Q & A with Cascade Dining on their Upside experience

Papa John’s operators discuss their experience with various marketing partners to drive sales, and what makes Upside different.

May 24, 2024
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Q & A with Cascade Dining on their Upside experience
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Q & A with Cascade Dining on their Upside experience

Cascade Dining operates 25 Papa John’s locations in the American Northwest. We recently sat down with Matt Edwards, Director of Operations, and Justin Druet, Area Supervisor, to talk about the state of marketing in the restaurant industry and their experience using Upside to find and engage new customers in their communities.

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Upside: Let’s kick it off with a little bit about the communities that you serve. What’s your target customer like?

Edwards: People who like to order pizza! We’ve been in the Papa John’s business for almost 25 years. It’s something we’ve always done. Families are our primary demographic, but it’s really about value seekers, people who are looking for a deal – whether that’s at a national level with new products or promotions, or a local carry out offer. 

Upside: And is this where Upside comes into play? Reaching consumers who are looking for value? 

Edwards: Yes, definitely. We have to be effective with how we’re spending our marketing dollars, and we have to be diligent about how we’re measuring success. Value-seekers want a great carry-out offer. And there are players in this category that pay a lot of money to be on TV and billboards with their offers. For us, Upside allows us to target people that are already looking for a good value.

Upside: You mentioned that a lot of companies invest heavily in marketing. But we know measuring impact can be difficult. Can you tell us about any challenges you’ve faced attributing sales to a marketing partnership? 

Edwards: We’ve worked with other companies to offer customers the value they’re looking for.  With a more traditional sort of company, we have no way of really measuring the effectiveness of what we’re getting out of those places. 

We’ve also worked with other companies that take credit for every transaction – even if that person has been ordering from us regularly, placing the same order that they place every Friday. There’s always a degree of cannibalization of our own offers and the people who are already ordering from us. It’s not based on anything incremental.

If we were to go by what they tell us, the sales that they’re responsible for, then we’d blow the roof off of every record that we’ve ever set. It’s just not believable and it doesn’t connect. Upside is different. 

Upside:  Right, it can be hard to trust performance metrics that don’t align with what you’re seeing on the ground. Given all of your experience with different marketing channels, what makes Upside’s approach feel different for you?  

Edwards: Upside is different from other companies in the way that it’s presented and measured. They have a way of really measuring the effectiveness of what we get from the program. We’re able to see the number of transactions that happen each week, and we’re able to see those that are incremental. If it’s not incremental, then it’s not something we pay for. 

"We’re able to see the number of transactions that happen each week, and we’re able to see those that are incremental. If it’s not incremental, then it’s not something we pay for." 

The transparency behind what we’re able to see is number one for us. With Upside, there’s never been a feeling of, “I can’t believe what this returned,” that doesn’t match what we’re actually seeing in the restaurant.

Druet: The great thing about Upside is that we aren’t paying a lump sum of money beforehand and then crossing our fingers for results.

Upside: What were some of the early indications that Upside was working?

Druet: It took a couple of months for us to really wrap our heads around what you guys do. But the reporting said we’re making money and we’re always going to throw everything we can at bringing in new orders. That’s why it stuck. There have been lots of things we tried and haven’t gone back to for this reason or that reason, but this is one of the things that stuck.

Upside: We talk a lot about Upside being a powerful channel to attract customers that otherwise might not have considered Papa John’s. But you’re always focused on getting those customers to come back more than once. How does Upside fit into that strategy?

Edwards: Our strategy is to “get the next order.” While every order matters, repeat orders make or break our business. So, we seek out feedback and areas for improvement, like the accuracy of the order or delivery time. We’re looking for any data that indicates whether or not we’re going to get that next order. 

And if the information suggests we might not get repeat business, we do something proactively to change that. Upside's focus on value incentivizes customers to return, which fits hand-in-hand with our mantra of “getting the next order.”

Upside: To close this out, what would you say to a peer that’s considering Upside as a way to create value for customers and drive more incremental profit to their business?

Edwards: Upside is zero risk, high reward. We’re constantly looking to evolve, to find that next thing to bring in customers. Low risk is good enough, but Upside is no risk. And not only that, but the people we have worked with [at Upside] – the availability of these people and the depth of knowledge. It just feels genuine. There’s a genuine relationship there. There’s no reason not to do it.

"Upside is zero risk, high reward ... There’s no reason not to do it."

Q & A with Cascade Dining on their Upside experience

The Upside Team

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The Upside team is made up of data scientists and industry experts who are passionate about delivering empowering content to our readers. With a focus on providing practical insights and meaningful perspectives, we create engaging materials across a wide range of topics. From exploring industry trends and offering expert analysis to sharing useful tips and inspiring ideas, our team works diligently to provide you with the information you need to thrive.

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