The impact of social media

Along with Instagram and Snapchat, California Donuts utilizes social media sites like Facebook to generate excitement about its brand and monitor customer demand and activity. One new Facebook feature that helps accomplish this mission is called Popular Hours, which shows when the bakery is busiest.

For example, Popular Hours reveals that walk-in traffic at California Donuts in Los Angeles peaks between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. every Friday night.

“What is important is to know what your brand is, and how you are going to break through,” Ms. Kuoch of California Donuts said.

According to Merchant Centric, Facebook’s Popular Hours works similar to Google’s Popular Times feature, showing when a merchant is busiest. While Facebook hasn’t released any official documentation about this feature, the site likely collects the information in a way that is similar to Google, by tapping into the mobile phone data of customers who allow Facebook to track their location.

Another thing that may increase the reliability of Facebook’s Popular Hours, is the potential for incorporating data that comes from user check-ins and comments on the site. Many of the people who don’t turn on mobile location services will still check-in or mention businesses in a post.

Such users may be tracked over time to determine their habits regarding visits to specific businesses, according to Merchant Centric. The benefits include the ability to adjust staffing to your bakery’s peak demand or run special promotions when traffic is slow.

If you know you are going to be busy on specific days and times, then special offers are unnecessary during those times. The trick is to find your slowest times, and then offer special discounts to encourage people to come in when they normally would not. For example, bakeries could offer an afternoon cookie or donut promotion if they expected business to be slow on, say, a Tuesday or Wednesday.




Other donut shops have used new technology to their competitive advantage. Opening in Durham, N.C., in 2012, Rise Biscuits and Donuts had a simple plan to create delicious food at an affordable price.

“We started as a chef-run local store with no intention of franchising,” said Sylvia Steere, director of technology at Rise Biscuits and Donuts. “In the beginning, we changed our menu every couple of days, and didn’t even take inventory.”

Once Rise was approached about franchising, the brand quickly began to grow, as Ms. Steere pointed out: “With so many new stores opening in such a short time frame, we really needed to find a way to use technology to ensure quality and consistency in all of our locations.”

Rise implemented Ctuit RADAR into both its corporate and franchise locations in order to get a better view into each store’s data trends.

“It is helpful to be able to view and compare all of the stores’ data and data history weekly, monthly, quarterly at any given time from any location,” Ms. Steere said. “Before RADAR, we didn’t have a way to compare metrics. We drove from store to store to keep in touch. With our growth taking us to so many new states that is just no longer possible.”

Currently with 10 locations (with expansion plans in Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky), Rise serves biscuits and donuts from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. every day. The donut menu features an assortment of old school, new school, and specialty donuts with interesting and unusual flavors like pineapple basil with pistachios.

They also make a hybrid called a “donnoli,” which is half donut and half cannoli that is filled. Their biscuit menu features everyday favorite fillings like country ham, bacon, sausage, fried chicken, and fried eggplant “bacon,” as well as a variety of cheeses, spreads, and eggs.