Tamy Duplantis – Return on Information Consulting
It’s been one of those days—11 hours at the office, another three stuck in traffic—and the last thing you want to do is cook. So you place an order through Uber Eats with your favorite local restaurant and wait. And wait. And wait. After 45 minutes, you start to get nervous; the food should’ve been here 15 minutes ago. After an hour, you decide to call the restaurant. Turns out, they never received your order, and now the delivery wait time is up to two hours.
Time to fire up those five-year-old frozen pizzas.
It’s a feeling familiar to anyone who’s used an online food-ordering platform even a handful of times. If the restaurant in question happens to be working with Tamy Duplantis, however, rest assured it’ll be the last time you scour the freezer in desperation.
“One of the biggest issues restaurants are facing is having online orders get lost in transit,” says Duplantis, founder and CIO of Return on Information Consulting (RoI). “And that stems from the technology stacks those restaurants have in place. To make it in this economy, every one of your technology pieces needs to be aligned properly.”
Following a successful stint at Le Duff America (LDA), where she led efforts to overhaul the restaurant group’s technology platforms, Duplantis launched RoI in September 2018. The mission: to use cutting-edge IT architecture to help companies bridge the gap between marketing, IT finance, operations and the many vendors they rely upon.
According to Duplantis, one of the biggest mistakes companies make is assuming that “sexier” technologies—lightweight touchpads that allow for easier order entries and have user-friendly enterprise resource management platforms—create better functionality and efficiency.
To the contrary, even the newest tools can lack the most basic of necessities, such as managing complex pricing tiers or having reliable backups for data that might be lost during a power outage or other emergency, she says.
“The question I often ask is: Why are you willing to invest $500,000 in order to save $5,000?” Duplantis posits. “If you’re a standalone restaurant, or even a small chain, there are a lot of different ways you can build out your technology ecosystem.”
The right template
Her time at Le Duff America (LDA) offers the perfect test case. By 2017, the French-owned company had acquired a vast portfolio of restaurants in the U.S., encompassing 500 locations across eight different brands (La Madeleine and Mimi’s Café being two of the most prominent).
What LDA needed was someone to unify those brands under a standard enterprise technology. Having spearheaded similar efforts for American icons like TGI Friday’s and Applebee’s, Duplantis more than fit the bill.
With online ordering fast becoming a differentiator, Duplantis knew that any technology stack had to begin with a rock-solid internet and network solution. Specifically, a SD-WAN platform network that included dual auto-failover internet connections, dual switches and 24-7 monitoring and security management.
“The goal was to eliminate all single points of failure between the guests and the restaurant kitchens,” Duplantis explains. “If a customer has one order failure, you might never get them back. We wanted to make sure that every order got through.”
Don’t reinvent the wheel
Next, Duplantis set to work revamping LDA’s aging point-of-service (POS) technology—that is, the tools staff use to process orders in the actual restaurants. Rather than invest in a largely unproven platform that may have easier integration and cool tablets, Duplantis instead opted for Aloha, an enterprise software solution that, despite its lack of bells and whistles, is virtually unmatched in stability and reliability.
“Even if the platform you’re using has warts, if you know what those warts are, it’s better to work around them than break the bank on a solution not yet mature and whose holes you haven’t seen yet,” Duplantis says. “The important thing is to architect a stack that snaps together seamlessly and eliminates friction points for the operators and the guests.”
In addition to the POS, Duplantis and her team strengthened LDA’s technology stack with MetTel’s managed platform-as-a-service to eliminate points of failure in internet, network and WiFi services, while enabling full integration with Grubhub’s ordering marketplace.
But it was the inclusion of the Monkey Media e-commerce platform that Duplantis says tied it all together. By linking Grubhub’s marketplace ordering tool with the company’s mobile app—already integrated in the MonkeyMedia e-commerce engine—MonkeyMedia became the traffic cop, managing the flow of orders to the in-store point of sale at a particular location to ensure more accurate delivery times for customers.
Meanwhile, Duplantis deployed another SaaS—CrunchTime’s back-office platform—to help manage ordering, inventory, waste, scheduling and labor, increasing efficiencies while lowering costs across the company.
“If you want to increase your profit margins and drive standard operating procedures across your restaurants, you can’t do better than CrunchTime; it consolidates all your locations and levels the playing field,” Duplantis says. “For organizations looking to compete in catering and off-premise ordering, MonkeyMedia is the best of the best.”
As she looks to grow RoI’s book of business, Duplantis is eager to bring an integrated tech stack to more small and medium-sized businesses—including business intelligence (BI), or tools that create better reporting and more credible data.
She also encourages companies to use information derived from the POS system—online orders, delivery statistics and the like—to negotiate more fair contracts with third-party delivery companies like GrubHub and Uber Eats—something she hopes her consultancy can provide.
“These third party delivery providers have caused a lot of disruption in the industry, and it’s something companies of all sizes have to adjust to,” Duplantis says. “But that doesn’t mean they should hold all the cards. The more that companies invest in integration and BI, the more leverage they’ll have in ensuring that relationship yields tangible benefits for them.”
And, hopefully, faster delivery times for the rest of us.
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