Salata, a fast casual built-to-order salad kitchen, has chosen managed service provider Interface to implement video analytics, restaurant-technology-in-a-box, and VoIP communication at its more than 80 locations.

To uncover business insights, identify training opportunities, and enhance loss prevention, Interface implemented a cloud-based video analytics solution that streamed valuable business insights from security cameras. As a part of the network upgrade, Interface implemented a payment card industry (PCI)-compliant network cabinet with wireless access points, software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) router, firewall, and voice over internet (VoIP) phones. The upgrade included complete design, implementation, and ongoing maintenance of the network and voice infrastructure.

“Salata decided to accelerate its digital transformation journey even before the pandemic,” said Pete Kaufmann, senior director of IT at Salata. “We wanted to get the basics right and started evaluating the key challenges with our existing network, voice, and business intelligence capabilities.”

The IT team at Salata narrowed their focus on four major capability gaps:

    Network reliability: Non-standard network infrastructure at Salata made it extremely difficult to manage network uptime and security. Every time the network went down, it meant lost revenue. Keeping tabs on potential security vulnerabilities, patch management, troubleshooting connectivity issues, replacing faulty network devices, and other routine network maintenance tasks was a major drain on the IT team.

    Legacy phones: Salata restaurant managers realized that they needed a phone system that would give them the ability to field customer calls at scale. It was challenging for restaurant staff to take phone orders and most calls ended up being kept on hold or went unanswered.

    Business insights: Customer preference for “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store” (BOPIS), catering, and third-party delivery services, and reduced dine-in traffic were some of the changes that had cascading impact on restaurant operations. While the IT team had access to a treasure trove of data spanning network, voice, and camera systems, data was available in silos and there was no easy way to connect the dots.

    Vendor solutions: Salata had expanded rapidly since 2005. In the absence of a standardized network solution, the IT team had the unenviable task of managing multiple vendor relationships to support a single location. It was difficult to assign responsibility for network issues. Vendor service costs were different at every location and it became challenging to forecast operational costs for planning or expansion.

Salata chose to work with Interface to roll out a comprehensive suite of network, voice, and business intelligence solutions that not only plugged the gaps in the IT infrastructure but also laid the platform for seamless data integration and business intelligence.

With Interface taking full responsibility for the turnkey solution implementation, Salata was able to execute the IT transformation without the need to manage multiple vendors resulting in a significant reduction in IT operations complexity.

“We decided to consolidate all our critical IT requirements with Interface. Because they control the network, bandwidth provisioning, phones, and cameras we are now able to easily plug in our POS and combine the data streams across all of these systems to help make better decisions,” Kaufmann said.

Using video analytics, Salata can understand customer movements within the restaurant, speed of service, usage of dine-in tables or patio seating, the effectiveness of in-store design changes, and the impact of online marketing campaigns.

Interface also integrated Salata’s restaurant POS platform with the video camera feed by replacing some of the legacy analog cameras with IP cameras capable of sharing video feeds with 3rd-party systems. This integration helped Salata unlock a wealth of data from the POS system by mapping key transactions to their associated video recordings.

With video analytics, Salata is able to visualize customer flow at every restaurant in real-time giving restaurant managers and franchise partners valuable insights on customer experience at every touchpoint. Salata can now track customer dwell time at the salad line, online order pickup counters, and dine-in tables. This data is useful in determining the effectiveness of the restaurant layout, throughput, speed of service, and opportunities for minimizing customer wait times.

“Interface’s approach to building an integrated business intelligence solution that spans security cameras and POS integration has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for Salata,” Kaufmann said.

With this technology, Salata now has a secure, reliable indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi coverage, a cellular-based backup connection to ensure there is no downtime, and a secure SD-WAN edge to manage traffic performance for all critical applications.