Freebirds World Burrito Takes Control of Its Digital Presence with Yext to Engage Guests with Great Food and Personalized Service
“Location means money. It’s that simple. If guests can’t find your restaurant, they won’t come to your restaurant. They will quickly go somewhere else. The easy, broad, and powerful ability to cleanup and control listings and landing pages with Yext is awesome.”
Founded in 1987, Freebirds started its journey in Santa Barbara, California and has progressed into an award-winning, fast-casual burrito restaurant. Now with nearly 100 restaurant locations across eight states, the company offers a personal approach to serving fresh, made-to-order burritos, tacos, nachos, quesadillas, bowls, and salads.
“Two things are very important to us — people and food,” says Erin Levzow, Vice President of Marketing. “We offer all sorts of customizable menu options and source ingredients locally whenever possible. It all stems back to, ‘We care about people and food.’”
Freebirds’ passionate employees, also known as the Tribe, personally engage and guide guests through the line and customize each meal to suit individual tastes. “Loyalty has always been paramount,” notes Levzow. “We were one of the first restaurants to have a punch card system. We have always provided the ability to walk in and have a loyalty card of some sort, to reward our guests. But as you know, technology has transitioned over time, and we are proud to have a loyalty program that has also transitioned. Our new loyalty system is unlike most others — we give each user the opportunity to earn rewards and move up tier levels for all purchases,” she explains. “You earn one point for every dollar you spend, and you can redeem those points for either food, swag, or one-of-a-kind experiences. You then get surprise-and-delight options throughout the experience as you gain points and proceed to the next level. Our team looked at multiple industries and analyzed how these leading organizations reward their loyal customers. We were proud to create a system that we knew would be the best fit for our restaurant and convenient for our guests in today’s world.”
Online engagement is as important as in-store engagement. Levzow explains, “I’m often asked, ‘Do you want someone who just engages with you all the time on digital and never comes into your restaurant, or do you want someone who is in your restaurant buying tons of burritos?’ Both types of guest are important each in its own right. The ones engaging all over social media and talking about Freebirds are significant to me because they are the ones inspiring new people to come in the door and buy all those burritos. There’s equal importance there.”
Of course, Levzow understands that it is not enough to have high engagement online. There has to be a seamless link between online and offline channels — which means there has to be good digital knowledge. “If guests can’t find you on a map or drop a pin, then they will quickly go somewhere else. The easy, broad, and powerful ability to cleanup and control listings and landing pages with Yext is awesome.”
Freebirds Deploys Yext to Ensure Guests Find Its Restaurants Quickly and Easily
Levzow recalls first hearing of Yext while at her previous company when researching and talking with different companies about claiming listings and landing pages. “An AdAge came out with Yext on the cover. I brought Yext up to one of my teammates desks and said, ‘Hey, let’s learn more about Yext.’ Then when I came over to Freebirds and went back into research mode, Yext came to my mind right away. I am a big believer in analysis, so before I make any decisions there is usually some sort of pie chart mixed with a graph explaining to me which is the best one to choose. Everything about Yext lined up this time.”
Freebirds combines Yext Listings and Pages to forge a strong local online presence. The Yext Knowledge Engine enables brands like Freebirds to manage the digital knowledge about their people, places, and products across their websites, mobile apps, internal systems, and the entire PowerListings® Network — over 100 maps, apps, search engines, GPS systems, and social networks including Google, Apple, Facebook, Bing, and Yahoo.
Pages from Yext are optimized local pages for each location on Freebirds’ own website.
Since signing on with Yext, Freebirds has greatly improved its digital knowledge. Now all locations are consolidated into a single verified Google Account. The company has merged 100+ ‘rogue’ user-generated pages and driven 100,000+ page views. Overall, Freebirds has seen a 103% lift in search impressions and a 118% increase in profile views.
Beyond innovative technology, Freebirds values the people portion of what Yext brings to the partnership. “I can tell you the people at Yext have been great, very responsive,” affirms Levzow. “When we look at which company we go with — and most industry professionals won’t tell you this when they say they are looking at cost or service — we are looking at the relationship. It’s very important to us that we first have a relationship, so that when I pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, can you help me?’ the response isn’t, ‘Oh what? What are you talking about? We’ll look at it next week.’ It has that same level of urgency. We believe sustaining a comfortable relationship is necessary and important.”
Looking forward, Levzow sees location as increasing in importance. “People take location for granted,” she states. “They’ll say, ‘Well, my website’s correct,’ and that’s enough for them. I say, ‘Well, great! Who goes to your website? Not someone who doesn’t know you and is just looking for what you are offering that is close by.’ As more and more people start using mobile to search for what they want in-the-moment, location is going to mean the difference between getting someone’s business, or not getting someone’s business. Location means money. It’s that simple.”