A podcast that feeds food & beverage brands

Ep 69: Caroline Skinner / COO of Tupelo Honey

Watch the episode
It’s no secret that attracting and retaining high-quality employees is one of the restaurant industry’s biggest challenges. Caroline Skinner knows that. She’s also leading the way at Tupelo Honey when it comes to implementing industry-leading hiring practices and building a strong, hard-working and happy employee culture.  In this episode, Caroline shares tips for how to build employee support programs that work, how to use technology to build stronger relationships with customers and one of the most effective ways to communicate with younger employees. 

Listen Now

Forktales
Forktales
Ep 69: Caroline Skinner / COO of Tupelo Honey
Loading
/

Show Notes

Caroline serves as Chief Operating Officer of Tupelo Honey and is a champion of high-growth, employee-centric workplaces. She joined the company as part of the initial senior leadership team in 2013. 

In Caroline’s nine-year tenure, she has been responsible for Tupelo Honey’s workforce expansion efforts, founding and leading its human resources and training teams and growing the brand from two locations and less than 100 employees to 22 locations and more than 15,000 employees. 

Tupelo Honey’s goal is to be at the forefront of the employee experience and at the forefront of what can be the new experience for restaurant workers. 

Sixty percent of Tupelo Honey’s management positions are filled from within the company. .

Like a lot of restaurants, many Tupelo Honey managers started as servers or dishwashers, which helps them relate to entry level employees and makes them better managers. 

Communications methods like text alerts for younger workers (instead of email) work well for Tupelo Honey and its employees. 

It’s important for companies to initiate conversations with employees about culturally significant events that might impact employees, even if those conversations are difficult to have. Those conversations build trust with employees and show that a company cares. 

QUOTES

 

“The restaurant industry is being required to level up in how we’re looking at the employee experience.” (Caroline)  

“We have to add the human element back (in restaurant employment) and care about people holistically. They have a life outside of work and they want support beyond just a paycheck.” (Caroline)

“Entry level workers want to stay. They want a path to grow their careers.” (Caroline)

“Younger workers and millennial workers learn differently. We’ve had to recognize that there’s a different way to communicate with them.” (Caroline) 

“Every employee is different and restaurants can’t have a one-size-fits-all program. You have to have options for everyone.” (Caroline) 

“What we do is simple. At the end of the day, it’s about one guest, one relationship and one experience.” (Caroline) 

TRANSCRIPT

00:00.00

vigorbranding

Everyone today I’m joined by my new friend Carolyn Skinner she is the Ceo so Ceo oh not yet although Carolyn there has been a history of people on this show getting rapidly promoted. So don’t want to dangle the carrot it could happen.

 

00:10.69

caroline

Hello that.

 

00:14.32

vigorbranding

Ceo of tupalo honey which we’re going to dig into the concept a little bit throughout this episode talk a lot of other things as well for now Carolyn say hello and give a little backstory.

 

00:24.80

caroline

Yeah, thank you Joseph for having me. Um I am Caroline Skinner chief operating officer I am a native of Asheville North Carolina which is also the home. Um, an original location for Tupelo Honey um and our restaurant brand has been around for about 20 years we really started to grow in the last ten years I’ve been with the company for 10 years and seen pretty much all of the last twenty of our 21 locations launch in open so I’m really happy to be here.

 

00:53.85

vigorbranding

I awesome yeah and I appreciate you taking the time out so we work together put together an awesome production sheet I think there’s so many great things to talk about and then Harvard business review came up with their new episode episode issue and these have a fantastic article in here called. Ah, the high cost of neglecting low-wage workers and I think there’s no better outline to kind of go off of here because tuplelo how has been doing such great things that I think you’re actually tackling a lot of these challenges. But I think we want to know more Um, and so. I think this might be a better outline and so I’m going to throw a ringer at Caroline today and she has approved this ringer. So what I’ll do is I’ll lift list off the challenges or the or the misconceptions and let’s just pick them apart together. Um, so the 6 here number 1 is. Restaurant leaders. Don’t realize that low-age workers really want to stay with them number 2 is they underestimate the importance of location and stability they meaning restaurant leaders 3 restaurant leaders underestimate workers goodwill 4 they leave workers to initiate create ah career discussions five they disregard low-wage workers strategic importance and then the final one is failing workers on 3 things that matter the most which is mentorship career pathways and guidance on learning and development so that is quite.

 

02:23.60

vigorbranding

Ah, strong list of issues that is a far cry from the they want paid more money. Ah Narrative which obviously we’re very well-versed in so clipping at number one here. How how do you approach realizing that low-wage workers. Actually want to stay with the company. They don’t want to leave How do? How do you tackle that.

 

02:45.25

caroline

Yeah I mean for us and I think so let’s just talk about the the industry in general I think our industry has gotten a bad rap and especially in the last three years when you talk about people having having options the gig economy whether that’s you know the. Car drivers. Um, you’ve got people like Amazon coming out and really these entry workers are getting targeted from from lots of other industries and the industry as a whole the restaurant industry I think is being required to level up in how we’re looking at the employee experience. For us at Tuplelo and just a little bit more about my background actually started with the company in human resources was the first hire had a closet office and it was just sort of like we need to figure this out. Ah and we really wanted and I say as a small. Company at even at the time you know we we always functioned. It’s a small but mighty big ideas and we were at the forefront of a lot of the farm to table movements early in Ashville and when I came on really the task was we want to be ah at the forefront of the employee experience. Um and we want to be at the forefront of. What we believe can be the new experience for the restaurant worker that was ten years ago and we were doing things that nobody had even heard of um, like coming up with a program. We called our fair start wage program and it was um it was base wages but it was wages with insurance for tip workers so you would never as a tip worker.

 

04:16.12

vigorbranding

Um, blue.

 

04:17.39

caroline

Have to worry about getting stiffed by and a customer and that affecting your take home pay. You could never go below a certain threshold and we were doing that you know ten ten years ago and we had things like our honey pot program and it was more of a it’s a lifestyle benefit where. You can dip into the pot for everything from tuition reimbursement if that’s where you are in life to um, paid parental leave if you’ve got children and a family and I think the industry did ah it was challenged at the time about you know. Work is very transactional. You come in, you get your tips you go home and you do your part I do my part and and we we go our separate ways. Um, but where we saw the trend of the industry going is you know we have to really add the human element back and care about people holistically. Um, that they have a life outside of work that they want support beyond just a paycheck and so I think going back to the the heart of that question. Ah these entry level workers. They want to stay. They want a path to grow their careers and when you start really valuing. Them as humans and their experience in in the work as you know we’re taking care of them and their life. It’s not just about the time that they’re here. We’re giving them options to go out and whether that’s raise a family whether that’s pursue education whether that’s.

 

05:41.74

caroline

Just offsetting things like transportation cost. That’s ah, that’s a real thing and and they’re looking for those options so meeting them where they are but but knowing that every employee’ is a little different so you can’t have a 1 size fitts all program that says. You know here’s the magic bullet for a great employee experience. You have to have options for everybody.

 

06:01.21

vigorbranding

Yeah I love that I love the idea that honey pot as well I presume that the honey pot was probably handcrafted by one of the employees because you are in Asheville if you know you know? Um, so there’s I’m sure there was a potter on staff. It’s like no literally I’m going to make a honey pot. Um, that’s right.

 

06:14.26

caroline

Honey back.

 

06:18.31

vigorbranding

So I love I love that approach. Um, and in rethinking the employee experience I think one one of the issues that a lot of companies across many industries have is that they have these this suite of we’ll call them low-age workers I hate we got to think of a better name entry level. Um. And and 1 or two start to rise to the top with their work ethic with their ability to follow procedures and those folks usually get put on a track to management. Um, if it’s not carefully crafted if if they’re not given the opportunity to ah be educated and trained on what management is. I think you see a lot of flailing at that level meaning this third issue is um or fourth issue as you say is leaving workers to initiate career discussions when you start putting on that managerial hat the responsibility is not only ensuring that everyone’s following procedure. Not only is it scheduling and I don’t want to give anyone a ptsd here because we can go down the list. Of all the managers roles but it is to start to guide the new crop of entry level workers on their paths. Whatever they may be how how have you tackled that um issue of making sure that managers are not just trained for the um. The day-to-day grind side of things but the actual like how am I going to foster these people’s careers. So.

 

07:36.48

caroline

Yeah, well I think it’s first and foremost just culturally ingrained in every single one of our managers cause they’ve experienced it. Um I can think of so many of our general managers today. The average tenure of our general managers is is six years and we’ve only been growing for 10 so that. Says to you most of them have been been here for a large part of our growth and many of them started as servers. Many of them started as cooks or dishwashers. Um, so for them, they’re sharing their story which is um for these injur entry level workers. Hey I was in your shoes I started as a server and I didn’t I didn’t actually see this as a career path but I’m now I’m a general manager of this company now I’m a regional director of this company and so and we even have kind of the nontraditional pass as well because we’ve had the benefit of being ah a startup company and now we have. Ah, we call it our hive. We. We don’t like the term corporate office but we have workers who facilitate different departments so we have people in it that started out as servers we have people in our construction department that started out in the kitchen and it’s I think it’s very very culturally rooted in the leadership of our company that. This topic of growth that that you can aspire to be just about anything in a company like ours and your your career path is actually a path. This is. It’s not just a dead end job. It’s not just ah, a means to an end and if it is that’s okay, um, but they’re seeing examples real time of.

 

09:09.29

caroline

People that are around them and that they’re working with on a regular basis that that were exactly where they were not that long ago.

 

09:16.94

vigorbranding

It yeah and so I think one of the things that happens too. Well, there’s a good stat here 60% of your management positions have been filled from within the company I mean that’s practicing what you preach really starts to make a statement. It’s not a dangled carrot. It’s not ah well if you work real hard for 35 years maybe you’ll be able to wash lettuce now. Um.

 

09:34.19

caroline

Um.

 

09:34.57

vigorbranding

You know? but I think one of the issues that managers come up across too is ah that lack of training leading to burnout and frustration and early departure. Um how how have you guys tackled that how have you made sure that they’re supported and that they have the right training.

 

09:49.85

caroline

Yeah, we we come at it from all angles and really when you’re talking about entry level workers. Especially younger workers millennial workers. They they learn differently and so we’ve had to recognize there’s a different way to communicate with them. Um, we’ve a we’ve actually just started. Um, a text alert system that’s automated so that they get different ah pings at different points in their employment experience. So on day one we’re saying hey did you realize you’re you’re eligible for all these benefits on 3 day 3 we’re checking in with them. How’s your training going and they love that because they can engage real time and it’s like wow. Someone’s asking me about my feedback somebody cares enough to share this with me but it’s not in the like hey let’s send them an email and hope that they read it because this generation is not is not what they’re doing so I think it’s meeting them where they are with communication but it’s also very multifaceted when it comes to training so within this industry. Um, it is fast. It is a lot of on-the- job learning and you know we’re not expecting for people to sit in front of a computer for 10 hours and then be equipped to do the job. Um, so we’re hitting them with you know micro learning bite size learning. But then we’re also saying okay, let’s apply this in the real world. Let’s get some hands-on learning. Um, surround them with trainers. We invest really heavily in trainers whether that be in the location when we’re doing a new restaurant opening actually bringing trainers from all across the country kind of the best of the best to say you know we’re gonna work alongside you and make sure that you’re you’re equipped. But then the third thing I’ll say and I think this.

 

11:24.33

caroline

Maybe hits on a nerve within the industry I think there’s been historically just workers that have ah had a harder time rising through the ranks and you know we see we see that with females. We see that with people of color and we’ve created a program specifically and we call it our aspire program to. Take those underrepresented people who have historically had harder time and maybe haven’t historically had the mentorship or the support system we put them through a fifty two week mentorship program it’s designed for high potential people. It’s designed for people that are. Historically underrepresented in the industry and we give them a 1 ne-on-one coach mentor um so they’re getting leadership development via the coach. They’re also getting group learning sessions so they meet and they cover topical sessions and are really kind of a way to to unite high potential leaders across the company. We use Zoom and we use technology to facilitate all of this. But um I think a lot of times the industry has ignored those people who are underrepresented or hasn’t made an intentional effort to promote them and that is something that we’re being very intentional about and we’re actually saying you know, no no, we want a diverse workforce because we. We serve a diverse customer base and and we want representation from all walks of life and so we’re specifically targeting those people and saying like hey we’re going to invest in you to have a coach to have a mentor to really raise you up and the promotion rate out of that program is about 75% so when we put people through it. They get this.

 

12:54.71

caroline

This personalized custom coaching. They’re better equipped to to take on new roles in advance.

 

13:01.22

vigorbranding

Yeah, it sounds like I mean you’re you’re hitting that last um, that number 6 pretty hard which is the mentorship. There’s clear career pathways and there is guidance on learning and development and and those 3 are the keys I think above all else. But I think it’s also interesting. Is you know, unpacking the um the the you know the perceived ceiling that a lot of under. So I mean a lot of underserved communities are facing I wonder how much of that is a result of the human nature to simply just identify with people that act like you. Look like you and things like that. Ah, meaning that requires some different kind of like education and training. It’s not just identifying high potential. It is um, hey this person may be different for me in every single way but man they are checking. Box a b c d and e for being a really good manager even though we may not get along I mean we get along. But and I mean like we’re not going to go out. We’re not going to have a beer. We’re not going to hang out and we don’t have shared interests but boom how do you How do you start to even chip away at um, polishing those skills because they’re they’re so nuanced.

 

14:12.85

caroline

Oh yeah, it’s absolutely true and I think validated with research that that we hire people that are like us or we gravitate towards hiring people that are like us and so I think first is awareness and we’ve made a very intentional effort to have diversity training up front. But also then it comes back to exactly what you referenced having clear checkpoints for what is what does the skill set look like not the personality. Not the you know, but they talk like me or act like me. What’s the skill that we’re looking for to identify. And then being able to say yeah, you’ve achieved this milestone or if you haven’t having conversations about why where you are and how you can get there. We do that because our kitchens are so scratch made one of the most important roles in our company is our executive chef and. Um, we do this on ah on a regular basis and we’re hoping to do it even more frequently where we go through and ah assess our chefs where they are in every skill set and we but we develop that skill set based off our most successful chefs. And we said you know what do you have what percent of these skills. Do you have what percent. Do you not have and then we’re going to continue to talk about the ones that you don’t until you know you’re you’re fully where we need you to be.

 

15:34.39

vigorbranding

So Yeah I Love that So I Think what’s interesting is how do you start to break that inclination. Overall you know in my head there. There are some easy easy or what seem to be easy paths which is um if you look like x. I’m going to pair you with everything not X if you look like y same path and so I think that’s a nice one step but I think any any progress as a um company as a team as a society which we don’t need to get into that bigger one is feeling like you’re safe to express your thoughts. And I think that starts by creating a place that is um I hesitate to use the word safe because I think it’s been overused in the wrong ways. But um, a place of shared interest that is not aligned with your personal values. But a shared interest of common growth and and coming to understanding um is that in the top of your mind is that like kind of boiling in there as you think about these programs.

 

16:40.86

caroline

Yeah, and I think it’s something um you know that when we are, we’re facilitating communication. We’re facilitating. Programs being really intentional but it’s something that that really flew in the face of I think this industry even through the pandemic when you talk about the conversations that were spread around George Floyd and um just diversity in general in this country people of color and the challenges that they had and. We we stepped into those conversations and it it wasn’t always graceful and it wasn’t always perfect. But I can tell you that our people and I heard some examples even recently um, our people appreciated the fact that you’re acknowledging a moment that. Is impactful for our country impactful for everyone but specifically impactful and especially hard for a certain group of people and sometimes it’s just picking up the phone and saying are you? Okay, you know I see you I acknowledge you I acknowledge what’s going on right now and it’s ah it’s a hard time. Um, but Pat. Ah, rather than just ignoring the sentiment and and and we’ve I’ve spoke with leaders in our company who were like you know previously in my work life. It was like it’s not happening. We’re going to ignore it. We’re not going to talk about it but having the boldness encouraged to say wow this is.

 

17:58.45

caroline

This is a thing that’s happening. It’s a hard thing and and we’re gonna talk about it. We’re gonna check in with you. We’re gonna make sure you’re okay, um, that goes so far and especially when we’re talking about these entry level workers because you know they’re carrying weight that a lot of times we don’t realize and you know just giving them the benefit Of. Um, acknowledging sometimes that you know things can be hardened. There’s burdens that we may not know that they’re carrying Um, that’s compassion. That’s empathy, but that’s also great leadership and I think again the restaurant industry is being challenged more than anyone and we were on the front lines of pretty much everything when it came to the pandemic. But. But these really hard Conversations. We were on the front line of and I think you’re seeing the companies that did that well and that really entered into those conversations and were brave enough to enter into the conversations. Um, and maybe they didn’t always do it perfectly and they didn’t always have you know the perfect thing to say but they were they were bold enough to to step into it. Um, they’re earning trust and they’re earning respect from those workers and that goes back to kind of who we are just being absolutely authentic and and being able to you know, navigate these things the best we can with mutual understanding for our employees but also Mutual respect that we’re learning things from them that you know. They’re helping us as as we go through this journey too.

 

19:16.88

vigorbranding

I yeah I love that I mean because it wasn’t for everyone I mean we we were we were on the front lines or maybe not the front lines we were in the back office from you know the backlines um of everything that was happening with the pandemic everything that was happening with ah the the George Floyd um tumult I’ll just call it that. Um, and in some cases some of our clients were just ill ah illrepared and ill-equipped and honestly shouldn’t have had a voice in it. But what you said I want to reiterate because I think that’s an important approach which is it started by picking up the phone and talking to the people internally not. Putting the black box on your Instagram and saying oh that’s done um and and having just say hey we’re here for you. We understand as much as we can understand we are a company after all that makes a lot of sense and I think that empathy lever is um.

 

20:07.93

caroline

Um, to you are.

 

20:12.26

vigorbranding

Oftentimes not easily pooled for some of the leadership that we have in the industry and across all industries for that matter. But it’s also it can be a bit of a dangerous one because you can almost empathize too much. Um, where the person’s like okay I’ve heard you let it go. Ah I want I Want to get back to work I Want to focus on my career kind of thing. Um.

 

20:24.69

caroline

Um, yeah, yeah.

 

20:31.61

vigorbranding

And I like that you brought it back to the entry levell workers because I think there is there. There’s 2 narratives at play right now that I see the one that is most prevalent is there’s a bunch of people who want pay too much to do an entry-level job and they don’t want to work and I think there are representation. There’s representation of that we see it right. Um, but I think some of that issue starts with devaluing um the insane strategic importance of to use a term that you probably never want to use in your company drones or worker bees right? Like you’re so much more than that just because your entry level and so I think if the.

 

21:05.99

caroline

Um.

 

21:10.37

vigorbranding

If The script is flipped. It’s like wait a second. How can we treat these folks better and show them that entry level is a label that can easily dissipate with us. Um, how how have you approached the messaging around that. Because when when you’re talking of bringing folks through the system. It’s Easier. You have a direct line of communication when you’re trying to draw them in.. How do you pass the smell test with some of the messaging. How do you get them to believe you and outside of word of mouth of course because that’s a different type of marketing.

 

21:42.91

caroline

Yeah I mean I think for us there as we grow you know in more business like you said they you know we we still have metrics. We still have ah objectives that we’re targeting in all of our. Restaurants and we’ve been quite successful at it. We’re industry leading and a lot of those metrics. Our average restaurant volume is 4000000 and we’re hitting on some of these industry-leading aspects of why we’re growing and how we’re growing um and and that also comes with. You know a little bit of skepticism from employees. Okay, well, you’re growing and um, but what’s in it for me and so I think we’re coming back to obviously proving that out with employees is you know, putting your actions. Ah. To work and and for us right now. All of our profits are going back into the company. So yes, they’re funding great metrics and great results but they’re also funding jobs and opportunities and so our employees are seeing on a regular basis. Ah, new positions created new locations created. We’re entering into new markets where there’s jobs. Um, and I think getting a lot of credibility from that first and foremost. But then we also you know we’re we’re giving back to and yes, we’re a for- profit business and yes you know we’re focused on our profitability. But.

 

23:05.45

caroline

Um, heart and soul behind what we do is our people is our employees and that’s hospitality so they have to be bought in that we trust we empower we believe in them. Um, we launched our biscuits for a cause fund just as an example during the pandemic and this program really was kind of It was you know pandemic was worst case scenario for us. Um, 95% of our sales dropped in a matter of a day when our business was relegated to takeout and we were in that moment I very clearly remember sitting in our senior team meeting and sort of wrestling with what is next. And you know there’s all the decisions like technology and to go and we turn on all these things and um, you know, really pivoting our entire business model but the very first conversation was how do we take care of our people and what does this look like because clearly we can’t run a business. Where 95% of our sales are down and keep all of these people. How can we still take care of them. Um, so in the midst of of furloughing our employees. We also said um, we’re going to look at our business and while we are making little to no profit. Let’s figure out a way that we can create a fund for our employees and. You know the magic of the biscuit appeared at that moment where we said we’ve been giving away this item on our menu for forever. Um, we’re gonna go to to go. We don’t even know if people always want biscuits when they’re ordering to go so let’s put a price on it but instead of just putting a price. Let’s put a.

 

24:19.50

vigorbranding

Are.

 

24:36.72

caroline

And opportunity and so um, we said you know profits are gonna from the biscuit are going to go to our employees. We’re also going to put a donation line because we knew it was heavy on everybody’s mind industry restaurant as a whole was Struggling. So. Um, it started right there that you know we were taking this one item and we were sort of converting it to say we want to give this back to our employees. Um, and when we did you know we we had no idea how it was going to Catch. Um, it’s.

 

25:06.72

caroline

We didn’t really even know how the biscuit would sell because we’d never sold it before we didn’t know if it was going to be a popular item to sell um so started selling them started selling them and take out and the whole thing just sort of caught fire and guests loved it. Employees Loved it. They loved to people to talk about a fun that.

 

25:11.17

vigorbranding

Um, right? yeah.

 

25:25.26

caroline

Goes directly to their benefit. Um, and to date it’s it’s generated $600000 so I think that’s where that’s where like you can be a business and you can still do good for your people um, get them to buy and get them to believe in that. But also let you let your action speak for that.

 

25:28.69

vigorbranding

Oh God I Love that? yeah.

 

25:39.65

vigorbranding

Hundred percent yeah I love that story and I think telling that story is so incredibly important because it really is the actions and and we say that a lot to our clients is that we can spend here all day Nalgas we can pretend to build a thing we can talk about it in new ways. But if you’re not doing it if you’re not if you’re not able to actually show it. It’s really going to fall flat. Um, and it’s going to prevent growth right? So it looks like there’s very measurable ways that you’ve built people up from entry level to new positions that open up as well as leadership positions you yourself being representative that going from the um.

 

26:16.33

vigorbranding

I’m going to say something that I will I promise you I will not make it your title the Harry Potter of ah hr in the closet up to you know where you are today. Um, you know and and these other paths as well and so that has it looks like it’s spawned a lot of growth so we’re at 23 locations now.

 

26:23.14

caroline

Um, yeah, yeah.

 

26:35.59

vigorbranding

And the goal is to be at 38 by 2025? Um, obviously good strong hr internally helps with that. What are some of the other keys in your mind that really help to create strong sustained growth meaning how do we. Expand doubt without having to retract and.

 

26:55.68

caroline

Yeah, um, we like to say it’s it’s what we do is simple at the end of the day. it’s it’s about 1 guest. It’s about 1 relationship and 1 experience and if we can have that mindset when we’re in the restaurant and even when we’re talking about growth you know, doubling. Your growth in 3 years sounds insurmountable, but really, it’s about the guests that walk into our door and having that relationship and having that experience with them each and every time and so um, we kind of like to take it down to the smallest possible level and view it from. Okay, you know, let’s. Let’s let’s double our growth. But um, how do we do that to each and every guest that comes in and how do we ensure that that experience is exactly the way we want it every single time and I think there’s several components to that. Um foundationally training and making sure that you’re hiring the right people. Um, but beyond that once you do that I think there is a big component that is partly empowering them to do the right thing they know the brand they’ve had the training. We’ve talked about that already. But I think what we’ve created for. Our restaurants is we want you to be local in every market. We want you to know your market. This is not a you know cookie cutter brand and if if you couldn’t tell we’re in locations from Boise idaho to Myrtle Beach South Carolina so so the brand resonates but we can’t.

 

28:23.79

caroline

Expect that tupalo honey boise is going to look the same as tupalo honey myrtle beach and every community has a unique um and unique feel. A unique employee base and so we want our managers to be empowered to have that local feel that’s also very authentically tupalo being being Asheville um. You know we have that independent spirit and we’ve always had that independent creative spirit so we want our managers. We want our team to still be who they are within their community. Um, and just 1 example I’ll I’ll tell you of how we create the guardrails but also empower them to do what they do locally. We have a program called the 1 guest program. It’s it’s right off that slogan 1 guest 1 experience 1 relationship? Um, and we use a little bit of technology so behind our host stand. We sort of power it with guest frequency information so we can see when guests are coming in. And know when a guest walks in that is ah a regular. This program is designed to really recognize our regulars in the moment. So the host Dan will throw up a little flag that might say Joseph’s coming in and he’s been here 6 times in the last six months so he’s your he’s a regular vip. Which alerts our managers to say wow this is somebody that really we should value that is ah is a loyal guest. Um, and we have a program behind that right? It’s our worn guest program comes with a little gold coin. The manager can actually go up in the moment talk to that guest and say Joseph I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you for being a regular.

 

29:55.88

caroline

We want to invite you to our 1 guest program and with that comes you know free apps, a secret menu item. Lots of goodies but at the end of the day. What’s really important about that program is the relationship that that manager just built with that guess sure there’s technology sure there’s a program behind it. But the power of being recognized in the moment as a guest and and having someone actually know without you knowing that they know that you’ve been there that you’ve invested your money there and that that you care enough to keep showing back and then taking time in that very moment to say hello to say. Thank you That’s really powerful and and those are the hospitality moments that we’re trying to create and and I think that’s what people want more of they want less of the loyalty emails and they want less of the you know how many places can somebody hit me over the head with your brand message. Um, but they want more of those authentic. In-person relationship driven moments where you know I value you as a human coming into my restaurant spending your time spending your heart on money and that’s just an example of a tool and a way that we empower our managers to say you know you are local. You are myrtle beach tupalo honey. And and it’s not too below honey the the 22 location brand. It’s too below Honey Myrtle beach because I know Patrick and he’s the general manager here and he came in and talked to me today. Um, so I think that’s that’s a little bit of why and how we’re growing. Um.

 

31:21.00

vigorbranding

Um, right.

 

31:28.81

caroline

We want it to be. We want it to be local. We want it to be unique in every market and we’re trying to create systems that allow managers not to reinvent the wheel but but to be local to be authentic while also still kind of operating into the Twolo Honey umbrella.

 

31:44.68

vigorbranding

Yeah I Love that example as Well. I mean there’s a lot of discussions around ah the coldness of technology and how you can strip out the human touch and the hospitality of the whole thing and that’s a good way of using technology as what it’s supposed to be which is ah a tool. It’s um, a way to make things better. Doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t use it to um to streamline systems like I’m a big proponent of Kiosks I think they’re fantastic I’m also a big proponent of having someone next to the kiosk to make sure people aren’t getting tripped up and make sure that there is a human touch and so I love that? um.

 

32:09.35

caroline

Are.

 

32:19.96

vigorbranding

So this has been absolutely fantastic I think I have to hit you with 1 final probably the toughest question in the world which is if you had 1 final meal. Um, and wait times were not a factor. What would you eat where and why.

 

32:35.97

caroline

I love this question. Um, so this one’s a little nostalgic for me because it’s not a meal that I would can go to a restaurant and get but um, it would have to be my grandmother’s new year’s day meal and just a little southern. Southern ah information that you can learn in the south. We’re super superstitious about days like new year’s and so the whole meal revolves around certain little traditions but my grandmother was an amazing cook. Um, so you would always have collards and colards represent your money. You would always have black eyeed peas and that represents luck and then you would always have some kind of pork but she did an amazing fried pork chop and that was supposed to represent like prosperity and progress and so to me that’s the perfect southern meal and. My grandmother is no longer with us every year I try to replicate that meal and it’s just not quite right? So I would I would pay a lot of money to get the opportunity to eat that meal again and see you know that I would wait time I would pay money I would do all the things.

 

33:43.79

vigorbranding

Um, I absolutely love that. Yeah, it’s a fantastic answer and one of the things I love about that question in general is the broad diversity of answers you get and um, all of them are 100% um, powerful and memorable in my opinion which the final meal absolutely should be um, Caroline. Thank you for being so amazing with your time and your insights and kind of opening the doors of tuplelow honey as well as your own thinking. Um, how should people connect with you and the brand.

 

33:57.85

caroline

Um, yes.

 

34:11.85

caroline

Ah, you can find me on Linkedin and you can find our brand on too below honeycafe.com we’re also on Instagram under the same handle. So and hopefully coming to a city near you.

 

34:22.75

vigorbranding

Um I Love it. Check the show notes for those links folks and thank you again.

 

Share this

Episode Details

Forktales - a podcast that feeds food and beverage

Launching April 15th

Signup to get notified when we launch and when new episodes are available.