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Perk Labs helps hospitality organizations looking for new ways to adopt technology in order to streamline costs –

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Perk Labs looks to empower business owners with digital tools to provide their customers with experiences that are more engaging, convenient and rewarding
Perk Labs CEO Jonathan Hoyles talks about how restaurants are rebuilding their businesses in a post-pandemic world, and why this kind of technology adoption was inevitable – COVID-19 pandemic or not
Lately it seems like the restaurant industry just can’t catch a break. After more than two years of stops and starts throughout the pandemic, businesses now face record inflation and rising food costs that pummel the bottom line. Compounding the situation, many restaurants are still well below normal staffing levels and are working to rebuild their teams back to pre-pandemic levels, according to the National Restaurant Association.
It’s an industry that is crying out for help after facing unprecedented challenges, and that is where Vancouver’s Perk Labs Inc comes into the picture. The technology company is on a mission to empower business owners with digital tools to provide their customers with experiences that are more engaging, convenient and rewarding.
Through its Perk Hero platform, the company enables businesses to offer QR-code-powered ordering and payment, digital loyalty rewards and mobile marketing. It is growing through a community-driven digital franchise business that is available to entrepreneurs at an attractive start-up price.
In this exclusive interview with Proactive, Perk Labs CEO Jonathan Hoyles talks about how restaurants are rebuilding their businesses in a post-pandemic world, and why this kind of technology adoption was inevitable – COVID-19 pandemic or not.
Give us a quick introduction to the company. What is Perk Hero and where does it fit within the concept of digital franchising?
Perk Labs, through its Perk Hero platform, is focused on two main products. One is digital dine-in, which enables a restaurant to place QR codes on their tables, and guests can scan the QR code. It brings up a digital menu in the guest’s browser on their smartphone, where they can order and pay. The restaurant will then receive notification of the order and also receive the payment. All the restaurant needs to do is prepare the food and bring it out to the guests. It really helps to streamline the restaurant’s business and help them to serve their customers with less staff, which is very relevant right now to meet the labor shortage challenge.
The other main product that we offer is a custom branded app that we build for restaurants. We can use that platform to then customize the app with the restaurant’s own brand or their logo. The app supports things like online ordering for pickup and self-managed delivery. With that, the restaurant gets access to all of our back end systems to see analytics and reporting and manage their digital menu, set up promotions, and other features as well.
We also have digital loyalty programs, so a restaurant guest earns rewards every time they’re making a payment. There’s also a downloadable merchant app that’s similar to how Uber Eats and DoorDash work in that they provide the restaurant with a merchant app on a tablet. When the restaurant guest places the order through their browser, the restaurant receives notification of that order on their tablet, and it’ll tell them the table number that the order is coming from. Our downloadable merchant app also supports online ordering for pick-up or delivery through a restaurant’s existing website as well.
What are the other solutions on the market like?
We’re definitely starting to see more and more competition in the space, but there is still a wide-open opportunity in North America because there’s no real dominant player for this technology. When you go to restaurants using our solution you will see we’ve designed our user experience to be interactive and simple, which really differentiates us. Unlike our competitors that are imitating delivery apps and stuffing their product full of complicated features, we are doing the opposite: we’ve designed our product for an in-restaurant experience and removed as many steps as possible.
We actually started out as a mobile application where customers could order and pay through the app, but what we found was that people don’t want to have to download an app in the restaurant, because they don’t want to use their phone data and it’s just an additional point of friction. So that’s why we’ve made it a web-based app that can be used through your browser. That is one key difference between how our solution is implemented and how other solutions like Alipay or WeChat work.
Another thing unique about our business is how we are expanding through a digital franchise program. We sign up a franchisee, that franchisee gets an exclusive territory, and then all of the restaurants in that territory get 70% of the revenue from the software subscription, and we take 30% of the remaining revenue.
It’s come at a time when restaurants are facing all sorts of changes that the pandemic has brought. Do you think that the restaurant business would have gone in this direction anyway, had it not been for COVID?
Absolutely, I think that’s where things are headed. The pandemic has accelerated that adoption. We already see it happening in other parts of the world, like China. What’s interesting about China is that they essentially leapfrogged having the financial infrastructure and went directly to  mobile “super apps” like Alipay and WeChat. Before the pandemic, we were only offering the payment in the restaurant. People weren’t that familiar, or comfortable, with QR codes, and the restaurants didn’t necessarily believe in QR codes either. That’s completely changed since COVID – now QR codes are everywhere.
The National Restaurant Association in the US puts conducts a survey with restaurants every year, and one of the findings from their recent report is that around one in seven restaurant operators say that their restaurant doesn’t currently have enough employees to meet the customer demand, which is critical because now, people are back to traveling and dining out. The report also looks at where restaurants are looking to invest. Turns out, they’re looking to improve their technology – things like app ordering, reservations, mobile payment, delivery management, back of the house technology, to streamline their operations. There’s always going to be a place for high-end restaurants that offer a more intimate experience for diners. And some restaurants are reluctant to introduce technology, or they want their differentiator to be a traditional approach to hospitality. But I think they are in the minority. Casual dining locations are struggling, because they can’t hire enough staff to serve their customers, and they need digital tools to operate their business. They’ve also seen huge increases in their costs when it comes to ingredients because of inflation and wages.
We’re also seeing that restaurants are interested in having their own mobile app, especially where there’s a loyalty program involved. Loyalty is a big trend right now, especially with a looming recession as more consumers become cost-conscious. In the restaurant industry, businesses are looking for loyalty solution providers, combined with mobile ordering.
Bringing it back to Perk Labs, what’s next for the company?
The next big advancement for us is our POS integration that we’re working on. We’re working with a third party that will open up about a hundred different POS integrations for us. It’ll be a game changer for us. Having that POS integration is basically a mandatory requirement for restaurant chains, and it will allow us to service bigger brands. At the same time, we’re also building out our own native integrations directly into the restaurant POS, which is a big one on our roadmap.
It certainly sounds like an exciting time for the company. Is there anything that you wanted to add?
The trend is towards restaurants investing in technology to streamline their business. Technology helps solve the challenge of ongoing labor shortages and the pressures that restaurants are feeling due to inflation and dependencies on apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Our focus is on expanding to as many restaurants as quickly as we can and growing our revenues. With our investments in our technology and upcoming advancements such as POS integrations, we expect it will open up a lot of doors for us to be able to provide our services to bigger chains. As we introduce some of the more enterprise type features and our products become more mature, it’s really going to open the opportunity for bigger customers. All of this is supported through a unique digital franchise business model. That’s our distribution model and how we plan to expand.
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The above has been published by Proactive Investors Limited (the “Company”) on its website and is made available subject to the terms and conditions of use of its website (see T&C ). …
Perk Labs CEO Jonathan Hoyles and Chairman Kirk Herrington joined Steve Darling from Proactive to share news the company has put out its 2nd quarter financials and in that the company says they have made significant changes to the business Hoyles shared with Proactive more about those changes…
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