Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

ALIWORLD 2019

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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48 While the company takes pride in its pizza, other MOD offerings bring people through the doors as well, from its No Name Cake (a chocolate cake with a buttercream center and a chocolate glaze) to its local craft beers to its marionberry lemonade. Another key differentiating factor, says Watson, is MOD's chewable ice, produced by an Ice-O-Matic GEM Series Pearl Ice ® Machine. "Our customers have come to expect it, and we get customer feedback on it. God forbid we ever changed. We would hear about it, definitely. It's a key part of the MOD experience at this point." Offering MOD's guests chewable Pearl Ice took more than just installing a machine above a soda dispenser, however. A great addition to any fountain drink, tea or lemonade, Pearl Ice is soft, longer-lasting and chewable. Pearl Ice dispenses smoothly and displaces liquid better than any other ice. According to Stephanie Wall, West Coast regional manager for Ice-O-Matic, dispens- ing chewable ice is notoriously difficult. The ice tends to clump together and not dispense well. This turned into a problem at the first few stores where MOD installed Ice-O-Matic ma- chines. After all, says Watson, on a hot summer day, "you're not going to sell many pizzas if you don't have cold soda." After encountering these troubles, other companies might have simply moved back to standard ice. Watson and the team at MOD decided to stick it out, however. In the stores where MOD had introduced chewable ice, he says, customers were very happy with the offer- ing. Taking the easy route and switching back to standard ice just wasn't the MOD way. "I don't want to use the word 'suffer,' but there are some things worth suffering for, and we were com- mitted to finding a solution," he says. Figuring out how to make the machines work with the soda dispenser took some effort and the cooperation of MOD, Ice-O-Matic, and its dealer, Smith and Greene. In the end, says Wall, the companies hit upon a solution. Ice-O-Matic learned how to calibrate its machines to make for easy dispensing. Those instructions now come with every Ice-O-Matic unit MOD receives, making it simple for the installer. Ice-O-Matic also devel- oped a kit for modifying the ice dispenser that accompanies each machine that goes to a MOD location. Since that time, the Ice-O-Matic units have worked smoothly with MOD's ice and beverage dispensers. This level of effort is what MOD expects from its vendors, according to Watson. The company runs lean with its facilities team, he adds. As a result, MOD needs its vendors to be true partners and step up when the time comes. "They're the experts. If we're having issues with the ice machine or the soda dispenser, we're looking to them for support. You won't be with us for long if you aren't willing to jump in and help us solve the problem." While the main challenge of dispensing chewable ice has been solved, MOD continues to expect —and receive — high-level service from Ice-O-Matic. Whenever there's an is- sue with a MOD ice machine, Ice-O-Matic is quick to respond with instructions for service technicians, parts sent overnight, or anything else that's needed, says Watson. "Everyone on my team has their email and leverages them for their expertise. I've never had them come back to me and say anything negative." This sort of responsiveness is important for many reasons, says Watson. Number one are the members of "the Squad," MOD's frontline employees. They're the ones, Watson stresses, who have to deal with dissatisfied customers when something goes wrong. It's important to Watson that he makes their lives as easy as pos- sible. "I and my team have a lot of empathy for the Squad, the people actually working in the stores," he says. "If it's a hot day and you don't have ice, it's the Squad that has to field those questions." From a more traditional business perspec- tive, though, the trust Ice-O-Matic has earned from MOD allows Watson's team to focus on big-picture challenges and goals. MOD, says Watson, is a design-driven company. No two stores look alike. The chain builds restaurants to suit the neighborhoods it serves. Finishes, fixtures and furnishings all change from location to location. With so much variation, there's naturally some trial and error with MOD's facilities — from chairs that aren't as sturdy as the company hoped to infrastructure issues. Instead of dealing with troublesome ice ma- chines, the facilities team, then, wants to focus "We've got this great ice, this great experience, yet we don't have extreme overhead and cost to accommodate that." Chewable Pearl Ice from Ice-O-Matic has become a favorite of MOD Pizza customers. The ice maker is installed over the soda dispenser. SUCCESS STORIES

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