Q&A: SYNQ3 CEO Steve Bigari
SYNQ3 Restaurant Solutions is coming to OKC and bringing 300 flexible, part-time jobs with them. According to NewsOK, “SYNQ3 Restaurant Solutions works with restaurants to provide an aggregated call-ahead ordering system for consumers. More than 20 restaurants use SYNQ3, including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Red Robin, P.F. Chang's and McAlister's Deli.” To celebrate their arrival, we called SYNQ3 CEO Steve Bigari and asked him some questions about SYNQ3 and their upcoming move.
VeloCity: Could you tell us about the advantages SYNQ3 gives to your partner restaurants and consumers?
Bigari: We synchronized people processing technology with the guests at the center to give every restaurant guest a world-class experience. So for example, if you order take-out from one of our brands—P.F.Chang’s—the second time you call back they’re going to say, “Hi, welcome back! Last time you had this, do you want that again? Oh, I see you have a gluten issue, let’s make sure we get that right.” So we’re able to give you a world-class experience on every interaction. That’s the primary benefit for a client.
Can you tell us about how you went from McDonald’s to SYNQ3?
I was a McDonald’s operator and the drive-thru wasn’t moving fast enough. This was back in 2000. So, I decided we were going to reinvent it. And we kept moving the speakers around and eventually got to a point where we needed three lanes and then realized that we had to move the calls somewhere else because you can’t take three calls from one restaurant, right? So we created a drive-thru solution that was a triple-lane drive thru that set, and still holds, by the way, the drive-thru world record—374 cars in an hour. And that technology became so widely seen—it was featured in The World is Flat—and so visible to the rest of the restaurant industry for enhancing guest experience, for raising transaction counts and sales, that we started getting contacted by a number of restaurants outside of McDonald’s. That and some other personal goals are what caused me to sell McDonald’s and start SYNQ3.
That’s impressive. What made you choose OKC for SYNQ3?
We actually looked at, gosh, more than a dozen cities. And tons of criteria. First and most important, high-quality employees with a hospitality-focused background. Right? People who love to serve. And that’s the first thing I noticed when I visited there was just how kind the folks were and just—you know, it’s just such a wonderful environment. There are many, many other factors that help our local employees have a higher standard of living. You know, it’s a very affordable, clean, wonderful place to live. We want to be in cities that are awesome, that you want to raise kids in. So, this is just the first of many cities we’ll go to, but we’re very excited by all the things that OKC has to offer.
Is there anything you’re most excited about regarding OKC?
It’s the people. I think they’re wonderful, absolutely. What else do you need but wonderful people? You know, I greet all the new hires, and I had a Skype visit with all the new hires today. And even on the computer they’re just glowing and asking great questions and engaged, and it’s a lot of fun.
Speaking of people, we know that SYN3 provides flexible working hours and the ability to work from home. Can you tell us about what kind of people you’re looking for in OKC?
We really prefer people who want to work from home. We have a small office so we can only offer work from home. We give them the equipment, we pay them for training, they are W2 employees, not contractors, they work for me. So we prefer part-timers because most of our work comes in the evenings and weekends and so we really prefer someone who has another career--we have a lot of professional people. Students, college students, even high school students, who are available nights and weekends are our favorites because that’s when you go out to eat, right? And the beautiful thing for them is that if they’re in school or have a day job, they can pick up a few hours every night and make some additional income. Now we do have full-time shifts available; we’re about to just open another class for full-timers in Oklahoma City. So it’s both full-time and part-time, but we really prefer people that are able to work flexible hours. And they say, “I can work these days from these hours,” and we’ll only schedule those. We really prefer folks who can have weekend and evening availability.
Any closing thoughts?
We’re about transformation and transforming the environment and the restaurant industry and to me it’s very exciting to do it first. You know, we’ve done it from Colorado Springs; we have agents in three other states who’ve moved there. We have some near-shore capabilities for our Spanish-speaking guests. But Oklahoma City represents the first time we’ve taken a large scale transformation out to another city and to me it’s just really exciting because you guys are pioneering something I think that’s going to revolutionize the restaurant industry, and people are going to point to Oklahoma City and say, “Hey that’s the first one!” and to me, that’s really cool.