The Journey to Milagro: How One Business’s Frustrations Led to a Revolutionary Restaurant Operating System

Milagro's journey began in 2010 when we were fortunate enough to work with a small restaurant company. a Revolutionary Restaurant Operating System
January 5, 2023

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Home » Blog » The Journey to Milagro: How One Business’s Frustrations Led to a Revolutionary Restaurant Operating System

Our company’s journey began in 2010 when we were fortunate enough to work with a small restaurant company called Genghis Grill. Our first project was to develop a proactive employee theft prevention software to automatically alert the appropriate staff of any suspicious activity. This project taught us the importance of providing business value, i.e. a solution that was worth more than the underlying problem. This became the core foundational value of Milagro.

At the time, NCR’s POS system, Aloha, was unable to meet the needs of our client and was very inflexible, just as much as they are today, some 12 years later. The lack of imagination of NCR’s executive team along with NCR’s efforts to suppress innovation in the restaurant industry in order to protect its monopoly has single-handedly made the lives of restaurant owners more difficult over the years.

We did our best to reverse-engineer a solution that became a game-changer. Instead of the manager constantly being on alert and randomly reviewing transactions, or having the POS system integrated with a camera system, we created an algorithm that detected suspicious transactions and proactively emailed them to the manager. This significantly reduced the manager’s workload and allowed them to only review 25 to 30 transactions per day that were either suspicious or did not follow established procedures. The app was so effective that we also began auditing the gift card and loyalty app in the restaurants.

A year later we took on another challenge to build a customer experience management software to get to gain insight into the guest experience. Despite having no prior knowledge of how to measure customer experience, nor a clear understanding of NPS, we decided to approach the problem from the perspective of the guests of the restaurant.

By taking a different approach and not following the traditional industry standards, we were able to use this opportunity to drive revenue through integration to POS and social media. Customers with positive experiences were encouraged to share their experiences across social media platforms. In addition, we used strong offers to increase the average visit of the customer, therefore increasing sales by a staggering 22%. This lack of experience and challenging the status quo became a competitive advantage that allowed us to turn a the passive customer experience tool into an active revenue center.

Oh and of course, we solved the underlying problem by providing a platform for customers with negative experiences to voice their frustrations and proactively informing relevant parties to ensure that their feedback was heard and addressed. This helped to improve the overall customer experience.

At the time Genghis Grill had cracked the code on email marketing and had built an impressive 1.2 million active users in their database, an unheard metric in the industry in 2010. They were absolutely crushing it, better than the best in the industry at the time. But they consistently communicated the exact same message to every customer regardless of their shopping behavior, so naturally, we thought we could do much better by creating a “Target Marketing” App that would gather the information from different sources in order to create a customized marketing message to every customer. To us, it was absurd to send 1.2 million emails to all customers on a Tuesday informing them that kids eat free when at least 50% of those customers did not even have kids.

Despite a great deal of success, we had set our expectations so high that we did not meet our own goals. So my partner and I decided to shut the company down after Genghis Grill decided not to proceed forward with the full-blown project, a Restaurant Operating System.

The project always remained an unsolved mystery, a mystery that no one was looking to solve. The idea was pitched to several people but everyone deemed it possible due to the extent of the project, capital requirements, and the complications of interconnecting all of the apps to gather the information and successfully monetize on the customer data.

In 2016, we were struggling with a series of challenges trying to manage our business operation. Having eight or nine different apps and vendors which were required in order to manage our business was becoming a real challenge. It was excruciating to train employees for two or three months on all the different apps only to realize they were unqualified or quit after six months. Duplicate entries into multiple platforms, not getting paid for work done, having to pay multiple subscriptions, we’d had enough. After about six months of the unsuccessful hunt to find an all-in-one platform that was easy to use, simple, and cost-effective, we threw in the towel and decided to build our own platform. The Business Operating System started in June 2016 and by late 2018 we had a solid working solution.

Realizing that we had built the core business operating system for restaurants, In late 2019 we decided to give The restaurant platform another chance. Once we had a minimum viable product, which was technically an iPhone 1, we pitched the idea to Cristina’s Mexican Restaurant, they were all extremely excited but after some 45 minutes, they said that the data is incredible but useless, WHAT?! The answer was simple, we have no idea how to monetize it. That sent us back to the drawing board to solve the next part of the puzzle. This was another pivotal point in our roadmap. We decided that we must gather all of the customer transactional data automatically, we had to sort through it and take action to monetize it on the behalf of the restaurants because they did not have the technical knowledge nor the time to learn the technology.

Fast forward to today, Milagro automatically gathers all of the customer’s transactional data, real-time tags, and sorts the data, and will automatically take action by sending the right marketing message at the right time through the right channel to the right customer. But we did not stop there, as usual, we pushed the boundaries and even track the ROI of each customer, how much each customer spend in exchange for each marketing dollar spent.

Today our 4 core competencies are:

  1. Automatically gather actionable transactional data about every customer without the staff doing anything different than what they do today
  2. Automatically monetize customers’ transactional data by sending the right message at the right time through the right channel to the right customer. A very highly targeted marketing message that increases sales
  3. Automatically Measure the return on investment of every marketing campaign and every customer. Double down on the most successful campaigns and eliminate the Unprofitable ones
  4. Combine 15 critical applications into a single platform to save you headache, reduce operation complexity, reduce cost, and provide exceptional value

What does the future look like?

We are transforming the restaurant industry, one brand at a time. We are bringing the technology that has made billions for the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and many other technology companies to the restaurant industry. Restaurants have always lagged in the adoption of technology which has put them at a great disadvantage, we are going to fix that.

We strongly believe that restaurants are very profitable businesses to own and operate, therefore, We are going to leverage our expertise in technology to partner with amazing restaurant brands and start-ups to help them be profitable, efficient, and scalable. We will make active financial investments and bring on the expertise that only larger brands can afford.

By focusing on our customers and delivering exceptional products and services that are not found anywhere else, we have set an aggressive goal to be a billion-dollar company by 2025. We believe that almost all the other providers are a copycat of another cat, i.e. Aloha. Since the original cat was nothing to brag about, we mean Aloha, all the copycats are just as bad as Aloha. Our unique position as both the creator and the end-user of our services gives us an unfair advantage to solve real problems, be agile in our approach, and bring about a new era in the restaurant industry

Lastly, if you are a current Aloha user, be sure to let our staff know in order to make you an exclusive offer directly from our CEO.

Good riddance Aloha

Signed Milagro 2022

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