Read how the brand improves guest experience and speed of service in the drive-thru and the dining room.
The menu board solution operating in Yoshinoya America’s dining rooms and drive-thrus didn’t provide the uptime or ease of use the company needed to grow. The company adopted Xenial Digital Menu Boards in all 106 locations, including 34 drive-thrus, along with Xenial Drive-thru Director. Now, the company has a stable, reliable, and easily managed digital menu platform that significantly reduces hands-on support and management from its internal IT staff. By relying on Xenial Drive-thru Director to improve reporting and crew competition, the company has slashed drive-thru service times by 35%, increasing throughput and fostering guest loyalty.
Yoshinoya’s origins date back to 1899, when Eikichi Matsuda first served hot, fast and affordable rice bowls in a busy Japanese fish market. Today, Yoshinoya operates 2,000 locations mainly in Asia Pacific countries, with about 106 restaurants located in southern California operated by Yoshinoya America.
Yoshinoya America offers inside dining and drive-thrus. Its digital menu board solution that served both indoors and in the drive-thrus had systemic issues. When the power went out—a fairly frequent occurrence in and around Los Angeles—the media players often wouldn’t automatically re-start.
Alex Adams, Sr. IT Project Manager for Restaurant Systems at Yoshinoya America, says, “Once power was restored, menu boards often wouldn’t work until local store staff powered up the media players manually.”
But that wasn’t the only issue. Once the media players and displays were powered back up, often, panels would be re-arranged. This meant screen content was on the wrong screen.
“The vendor was never able to fix either of these issues,” says Adams. “Every power outage required a considerable amount of time from store staff and, often, IT staff, to resolve.”
In its drive-thrus, Yoshinoya America originally measured speed of service using bump bars. This method was inaccurate, however, because it could be tricked and spoofed by bumping orders early. The company then implemented a timer system by HME. That system, however, required significant hands-on intervention to set up and operate. Also, reporting in the HME system was neither intuitive nor robust, according to Adams.
The company has an Operational Excellence pillar as part of its mission. To improve guest experiences and efficiency, Yoshinoya America looked for alternative solutions for its DMBs and drive-thru timer.
Yoshinoya America piloted and later installed Xenial Digital Menu Boards to replace the incumbent menu board platform and Xenial Drive-thru Director, displacing the HME timing system.
Bright, engaging Xenial Indoor Menu Boards are running in 26 franchise and 80 corporate locations. The company converted 2 franchise and 32 corporate drive-thrus to Xenial Outdoor Digital Menu Boards, with integrated speaker and microphone.
Switching to Xenial DMBs completely eliminated both the media player restart issue and the panel rearrangement issue. “While no technology operates 100% perfectly all the time, any issues with the Xenial DMB platform are quite rare,” says Adams.
Yoshinoya America deployed Xenial Drive-thru Director in all 34 locations that offer drive-thrus, and has reduced drive-thru service times by 35%.
“It’s been a game changer to have a DMB platform with such an easy-to-use UI (User Interface) that encourages our marketing team to manage their own content or make pricing changes on the fly. With Marketing managing the boards day-to-day, IT is now mostly hands off, so we can focus on other priorities.”
- Alex Adams, Sr. IT Project Manager for Restaurant Systems at Yoshinoya America
Adams and his team manage all store technology for Yoshinoya America. He led the vendor evaluation, technology pilots, selection, and technology roll-outs, working with teams from Xenial. He had been introduced to Xenial technologies while he was in an IT role at CKE, the owner of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands.
“When we were considering platforms to replace our DMBs, we considered LSI along with Xenial,” says Adams. “LSI offers a decent solution but it didn’t have the integrations that the Xenial DMB platform has.”
Xenial also offered a superior, simpler content and pricing management system. “The LSI solution didn’t make it nearly as intuitive to manage content or pricing as Xenial’s DMB management portal does,” says Adams. “The LSI solution would have required us to make changes in a spreadsheet and upload it, for example.”
“We are on a growth trajectory, so it’s in our best interest to adopt technology platforms that scale well,” says Adams. “Xenial gets high marks for checking the reliability and ease of use boxes that make their DMB and timer solutions so readily scalable,” adds Adams.
By the Numbers
Improvement in drive‑thru speed of service by using Xenial Drive‑thru Director
Locations using Xenial Indoor Digital Menu Boards
(26 franchise, 80 corporate)
Drive‑thru locations using Xenial Drive‑thru Director and Xenial Outdoor Digital Menu Boards
(2 franchise, 32 corporate)
“The Xenial Health Monitoring portal is a lifesaver for us. From a dashboard, my team can see if a particular store is not receiving content, which controllers or panels are operating normally and which are down.”
- Alex Adams, Sr. IT Project Manager for Restaurant Systems at Yoshinoya America
The Outcome: Faster Drive-thru Service and Better, More Reliable Ordering Experiences
By speeding up service in the drive-thru by 35% and avoiding DMB downtime, the technology solutions from Xenial dramatically improve guest experiences.
With Xenial DMBs, Yoshinoya America has a more reliable, truly commercial solution that is easier to manage. In the event of a power outage, the Xenial media controllers re-start automatically when power is restored. “There are no more dark or re-arranged screens with Xenial DMBs. Once the power is back up, we’re ready to take orders almost right away,” says Adams. Xenial DMBs avoid hours of troubleshooting by Yoshinoya store crews and IT staff. The Xenial DMB Content Management and Health Monitoring Portal gives Adams and his team visibility into every menu board and media controller across all Yoshinoya America locations, with Xenial Support proactively monitoring the brand’s hardware in the background from its Support center.
Significantly Reduces Hands-on Content Management from IT
Adams and his team have improved efficiency and instilled operational excellence, while removing IT from involvement in day-to-day digital menu board content management.
“Our previous DMB solution required a lot of involvement from IT, for day-to-day menu and pricing management, and for troubleshooting outages or other issues,” says Adams. “Often store crew members also ended up spending considerable time restoring DMBs following a power outage which took them away from their primary goal of serving guests.”
The Xenial DMB platform offers a very insightful health monitoring portal that gives both Yoshinoya IT and Xenial Support a view of the current state and health of all menu boards and media players across Yoshinoya America. “The Xenial Health Monitoring portal is a lifesaver for us,” says Adams. “From a dashboard, my team can see if a particular store is not receiving content, which controllers or panels are operating normally and which are down, length of outage, time the issue started, and so on.”
If there is an issue with a media controller, menu board, or content update, Xenial Support receives a proactive alert and may even be aware of the issue before the Yoshinoya team is. “If Xenial hasn’t already fixed the issue by the time our marketing team discovers it, our marketing team can reach out to Xenial Support directly,” says Adams.
Ease of Use for Marketers and IT Alike
Previously, marketing ran all of their troubleshooting and content and pricing management requests through Adams’ team.
Starting with the Xenial DMB pilot, the Yoshinoya marketing team found it very easy to manage screens themselves. They use the highly intuitive DMB Content Management and Health Monitoring Portal to remotely manage and make changes to:
“It’s been a game changer to have a DMB platform with such an easy-to-use UI (User Interface) that encourages the marketing team to manage their own content or make pricing changes on the fly,” says Adams. “With marketing managing the boards, IT is now mostly hands off, so we can focus on other priorities.”
Xenial Drive-thru Timer Improves Speed of Service by 35%
By using Xenial Drive-thru Director, Yoshinoya America has reduced drive-thru speed of service times by 35%.
“In a world where we’re becoming more drive-thru-centric, it’s even more important to have good drive-thru speed of service,” says Adams. “With this model, it’s all the more important to give guests a good experience so they’ll come back even during a busy rush period, not just because the food is great but because the speed of service is great. Xenial Drive-thru Director has helped us achieve and maintain compelling drive-thru service times, making our lunch crowd, especially, more likely to come order from us because they know they can get in and out in a timely manner.”
Adams highlighted these superior capabilities as reasons why Yoshinoya is happy to be working with Xenial Drive-thru Director:
“Happy guests tend to be repeat customers, and Xenial Drive-Thru Director is now an essential tool helping our hospitality ops teams maintain a high bar for fast service,” says Adams.
Support Flexes to Meet Brand’s Operational Requirements
Adams and Yoshinoya wanted the switch to Xenial DMBs to reduce or eliminate the time that in-store operations staff and IT spent troubleshooting technology issues.
“We run very lean, operationally speaking, at our stores,” says Adams. “We can’t have our GMs on the phone with support for lengthy periods of time, trying to troubleshoot an issue.”
Xenial Support spent time meeting with Adams and his team to learn how stores worked. The result was a support model that aligns with Yoshinoya’s operational and labor model.
“We really appreciate that Xenial was and is willing to listen and apply what they hear, to adjust their support structure and methods to fit our store operations,” says Adams. “When a partnership works that way, there is a lot more synergy going on, and the Xenial Support team’s flexibility to work with us in a way that matches how our stores operate alleviates pressure from our store crews. Our operations staff are no longer trying to be DMB technicians, and they can focus, instead, on making great food and serving guests.”
Adams adds, “Xenial has helped us deploy the tools, resources, and support model we needed to survive and bounce back in the midst of a pandemic, which helped our business across the board, from operations, to technology, to marketing. I also appreciate that Xenial pushes the envelope. Any partner that constantly improves their products and releases innovative new products and services like Xenial does is a great partner to have.”
From its origins in the bustling Nihonbashi Fish Market of Chuoku Tokyo, Yoshinoya Japanese Kitchen has grown to more than 2,000 locations, mainly located in Asia-Pacific. Yoshinoya arrived in the U.S. opening its first restaurant in Los Angeles in 1979. Today Yoshinoya America serves irresistible Japanese rice bowls in more than 100 locations, 34 of them offering drive-thru. Learn more about the company and franchise opportunities.
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