A Million Dollar Idea A $55 Idea

$55. One may think at a million-dollar-a-year-company, that kind of money won’t move the needle. That “One” is not Aaron Engler.

When a company “conservatively averages $55 a day in missed revenue,” that amounts to $20,000 a year, or 2 percent of annual revenue. In the restaurant industry, where Engler worked for restaurant insights company Delaget since 2011, margins are low and 2 percent can be the difference between an annual profit or loss.

At the urging of one of his professors, Aaron Engler ’12 M.B.A., entered a restaurant ranking idea into the Fowler Business Concept Challenge. He won the graduate division competition in 2012, then pitched the idea at Delaget.

“I had an idea, but hadn’t really worked on making it a product,” said Engler. “The Fowler reaffirmed to me that it was a good idea. The feedback I got from judges, students and professors, was what led me to proposing the idea to the rest of the people at Delaget.”

Engler used his Fowler presentation, with a few modifications, and the company got behind the concept. A little less than a year later, and COACH, Engler’s Fowler submission, launched a mobile dashboard. It’s been used with great success in Taco Bell restaurants and is now rolling out into Pizza Hut and IHOP.

COACH connects the dots of costs, speed of service, product upsells, star and struggling employees, and more, and measures it against each store’s goals. Managers compare employee strengths and weaknesses, giving them the insights to utilize them appropriately, while seeing where their store ranks with others. This combination shows them missed revenue, which Engler has seen at more than $1,000 a day in some struggling stores.

“COACH is changing the culture in a restaurant,” Engler added. “It gives managers an opportunity to recognize employees that are in first place, but also lets them coach those who need improvement.

“Restaurants want to see the dollars and see the impact of what’s happening in their stores. A lot of managers in the quick service industry are awarded bonuses on these metrics, so it’s even more important for them to do well.”

$55 a day. Just enough to pique the interest of a student, his company, and an international restaurant chain.

“I never would have pitched to this company if not for the Fowler. I probably wouldn't have done anything with it, so I give the Fowler the credit for where this is today.”