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Regional restaurant chain la Madeleine claims mobile app boosted takeout business

Texas-based restaurant chain la Madeleine claims that its overall takeout business has increased 6 percent, driven by opening up new customer touch points for placing orders across online, social media, a call center and mobile.

Partnering with Exit41 for online and mobile ordering, la Madeleine’s iPhone app went live in Apple’s iTunes App Store in October. To date, the average check for food ordered via mobile is right around the same as online – about $24, which is a significant increase from the in-store average check, and also higher than the average order via the call center.

“We have not yet made any grand promotions of the iPhone app, but we still have more than 1,000 downloads of the app in the App Store,” said Richard Hodges, senior director of technology at la Madeleine, Dallas. “One part of the strategy we call off-premise ordering, including online ordering, our call center and mobile ordering, and eventually social media.

“We have a catering and delivery business at some locations, and we’re looking at how a call center and mobile could augment our sales,” he said. “Our marketing team’s biggest push will be in the restaurant, with door signs, stand-alone point-of-purchase signage and a broadcast via our eclubs—each restaurant has one.

“When we describe la Madeleine’s target demographic, we call her Amanda, and she is much more likely to make her smartphone choice an iPhone.”

La Madeleine is a French countryside-flavored restaurant offering items such as Caesar salads, tomato basil soup, sandwiches, fresh bread and pastries. It has restaurants in seven markets, including Texas, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC, with a total of 61 stores nationwide.

Local restaurants going mobile
Mr. Hodges said that Amanda’s average household income ranges from $75,000 to $150,000 per year.

Amanda is 25-55, female, affluent, discriminating, does probably have a smartphone, is social-media-connected, is familiar with the online experience and expects great customer service.

“Our off-premise ordering strategy lines up very well with this target demographic, who is online, using their smartphones and active in social-media connection points,” Mr. Hodges said. “All of this is designed to make Amanda’s life easier.

“For our iPhone app, it has to be easy to use and intuitive—it is pretty simple to read, with big font,” he said.

Mmmmm…mobile menu

Customers can pay via credit card online or within the app, or they can pay when they pickup the order.

In-app ordering

Exit41 provides an additional access point for Amanda to order from la Madeleine in an easy and convenient way, per Mr. Hodges.

Amanda can use the app to get directions to the closest restaurant

With the implementation of online ordering, the call center and the iPhone app, all off-premise ordering channels have increased revenues, per la Madeleine.

For example, at one of la Madeleine’s Houston locations, online made up 8 percent of total orders. However, now that the app has launched, online and mobile comprise 20 percent of all orders.

“We have absolutely seen a big increase in orders since we have introduced these products,” Mr. Hodges said. “If you can get them on the phone, their check average is much larger, and the online and mobile ordering is even higher than the call center.

“The iPhone is still a very small portion of our overall sales, as we still haven’t promoted it very much,” he said. “But we expect mobile ordering to grow going forward.”