Necessity being the mother of invention, Mo Sloan wondered in 2015 why he couldn’t order pizza online from Tony Boombozz. So, he decided to ask.
When he called, he was told the small, Louisville-based pizza restaurant chain said they were waiting for a solution that would integrate with their existing point of sale software. That’s when the idea for EZ-Chow came to Sloan.
A former application architect for Papa John’s, he was looking for a project to keep his development skills honed, and this idea was it. He started writing code in spring of 2015 and had a product ready to test by that fall. With EZ-Chow, restaurants can get a customized solution that not only integrates with their point of sale but also seamlessly blends with the brand, he says.
While a competing app has gobbled up many large chains, such as Qdoba, Sloan and a business partner, Sallie Clark, have sought out smaller companies for growth. Locally, they have built solutions for Mark’s Feed Store, while Joella’s, the hot-chicken chain launched by the Boombozz founder Tony Palombino, was the beta test and is still using the app.
Old Louisville Tavern and Toonerville Deli also are using online ordering apps developed by EZ-Chow, which includes Sloan, Clark and a pair of full-time designers, Harrison Wainright and Anthony Sego, plus a couple of part-time employees.
There’s also a silent partner in the business.
But EZ-Chow has created integrated solutions for restaurant partners regionally, nationally and beyond, with one customer, a Carl’s Jr., in Mexico. Sloan said it took until 2017 for EZ-Chow to reach $1 million in transactions processed.
Currently, the company averages that much every two months.
EZ-Chow now has roughly 300 restaurant locations either actively using the software or in development, and on average those restaurants report a 26 percent increase in online takeout and delivery sales since utilizing their custom apps.
The pricing model is a flat monthly licensing fee, plus a small additional fee per transaction.
“It’s a very equitable solution,” said Sloan
He added when restaurants use other, non-integrated third-party delivery apps, such as Postmates, they typically lose control over branding and customer relations. In addition, it adds labor, because the orders still must be entered into the existing POS, and increases the possibility of errors and customer dissatisfaction.
Meanwhile, using a delivery company such as Uber Eats also means losing a percentage of the sale, and then still being left waiting to be reimbursed by the third party once it’s all said and done, Sloan said.
“On a $50 order, they may lose $10 or $15,” he said.
That’s why the next step is a fully integrated delivery system that also would pull in the third-party delivery vehicle. That solution is now in beta testing with Old Louisville Tavern.
Clark and Sloan met through mutual friends while the former was working with a similar company with a non-integrated product. When she heard Sloan’s idea, she was intrigued.
“I quickly realized this solution was much better than the non-integrated,” she said, adding that Sloan’s work ethic was another reason she wanted to invest in EZ-Chow. “He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever witnessed.”
EZ-Chow now has developed solutions for fast food restaurants, fast casual restaurants and stand-alone casual restaurants. They have a Logan’s Roadhouse franchisee in the Carolinas and the partner in Mexico is a Carl’s Jr. And while Clark gives Sloan credit for being hard-working, he’s more inclined to believe the idea and the need has been the driver.
“None of us is an entrepreneur,” Sloan said. “At the end of the day, we’re a tech company. We just found a niche.”