After restaurateur David Chang (of Momofuku and Majordomo) became the first celebrity to win a million dollars on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, he explained that he wanted to raise awareness for workers in a struggling restaurant industry. In fact, the restaurant industry lost millions of jobs in early 2020. While some small mom and pops and other large restaurant chains have begun rehiring, there may still be grim days ahead. On a recent podcast following his victory, Chang observed a key identifier among restaurants that accelerated during the Covid pandemic: “Domino’s, Chipotle, all of these companies – they’re not even restaurant groups anymore, they’re more like technology companies. When the pandemic hit, I was like there's one company that's just going to crush, and it was Domino’s because when I was there, I was shocked that no one even touches the food for the most part.” - David Chang on the Bill Simmons Podcast. The DNA of leading tech organizations allows them to adjust quickly and scale products around existing values. When Chang mentions tech organizations, he means they have a keen understanding of their unique product-market fit. They constantly reassess which parts of their product are wasting space - and which need more. Three restaurants from the Restaurants 2019 Digital IQ Index achieved the coveted Genius ranking by sharing similar traits to tech organizations. Starbucks, Taco Bell and Domino’s all leverage mobile platforms to incorporate retention and consistency into the customer experience. 2020 proved they understand the structural and digital efforts needed to address customer needs in the ordering process, while reinforcing customers' perception of their strengths. Efficient fulfillment and robust path to purchase features can positively impact retention. Trait 1: Building Value into Digital Assets In July, Taco Bell launched its newest loyalty program on its app and immediately deployed best-in-class, user-centric features like points tracking on the app in the menu, a feature that more than half of restaurants fail to offer. Beyond that, Taco Bell’s app tracks preferred locations, a feature that 40% of restaurants with apps still lack. Like leading tech organizations, Genius brands create virtuous cycles of loyalty and seamless digital experiences that boost the likelihood of repurchase by loyal customers. Trait 2: Emphasizing Expertise Throughout Experience Domino’s recently focused its video advertisements on curbside pickup and product quality, emphasizing areas of expertise along the way. Domino’s introduced its new Domino's Carside Delivery option, stating “We went with what we do best: delivery.” Domino’s Carside Delivery features all of the benefits of curbside pickup, including reminders throughout the process about which identification customers need for pickup. The chain develops and innovates its fulfillment offerings frequently. Its long tradition includes Delivery Hotspots, a novel delivery feature allowing customers access to delivery in parks and other locations. But Domino's Carside Delivery importantly reinforces Domino's image as a delivery maven. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgHMx9dFWCk[/embed] Another creative boasts Domino’s expertise in delivering meals intact and as ordered. Domino’s states "we hate to see anything delivered poorly" in its “Designed to Be Delivered” ad. The pizza chain says it delivers "tacos" and "burgers" (the adapted pizza versions) hot and fresh. The ad comes in response to many customers discovering that not all menu items are made equal in their ability to endure packaging and delivery. Domino's seized the opportunity to reiterate its expertise in delivery operations and outshine competitors inside and outside of traditional pizza delivery. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Mxh6wAia74[/embed] If you’re interested to learn more, I hope you’ll join us for a free webinar reviewing the Restaurants 2020 Digital IQ Index report on January 28.