The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown us all for a loop, with gathering restrictions, economic implications and increased stress for so many. But when Tricia Sluder, our franchisee in Cleveland, TN, learned about the impact COVID-19 could have, she didn’t waste any time adapting the HoneyBaked operational model. Guided by HoneyBaked’s values of community service, being innovative, doing the right thing and leaving things better than we found them; Tricia was able to incorporate curbside service into her business.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
In addition to closing the dining room, the new statewide restrictions mandated that the patio at Tricia’s HoneyBaked location also had to be closed. Tricia wasn’t willing to shutter her entire business just because HoneyBaked’s loyal customers could no longer dine in. So, using some innovative thinking, she figured out a way to make sure each customer could get the World’s Best Ham® in the safest way possible with curbside pickup.
“It was something that happened very quickly—that the state mandated restaurants close,” Tricia says. Within a week of the mandate, Tricia’s team had ordered new parking lot signage to mark curbside pickup parking spots, created dinner specials to encourage customers to engage with the brand, implemented a system for receiving curbside pickup orders and adjusted the interior of the store to make curbside orders run as smoothly as possible.
“We established the parking spots immediately, got the signs up, had that all done in a day, but we had to come up with forms to capture the relevant information,” Tricia says. “When we decided what we needed to do, it did happen so fast.”
Curbside pickup is new for HoneyBaked, so Tricia was able to forge her own path within the model and adjust our proven systems to meet her curbside customers’ needs. “In order to fulfill the orders, as they were coming in pretty quickly, we had to set up a staging area in the store,” Tricia says. “We would pull the orders based on the time in 15-minute increments and run the payment information to save that extra minute when they pull in, and just look out for them and confirm their order.”
Tricia also used her experience as a HoneyBaked franchisee to build meal kits for families to pick up and take home for dinner that required no cooking and had sides included. “75% of people who did the dinner kit did it at the curb,” Tricia says. “The first dinner kit we sold, we sold 60 bags in the first day and a half.”
“People have been so sweet and really, really appreciative that they can pull in and we’ll bring it out to them,” Tricia says. In fact, in addition to the meal kits going over so well, HoneyBaked Cleveland customers have also used the curbside pickup service for their lunch. “Now we have people doing curbside just for their sandwich at lunchtime,” Tricia says. “There are totally new norms established now as a result of this virus.”
As a result of the nationwide “new normal,” Tricia plans to maintain the curbside pickup business at her HoneyBaked location to serve her community, even as Tennessee loosens restrictions and allows for some dine-in customers. “Going forward, we’ll continue to do the curbside,” Tricia says. “And meal kits are going to be an expectation of the future. Families have discovered that they enjoy sitting down at the dinner table at the same time.”
When you bring a HoneyBaked to your own community, you will be bringing an adaptable model and delicious, crunchy-glazed, spiral-sliced ham to your friends and neighbors. Start your HoneyBaked franchise journey by reaching out for more information.