Texas Roadhouse, a family-friendly restaurant famous for hand-cut steaks, rolls with cinnamon honey butter, and a lively atmosphere, is experiencing sizzling hot success. The restaurant chain has more than 525 locations and is growing rapidly, adding an average of 30 new restaurant locations each year.
With all this growth, the organization's small corporate marketing team needed a more efficient way to scale its digital marketing efforts, while still maintaining the local community feel of the brand. Empowering busy local store marketers with easy-to-use digital marketing tools was also essential to ensure adoption at the local level and maintain a more authentic local voice.
Initially, Texas Roadhouse had three different technology vendors covering various aspects of its local digital marketing strategy. Aside from financial redundancy, it was inefficient for the team to log into different solutions in order to manage and report on their local digital marketing efforts across social media, reviews, and listings. In addition, as the brand looked to distribute control at the local level, having a single login for busy local store marketers was critical.
Texas Roadhouse decided to unify all of its local digital marketing on Uberall to help drive efficiency, optimize its efforts, and get local store marketers more involved.
A Local-First Strategy
Texas Roadhouse is a community fixture in each of the local markets it enters. The brand is known for its grassroots marketing that was ingrained in the business from its humble beginnings. In 1993, when the first Texas Roadhouse location opened in Clarksville, Indiana, Founder and CEO, Kent Taylor did food runs in the shopping complex where the restaurant was located, handing out samples of ribs and rolls.
This tradition has lived on, even as the restaurant chain has grown. Today each of the restaurant chain’s 500+ locations has a managing partner who invests and is a partial owner of their location, and a local marketer that is responsible for driving awareness and traffic to their stores. Beyond food runs, local stores drive community partnerships, fundraisers, are involved in local schools, and work with local businesses — all with the goal of building a stronger relationship within their community.
Uberall gives us the infrastructure to operate more efficiently, and allows us to encourage our store marketers to get involved in responding to reviews, and generating local content that is more authentic and effective at connecting with the community.
The Right Tools to Enable A Local-First Strategy
Texas Roadhouse, like many multi-location businesses, has a small but mighty marketing team. As the organization adds more stores, efficiency is the name of the game. To that end, Uberall is a business-essential solution for the Texas Roadhouse marketing team, helping them manage local listings, local reviews, local social — all at scale, while also getting each of the managing partners (store owners) and local marketers more involved.
Having a one-stop-shop is key. With Uberall we can log in, gather insights, make adjustments, respond to reviews, all from one platform.
Delivering On A Unique Brand Experience Amid COVID-19
The biggest differentiator for Texas Roadhouse is its unique in-store experience. When all of its dining rooms closed amid COVID-19, the brand had to deliver on that experience even though it’s restaurants couldn’t have people come inside.
Social media was one of the primary channels the brand leveraged to stay connected with its loyal customers during COVID-19. Despite a very crowded social media landscape, Texas Roadhouse saw engagement rates across all social media channels skyrocket. The brand added more than 200,000 followers across its 500+ local Facebook pages, a 650%increase over follower growth from the three months prior to COVID-19. In addition, engagement rates with posts were nearly 400% higher during COVID-19.
How did they do it? Having a strong local social following going into the crisis was extremely helpful, in addition the brand got creative, sharing fun ways for families to “live the brand” from home and beat boredom by extending in-store experiences online. They shared activity sheets for the kids, famous cocktail recipes for the adults, and they even launched their entire Texas Roadhouse Jukebox playlist on Spotify.
This model creates an entrepreneurial mindset that establishes a local feel. We don’t want to feel like a national chain, we really want to feel like a local restaurant in every community we are in, and our managing partners really embrace that.
What's Next for Texas Roadhouse
Texas Roadhouse, has been working toward stronger store-level involvement in local social media and review management for some time. Its belief is the more involved local store management is in amplifying the in-store experience in their market with photos of guests and fun events, the more they will connect with their community.
The brand already has 80 stores that are leveraging Uberall to manage store-level digital marketing, and it’s planning to bring on the remaining stores over the coming months with training and support from a field marketing partner.
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*Comparison = Dec. 2019 - Feb 2020 (non-COVID-19 period) vs. March - May 2020 (height of COVID-19 closures)