At LinkUp 2019, Cajun Operating Company (Church’s Chicken®) was awarded the Success Story of the Year for an e-learning competition that resulted in double-digit sales increases on a limited time offer (LTO). The Atlanta-based quick-service restaurant chain with nearly 1,400 locations also achieved a 10% higher product mix, raised guest satisfaction scores by three points, improved communication with team members, and doubled engagement with their restaurant visit app.
Success Story of the Year Background
In June of 2019, Church’s launched its new learning management system (LMS), DiscoverLink Talent, which coincided with the launch of two LTOs: Bourbon Black Pepper Smokehouse Chicken and Peach Cobbler. To generate excitement about the LTOs and the rollout of the new LMS, Church’s announced a competition called “Ready, Set, Execute.” After achieving completion rates 15% higher than usual for LTO training, Church’s Chicken was encouraged to share their success for DiscoverLink’s Success Story of the Year contest. Entrants were invited to share their stories of how e-learning has impacted their brand in a notable way. Three top nominees were selected by the DiscoverLink team and were invited to pitch their stories at DiscoverLink’s annual client conference, LinkUp, where attendees voted on the best success story. Felicia White, Senior Director of Training and Development, and Brendan Burg, Vice President of Ops Services, were in attendance to share their story. The winner was gifted a photobook that highlighted the achievement and dived deep into the success story.
Competition Launch and its Four Requirements
With the implementation of a new LMS, Church’s training team needed to develop a plan to educate and engage team members with the software. Ready, Set, Execute was a competition broken up into four requirements with the first focusing on the brand’s LMS campus, Pathway to Excellence (PTE) University. Restaurant locations that met the four key requirements would be entered to win one of 12 cash prizes of $1,000 each. This promotion was a repeat from the previous year; however, an investment was made in national media which elevated the importance of ensuring that the restaurant teams properly executed the procedures for each guest.
The competition focused on four requirements:
- Training: 100% of the team members in the restaurant had to complete the LTO training courses for both the Bourbon Black Pepper Smokehouse Chicken and Peach Cobbler.
- Above Restaurant Leader (ARL) Follow Up: Using the Restaurant Visitation Tool App, ARLs had to complete LTO visits in each of their restaurants by designated dates. One visit had to be completed prior to the start of the promotion, and the second visit had to be completed one week after the start of national media.
- Mystery Shops: Each key LTO at Church’s included a restaurant incentive program called Cups of Cash. Third-party mystery shoppers visited each restaurant looking for key execution elements. If the restaurant passed the mystery shop the team members working on the shift could receive $10 gift cards. A passing score on the first mystery shop visit was required in order to be eligible.
- Guest Survey Results: Overall guest satisfaction metrics received from guest surveys submitted online were monitored during the national media window of the LTO. Restaurants had to meet the minimum goal set for overall guest satisfaction during the designated window of time.
Team members were introduced to the LMS by logging into their individual accounts and completing the LTO training. Since this was the initial launch of DiscoverLink Talent, the training team set a goal of a 50% completion rate. In the past, the training team had seen completion rates of around 60%. However, the training team recorded at 85% completion rate by the deadline, which proved to be their most successful LTO launch to date. Overall guest satisfaction scores were also three points higher compared to the previous year. In addition, more than 560 locations met the 100% completion requirement to be eligible to win.
“With our previous system, team members did not have individual accounts, but now each person has their own account, which gives users a sense of ownership,” said Felicia White, Senior Director of Training and Development for Church’s Chicken. “As a bonus, the messaging feature in DiscoverLink Talent is being utilized by team members at all levels as a way to communicate with the training department and corporate staff.”
Church’s Chicken is also planning on launching “Ready, Set, Execute…Again!” which will take place in January of 2020 during their Lent LTO promotion. The competition will run very similarly, in which 100% of team members are required to complete the LTO training in PTE University. In addition, restaurants that offer delivery are eligible for a second entry if all team members complete the delivery training on the LMS.