Villa Restaurant Group Harnesses Yext to Maintain Brand Consistency
Restaurant operator and franchisor Villa Restaurant Group started out in 1964 as a single, family-owned store called Villa Pizza. Now with over 300 restaurants, the company has evolved considerably since that first pizzeria. Today, Villa Restaurant Group provides high-quality dining experiences in 42 states and Puerto Rico, as well as five other countries. Among its brands are quick service restaurants including Villa Italian Kitchen, Green Leaf’s Beyond Great Salads, Bananas Smoothies & Frozen Yogurt, and South Philly Cheesesteaks & Fries — and Villa Restaurant Group’s full service division of casual and fine dining restaurants, 40NORTH Restaurants.
“Our restaurants are primarily in food courts in malls and airports, which makes our strategy a little different from most companies,” explains Mimi Wunderlich, Director of Digital Marketing Strategy and Communications. “For example, last year we opened 6 new restaurants, and redid the entire eating area with new seating and a large video wall in the Southwest Terminal at the Orlando airport. These high-volume locations have a unique customer base with unique needs, and marketing them is different from how you would market a standalone restaurant.”
Digital knowledge is an important aspect of Villa Restaurant Group’s marketing strategy. “Whether it’s simply making sure our listings are accurate, or optimizing that information so people can get directions or call a restaurant, it’s critical that we’re in control,” says Wunderlich.
Villa Restaurant Group sought help from Yext to solve the particular challenge of locations within locations, so that their customers know where exactly to find their restaurants within a mall’s food court, for example, instead of seeing a pin at the mall’s mailing address or parking lot.
“Because we are in malls and airports, our list of locations is not a specific pin drop location list,” explains Lauren Liuzzi, Digital Marketing Strategy and Communications Manager. “And of course, we have a corporate office that is not in a mall or airport. We don’t want information for that office coming up when someone is searching for a restaurant. On top of that, there are some locations where we have two stores — an upper level and a lower level — and that was confusing to a lot of the maps and directories. So that was an ongoing issue.”
Villa Restaurant Group Ensures Customers Can Find the Restaurants They’re Looking For, With the Yext Knowledge Engine
Villa Restaurant Group uses the Yext Listings, Pages, and Reviews to manage the public facts about its brand. The Yext Knowledge Engine enables brands like Villa Restaurant Group to manage the digital knowledge about their restaurants across their websites, mobile apps, internal systems, and the entire Knowledge Network — the industry’s largest ecosystem of maps, apps, search engines, GPS systems, and social networks including Google, Apple, Facebook, Bing, and Yahoo.
“Most of the other companies we were evaluating at the time put a lot of weight into aggregators,” explains Liuzzi. “Yext was really helpful about explaining how this API is different. With Yext, we can really have that quick service, and lock down our information. The fact that Yext doesn’t use aggregators was a big plus. Ultimately, that is one of the main reasons we went with Yext.”
Now with over 20,000 live listings, Villa Restaurant Group has significantly improved the digital knowledge about its brand. In its first 9 months with Yext, the company experienced a 94% year-over-year growth in impressions. Over the same period, Villa Restaurant Group saw a 110% increase in clicks to Get Directions, a 186% increase in clicks to Website, and a 129% increase in clicks to Call.
Wunderlich is pleased with her team’s decision to use the Yext Knowledge Engine. “We really enjoy working with Yext and hope to keep growing the relationship,” she says. “Implementing new technology like this is not something that we do every day. It’s a big investment and we believe it’s worth it.”