Interview with Jon Pickel, Owner of Tower Drive-in Theater and FanFood venue partner.
“First night, we set ourselves up to fail — and it turned out to be our busiest night so far.”It’s only been a week since FanFood debuted at Tower Drive-in Theater, but one in five customers are already ordering on the app instead of at the concession stand. “I was skeptical in the beginning whether FanFood is going to increase my sales,” said Jon Pickel, owner of Tower Drive-in Theater. “So far we are seven nights in and my [revenue] per cap of the whole night has gone up by about $1.25.” Another added bonus? The long lines that used to be at the concession stand are now gone. In fact, getting rid of the concession line was the initial trigger for Jon to start exploring mobile ordering solutions for drive-in theater. He had been brainstorming with his team for the perfect product that could cut down long lines without hurting sales (which, in the conventional world of concession sales, are correlated). That is, until he came across FanFood at a drive-in theater convention in Florida. “I think [FanFood] would work,” Jon said. “That’s exactly what I need.” Despite the conviction, Jon kept his anticipation low on the first night when FanFood was implemented. There were doubts in his head as to whether the app could actually work — since it was his first time seeing a mobile ordering app in action at a drive-in theater (frankly, ours too!). “It turned out to be our busiest night so far.” Jon recalled. Although it rained for two nights consecutively thereafter, customers’ high adoption rate of the app and their enthusiasm to try it out has been consistent. On busier night, it’s common that over 20% of all theater attendees were ordering on FanFood—and people absolutely loved receiving food in their car seats. “I’d be handing out flyers about FanFood at the ticketing booth, telling them to download the app,” Jon said. “The vast majority said ‘that’s cool! I’ll do that!’” The theater has not held back on their marketing push either. Fortunately, Tower Drive-In has maintained a huge loyal customer base on Facebook, where people go to check out the showing schedule. FanFood is also given a prominent spot on the theater’s website to inform people of the new service. And the technology of the app is simple enough that anyone could pick it up in no time. “Y’all hit a pretty good home run on how that [the app] works,” Jon told us.