In a word, “wellness” captures the essence of SoBol, a café franchise specializing in açai bowls, green bowls, fruit smoothies and more. The products themselves are beautiful and cheery in their textured rainbow splendor. Not only that, but these photogenic foods are delicious and healthy, leaving patrons satiated without the guilt of, say, a slice of cake.
Perhaps that “feel good” factor is what has propelled founder Jason Mazzarone’s bowl concept from a side offering at his grandfather’s Italian ice stand to a fast-growing franchise, with more than 50 units and counting.
Another theme intertwined with the concept’s success is entrepreneurship, which runs in the family for Mazzarone. His grandfather was an entrepreneur, he is an entrepreneur, and the same spirit of ownership fuel’s SoBol’s franchise model.
In a QSR Magazine article—Why SoBol is a Fast Casual Brand to Watch—Mazzarone was quoted saying, “Our growth is going to be specifically from the franchise model. We strongly believe in it. And it’s been really exciting to help families kind of fulfill their dreams of owning their own business and being part of their communities.”
While franchise owners vary across SoBol locations, a few factors remain consistent, too. The brand’s food is produced fresh daily—if you ask the team, the secret is in the granola—and it’s served with great service at the most competitive price.
Fortunately, franchise owners can capitalize on resources and technology to ensure uniformity where it matters while simultaneously adding their local stamp to the experience.
Consistency is a challenge that faces many restaurant chains, and it can be especially challenging within a franchise model. It’s critical to dial in those business aspects that need to be uniform, such as food and service quality, to make way for memorable changes and additions in other areas. Ultimately, customers are more likely to return when they know what to expect from a restaurant and crave that experience all over again. Fortunately, the cloud infrastructure of Revel’s cloud-native restaurant point of sale (POS) platform helps streamline operations for the exact consistency franchisees need to deliver the customer experience their guests want.
In most cases, simpler is better. According to Mazzarone, “Our mission at SoBol is to be day improvers.” That goes for employees and guests alike. In keeping with a hyper-focus on a great experience, SoBol needed a tech stack that was sleek, efficient, effective, and importantly, easy to use. As new franchisees work to get up-and-running quickly and established franchisees look to expand, ease of use for employee training is mission critical.
Fortunately, Revel’s cloud-native platform had the blend of seamless scalability, modern look and feel, ease of use, operational streamlining and general adaptability to meet the needs of SoBol’s rapidly growing franchise.
“We chose Revel for a number of reasons—the technology that you guys have, the cleanliness of the look of the actual point of sale—you know, it’s not a big, bulky, boxy point of sale,” says Nick Pesko, chief marketing officer at SoBol. “There’s so many other features in Revel that make our system easier for our staff and for our corporate end.”
Of course, following the COVID-19 pandemic, SoBol operators had to consider more than the in-store experience, with off-premises transactions growing exponentially.
“Online ordering and third-party delivery became roughly 80% of our business during the height of the pandemic,” says Pesko. While the restaurant’s percentage of off-premises orders has since adjusted from the pandemic’s height, it still accounts for a large portion of sales. According to Pesko, that’s a good thing, as the average ticket for online ordering is almost 100% higher than their in-store average.
Right in line with the brand’s entrepreneurial roots, platform agility is important as the brand continuously tests new tactics and offerings. For example, SoBol is considering incorporating self-service kiosks at their restaurants, and they are continuously refining their points-based rewards program. Their team also frequently leverages tools like the customer display system (CDS) as an added touchpoint for branded messages and promotional offers.
“With Revel, by the way, I love the front-facing [customer display system],” says Pesko. “I think it’s fantastic. I use it all the time for new campaigns—just a great extra tool from a marketer’s perspective.”
Of course, a key part of any testing is logging and monitoring results, which Revel’s reporting allows the brand to do.
“As far as the point of sale functionality, the reporting on the back end—especially with a franchise, reporting is the most important tool for our accounting and our finance team, and even for our product development team—and the reports on Revel were just ten times cleaner, more concise, and exactly what we needed,” Pesko says.
Able to transform data insights into actionable operational changes, Revel’s platform acts as an underlying current for SoBol, allowing franchise owners to share and learn from one another’s trials and best practices.
We’re a growing brand. You know, we’re trial and error. We try things and hope they work out, and if they don’t, we move on to something we believe will be better. During the trial phase between Revel and a different point of sale company, Revel just fit what we needed.Nick Pesko, chief marketing officer, SoBol
Ultimately, it all comes back to agility. SoBol is an innovative brand that needed an equally innovative platform in order to carry out different initiatives and approaches.
From online ordering, to self-service kiosks, to third-party integrations, to customer display screens, and beyond—Revel has been able to adapt alongside SoBol. Ringing true with the brand’s feel-good spirit, that improves days for both franchise owners and their customers.