Fazoli’s Uses Yext to Triple Online Sales
Fazoli’s is a leading Italian restaurant chain that serves freshly prepared pasta entrees, Submarinos® sandwiches, salads, and pizza to approximately 30 million guests each year. Headquartered in Lexington, KY, the brand is expanding and currently operates 220 restaurants across 26 states. The company operates a franchise model and has a mission to serve America premium quality Italian food — “fast, fresh, and friendly.”
When Will Hanrahan, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing, took over the Fazoli’s website and digital footprint, it was challenging to manage all of the brand’s information for a loyal and growing customer base. This was especially true for menu offerings, which changed frequently and varied by location.
Fazoli’s franchise operators would often customise their menus with limited-time offers, but the company was unable to publish these tailored menus online for individual restaurants. The Fazoli’s website had a single corporate menu page, making it look as though all items were available at all locations. Consumers searching online couldn’t always see the correct menu for the location nearest to them, causing confusion that sometimes led to negative reviews.
With Hanrahan singlehandedly managing a growing number of reviews for 220 restaurants, it became impossible to respond with all the customers leaving reviews on a one-to-one basis.
Fazoli’s decided to work with Yext to rebuild the brand’s digital footprint with the Marketing Answers solution framework. Initially, Hanrahan populated the Fazoli’s Knowledge Graph with restaurant data and used Yext Location Listings and SEO Landing Pages to ensure accuracy and boost discoverability in local search results. With Yext as its central source of truth, Fazoli’s could easily update location-specific information, like business hours, on its own website and across 200+ networks like Google, Bing, Facebook, and Yelp.
Soon after launching Yext to manage location data for all of its restaurants, Fazoli’s saw improved customer engagement thanks to a more accurate and robust online presence. By reconciling many sets of duplicates, cleaning up the brand’s categories, and optimising listings content so locations could rank in unbranded search results, Fazoli’s is now able to stand out in a competitive market. “A lot of customers still find us online by searching for ‘Italian restaurant near me.’ Before, we’d end up getting lumped in with all the other pizza places, but now Yext helps us show people who we are,” Hanrahan says.
Delivering accurate information is especially important as Fazoli’s continues to expand. “There are many markets where we’re new, and there are a lot of people that are discovering us for the first time,” says Hanrahan. “It is really important that we are able to serve up the right answers for that audience.”
With Yext, Hanrahan is able to load menu data into the Knowledge Graph. By leveraging an in-platform integration with Olo, franchise operators can independently update and customize offerings, prices, and specials for their specific locations. “The Olo integration really saves me a lot of time because prior to that, every individual location had their own menu,” says Hanrahan. “If a location did a test and tried out new items, I would have to go in manually to update the information. The integration takes all that work off my hands because Yext updates menu data straight from Olo.”
Updating and publishing restaurant menus elsewhere was one thing, but making these offerings discoverable on the Fazoli’s website was another. Within several months of implementing the Yext Site Search solution, Hanrahan noticed that users were still searching for answers.
“We found that a lot of people were just typing in ‘Fazoli’s menu,’ and we realised that we weren’t really giving people a simple, easy option to find our menu items. That was one of the reasons we used Yext to build out a menu page on our website and added menu items to the Knowledge Graph. Since we did that, we found that a lot of people were going to the website and searching less because we provided them the experience they were looking for,” says Hanrahan.
Fazoli’s also uses the Yext Reputation Management solution to both monitor and respond to reviews. Prior to working with Yext, response rates across the company were low — something that Hanrahan saw as a huge opportunity. “If you want your guests to return, then responding to reviews is going to be critical to build your reputation and avoid people going to a competitor,” Hanrahan says.
Hanrahan worked with Yext to build a distributed user model, which allows franchise operators to independently manage feedback for their restaurants. “We’ve provided training and access to our franchisees to reply to reviews and resolve issues for their locations. That helps them to be more engaged in their business, be notified about problems, and fix issues quickly and effectively,” continues Hanrahan.
Internally, Fazoli’s has developed a “Yext Score,” which is a metric composed of ratings from First Party, Google, and Facebook reviews. This is the primary way that the business measures a restaurant’s reputation, so Yext has quickly become a household name among employees. “At this point, I’d say almost every employee in the entire organisation knows what Yext is,” says Hanrahan.
After fully launching the Marketing Answers solution set in the spring of 2020, Fazoli’s has seen 71% YoY growth in clicks to branded searches, indicating that the restaurant has been able to reclaim traffic from high-cost, low-conversion paid search. Additionally, Fazoli’s experienced 32% YoY growth in clicks to unbranded searches, helping the business rank organically and pull customers from a broad range of competitive keywords.
Within the same period, the number of customers clicking through to Yext-powered restaurant pages increased by 62% as Fazoli’s continued to expand its offerings for online ordering. First-party review generation also grew 74% YoY and franchise operators used Yext to maintain a response rate of over 80%.
Fazoli’s launched Yext Site Search in April 2020 and has since seen a 21% reduction in bounce rate on their website compared to the same period of the prior year. 88% of searches have returned direct results from Fazoli’s Knowledge Graph, which has improved user experience and smoothed the online path to conversion.
Altogether, Fazoli’s has seen 3.6x growth in online sales after kicking off a Yext-assisted digital transformation.
Over the past four years, Fazoli’s has worked closely with Yext to completely transform its digital footprint. Traffic to the company’s website has seen remarkable growth. Customer complaints about the menu and local store information have dropped. Sales, both in-person and online, have soared.
“Yext has always been there to help and support us with whatever we’ve needed to grow our business. It’s been fantastic, and Yext really does feel like an extension of our own marketing department. We have a pretty small team where we’re trying to get a lot done with limited resources, so being able to leverage the power of Yext has been huge.”