-nolibs.html
Author: Kenneth Hilario