Who the F@*% Doesn’t Love Toast? | Sam Zien (Sam the Cooking Guy) and Howard Solomon (Solomon Leaders) | DH066
Sam the Cooking Guy would like to propose a Toast.
Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien has nearly 2.4 Million followers on YouTube. He’s got tons to share about cooking, digital media, and creating a food empire. But for fellow restaurateurs he has one big piece of advice. It’s to invest in Toast.
No, we’re not talking about avocado toast, forgoing flatbread or any menu changes at any of Sam’s properties. Instead, we’re talking about Toast Point of Sale software.
“This technology will change how restaurants work,” forecasts Sam The Cooking Guy on this episode of the Digital Hospitality podcast. “There’s no question about that. The time to be thinking about this if you’re a restauranteur is now.”
Over the course of quarantine, Sam the Cooking Guy and his trusty business partner (and member of Team Cali BBQ Media) Howard Solomon have continued to march toward the future of food sales by integrating Toast’s terrific operating system.
For Sam and Howard, Toast POS is not just the future, it’s very important to survive in the now. That’s why Cali BBQ also replaced its longtime Aloha POS setup with the Toast POS system in 2020. It was a forward-thinking business decision that we couldn’t be happier about.
A Toast to Toast POS:
Sam Zien started thinking about Toast and pivoting his business in every way needed once the pandemic began. While Sam The Cooking Guy’s outspoken personality and charm has made him a star on YouTube (as well as a monthly guest on The BBQ Central Show), both traits remain the key ingredients Sam and his staff deliver in person.
Due to lockdowns and restrictions, Sam and Howard had to rethink just how their staff could connect with those customers from a distance.
“When COVID first hit, one of our biggest challenges was trying to offer a server that was sweet and kind and really cared but now with a mask on their face, you can’t see a smile,” recalls Sam. “So, we had to work on the staff. I mean, everybody’s had to learn how you can still have your personality come through, even though most of your face you can’t see.”
Thankfully for Sam and Howard, using technology like Toast allowed them to offer their same signature service in a manner that was safe and savvy.
By learning Toast inside and out, Sam and Howard were able to plug in personality for a checkout process both in person and online that was fun and functional.
Having a mobile-first ordering and payment platform is essential to becoming an e-commerce company. Toast provides your restaurant with an easy way for customers to conveniently order from you online. And the guest experience is just as fluid on a smartphone, as it is on a computer or tablet.
At Cali BBQ Media, we believe all businesses should be Hospitable and all businesses should be Digital. It’s why we call this podcast ”Digital Hospitality.”
“Eats by Sam would be a very different experience had it not been for Toast,” Sam Zien shares on Digital Hospitality. “It really would have. We can be quippy and we can be funny with Toast. We can make it feel more like us if it was us actually doing it.”
Excelling on Toast didn’t happen overnight. Sam and Howard spent eight hours a day early on in the pandemic learning the software for their staff and making it personal for their customers.
This learning curve should be noted, but it shouldn’t keep you from learning.
“For somebody that’s saying, ‘Oh, I like the idea of it,’ don’t expect that you will get it and it will integrate seamlessly to your business and you’re going to be a wizard with it tomorrow,” warns Sam. “That’s not going to happen. You’ve got to learn. Your staff has got to learn and then you have to teach your customer.”
Howard agrees with Sam’s sentiment.
“We all say it’s tough to catch up with technology,” begins Howard. “We’re in the technology world whether we like it or not. The great thing about Toast is that they are constantly evolving.”
The evolution internally at Toast has influenced the perspective on sales and service for Howard and Sam and it’s trickled down to their customer.
By enjoying the buying process through Toast, fans of Sam’s staple spots in San Diego are more likely to come back.
“The success really lies in the repeat customers,” notes Howard. “The customers who actually enjoyed having fun ordering their food came in at a time where they didn’t have to.”
Customers are enjoying using Toast, and they’re telling Sam and Howard all about it.
“It’s always a difficult challenge to get a positive review,” admits Howard Solomon. “It’s way harder to get a positive review because people just don’t take the time to say, ‘Nice job’ anymore. Who does that?
“But with Toast, there’s this feedback you get with a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, positive or negative. We had over 100 or so feedbacks in a week, of which 96 or 97 percent of them were positive, which is great, and it makes you feel good. But the negative ones, you’re able to respond right there on Toast with their virtual gift card, you’re able to send them an apology with a gift card. It’s amazing how quickly Toast is creating that speed for you. I mean, isn’t that what hospitality is?”
It sure is.
Eats by Sam:
Eats by Sam is a restaurant concept perfect for 2020. And Toast helps power the modern establishment for the future.
“In an era of face masks and sanitized environments, Sam the Cooking Guy and Grain and Grit Collective have teamed up once again to deliver great food and great vibes in store or straight to your home,” Eats by Sam declares on its website.
Eats by Sam is a multi-concept restaurant complete with a self-service ordering kiosk and on-site patio dining (on San Diego’s iconic Seaport Village waterfront), carryout, and delivery on all the major platforms (such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, and Grubhub).
Grain and Grit Collective is a San Diego-based hospitality group “dedicated to providing Southern California with the most compelling guest experience possible.” Eats by Sam is the third collaboration between Grain & Grit and Sam The Cooking Guy after the Little Italy Food Hall locations of Not Not Tacos and Graze by Sam.
Order #Samwiches and #Samburgers from Eats by Sam online at https://www.eatsbysam.com.
Who the F*** Doesn’t Love Toast?:
While Digital Hospitality is the name of the game – and this podcast – applying it’s principles by way of Toast is proving a win-win for customers and restaurateurs like Sam Zien and Howard Solomon.
“We’re doing 300 deliveries a week,” beams Howard Solomon about online ordering at Sam the Cooking Guy’s restaurant. “Among all those brands, we’re doing over 100 orders a week just on the Toast app when nobody’s in the restaurant. This is all digital sales. At the minimum, it is 100% an additional revenue stream for any restaurant out there.”
“Even if you don’t believe it’s the new thing, it is unquestionably an additional revenue stream and you have no idea the potential of it until you learn more about it and give it a whirl. It can add additional revenue without any additional labor if you do it the right way.”
Sam and Howard have a new tool in Toast and so do their customers.
For Sam The Cooking Guy, the latter is what it’s all about.
“If we’re not making our customer’s lives better on the other side then what’s the point?” asks Sam Zien. “Because they’re all we’ve got.”
-Article by Cali BBQ Media Content Producer Ian Stonebrook (@ianstonebrook)
Related Links —
- Learn more about Sam the Cooking Guy at: https://www.thecookingguy.com/
- Learn more about Solomon Leaders at: https://www.solomonleaders.com/
- Order Eats by Sam at: https://www.eatsbysam.com/
- Order Not Not Tacos at: https://www.notnottacos.com/
- Order Graze by Sam at: https://www.grazebysam.com/
- Subscribe to Sam the Cooking Guy’s Youtube Channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbRj3Tcy1Zoz3rcf83nW5kw
Digital Hospitality Online —
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