Another Broken Egg Cafe is one of the fastest growing brands in the daytime restaurant segment. With more than 80 locations, including corporate and franchise restaurants, across 15 American states, Another Broken Egg is a thriving table-service option for breakfast, brunch and lunch enthusiasts alike. However, as a daytime-only restaurant, the brand has had to master making all of its profits in a dining schedule limited to the morning and early afternoon hours. Average unit volume (sometimes abbreviated to AUV) is an essential success metric for this quickly-expanding franchise.
In this blog post, we’ll unpack the average unit volume definition and how to calculate average unit volume. Then we’ll explore how some changes to Another Broken Egg’s tech stack have dramatically changed the chain’s ability to serve a higher number of customers in less time, and how that has positively impacted its AUV.
The average unit volume meaning is the calculation of the total company-operated sales divided by the total company operated units. That means, when calculating average unit volume, restaurants should consider all of their stores in operation as well as the sales for all of those locations.
This is an important measure of a restaurant brand’s success because it highlights what a location can expect to generate in sales, a figure that is especially useful in both general forecasting and in attracting new owners to a franchise operation. When it comes to average unit volume calculation, the number can be considered as a whole or subdivided in a few different ways.
For example, you could look at AUV for a specific geographical subset when exploring possibilities for new restaurant placement. Franchise average unit volume vs. corporate-owned average unit volume could also be helpful as brands assess their overall operational performance and look for areas to improve. If one restaurant type has a consistently better AUV than the other, operators should explore what’s working better for franchise locations vs. corporate ones (or vice versa) and make adjustments accordingly.
Returning to the case study at hand, Another Broken Egg Cafe didn’t necessarily launch their time and motion study with the goal of changing average unit volume at their restaurants. But when President and CEO Paul Macaluso took the helm at the restaurant’s corporate headquarters, he knew he wanted to benchmark the status of many measurements at the brand to uncover areas of opportunity. Afterall, daytime breakfast restaurants are in an increasingly competitive and crowded space. It’s important for brands to hone in on their differentiators and make those clear to their customers.
“Brunch is a very social experience and we lean heavily into that,” Macaluso says. “We have a full bar, and we have some of our cafes do over 20% of their sales in alcohol, which is pretty wild to think when you consider that we’re only open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.”
With that short service window in mind, speed of service, and ultimately, speed of table turns, quickly emerged as key areas of focus for Macaluso and his team at Another Broken Egg. Many daytime diners have experienced a brunch rush, where the estimated time to be seated is so lengthy that backup plans soon surface for the hungry potential patrons. And even for those willing to wait, serving fewer people in the same timeframe means fewer dollars for a restaurant that day.
To get to the bottom of how to prevent visitors from searching for alternate options for “daytime restaurants near me” while still on Another Broken Egg property, Macaluso identified a third-party company to lead a time and motion study for the brand. Among the study’s findings was the fact that new technology would be key in unlocking operational efficiencies for table service at the brand’s restaurants.
“It became apparent that we needed an overhaul to our POS system,” he says.
There were a few reasons Macaluso arrived at this conclusion. Continue reading as we explore those further.
When Macaluso joined the team at Another Broken Egg, the restaurants were all operating on a legacy point of sale system vs. a modern cloud POS platform. As a result, order entry was significantly hindering their service efficiency.
With the legacy system, wait staff would manually write orders down for each of their assigned tables, walk to a POS station in the restaurant, occasionally wait in a queue at the station if other staff were in front of them entering orders of their own or ringing up table checks, manually transferring orders from their notes to the POS, and then sending those orders to a ticket printer in the kitchen for order firing.
“Mobile order takers were a big opportunity for us,” says Macaluso. “The ability to have a mobile order taker, right there at the table side, place orders in real time as guests explain them—through the time and motion study—we saw that this saved us 3.6 minutes per order in terms of getting orders to the kitchen faster.”
On its own, 3.6 minutes might sound trivial. When multiplied per table, per restaurant location and per day, however, the time saving potential was impossible to ignore.
Another quickly apparent area for improvement existed outside of the four walls of each restaurant. When Macaluso joined the team, Another Broken Egg restaurants were doing a meager 2% of sales to-go with no online ordering solution. All off-premises orders were still coming in over the phone.
“I thought, well, there’s a huge opportunity. We’ve got to figure that out,” he says.
As with the mobile order takers, Macaluso’s team tested an online ordering solution that integrated with a cloud-based POS. It turned out, online orders were a very popular option for those seeking daytime dining options.
Even after Another Broken Egg reopened their dining rooms following pandemic closures, online orders continued flowing in steadily.
“Over 15% of our sales are to-go, both through online ordering and third-party [orders],” says Macaluso.
Able to satiate guests with their daytime diner menu even when those customers order and eat elsewhere, this addition to the restaurant’s service solutions was a digital avenue for expanding the brand’s reach.
Especially with new ordering channels like online ordering, smooth kitchen operations became more important than ever in improved and sustained service speed for Another Broken Egg’s guests.
One solution the team tested for kitchen management was Revel’s kitchen display system (KDS), a digital solution that displays orders for kitchen staff as they come in through the POS or online channels.
“We launched kitchen display systems, so KDS units, where formerly we had a printer,” says Macaluso. “We actually went with five KDS screens, one specifically for to-go orders because it’s such a big part of our business. Through the time and motion study we saw that restaurants using KDS systems were saving about a minute per order in the back of the house. So all of these things are starting to add up to quicker table turns.”
Thanks in no small part to the time and motion study findings, Another Broken Egg Cafe saw repeated benefits to digitizing various components of their overall operations. Able to add convenience and efficiency to their already sought-after full service breakfast, brunch, lunch and cocktail experience, the brand has continued to elevate their offerings in a competitive and lucrative space.
“When I joined the company in 2019 the average unit volume was $1.5 million,” says Macaluso. “We’re approaching $1.9 million today. And technology has been a huge part of the reason why.”
Another Broken Egg Cafe is a restaurant chain that understands the value of data, and will continue to periodically review and adjust their processes to attain the best possible results. Whether assessing average unit volume vs. same store sales or other valuable data insights, they will continuously strive for the best balance between digital solutions and a personal touch.
Hungry for even more insights? Watch this webinar recording to hear directly from Paul Macaluso.