Blaze Pizza is Food On Demand’s next Outstanding Operator.

The pizza chain is being recognized for implementing guest-centric strategies to attract and retain loyal customers and more. 

Chief Technology Officer, Chris Demery says Blaze prides itself in its fresh ingredients and build-your-own pizzas. 

Consistently serving high-quality food remains top of mind for the company for both in-person and off-premises customers.

At Blaze, about 30 percent of sales are off-premises, while 70 percent are dine-in. Breaking down even further, of those off-premises sales, 60 percent comes from third-party delivery, while 40 percent comes through first-party ordering.

Blaze Pizza Chief Technology Officer, Chris Demery.

Blaze Pizza Chief Technology Officer, Chris Demery.

Encouraging customers to order first-party is a big priority for the pizza hub. Demery says customers ordering first-party are the first to receive exclusive LTO’s (limited-time offers). The brand’s loyalty program is also only available through first-party ordering and pricing is less expensive for guests this route. 

Using guest data to improve experiences 

Blaze also implements forms of technology for guest personalization and outreach. 

This includes using technology for the hyper-segmentation of loyalty members. This is done by breaking guests up into different segments and sending tailored messages through email or (primarily) text messaging. 

The messages are based on the segment guests fall into. “If you’re a relatively, highly loyal guest, you’ll get a text message that says, hey, we know you visit a lot, come in and see the new special we’re having,” Demery explained. 

When consumers click on the text message or email, it takes them directly to Blaze’s ordering channel via deep linking technology. 

Most recently, Blaze began using the FreshTech KDS platform in its corporate locations. Powered through an AI platform, the system messages all digital guests via SMS when their order is received, when it is being packaged, and when it is ready. 

“Most organizations send an email that says we have your order then it disappears into space, so we make them aware of their journey via SMS text,” said Demery. 

In addition, on the operations side, Blaze is equipped with separate staging for pickup and delivery as well as a separate makeline for digital orders. 

Combating the four-wall mentality  

When asked what remains a challenge for business, Demery relayed it’s combatting the “four-wall mentality” concept.

Demery describes this as when an operator does not treat off-premises guests the same way as an in-person guest. 

“When a restaurant has a problem, a general manager can solve it within five to 30 seconds. With an off-premises guest, you may not know they have a problem for 20 minutes…in my opinion, you should still solve it as fast as you can, you don’t want to solve it two days later,” he said. 

Like most chains, a main challenge for Blaze is labor, especially amid busy dayparts. To offset labor, operators will turn off online ordering to only handle people in the restaurant—a common move in restaurants. 

“That’s the first symptom of the four-wall mentality,” he said. 

Demery acknowledges it’s difficult to treat in-person and off-premises customers the same, and that “it takes certain technologies,” but adds it’s important to switch that mentality. 

“They are all our guests, so they should receive the same valuable consideration, experience and quality of food,” he said.

Blaze Pizza currently has over 300 locations in 38 states including some locations in Canada and the Middle East. Looking ahead Blaze has domestic growth plans underway in areas like Texas.

In addition, the chain has started leaning further into international growth, identifying about five countries as a focus to eventually move into.

The Outstanding Operators Program is highlighting 20 innovative brands taking creative paths to success with all things off-premises. Winners receive a $1000 charitable donation to the organization of choice and will be recognized on-stage at the 2024 Food On Demand Conference. Register today!

The Outstanding Operator program is sponsored by these industry-leading partners.