Red Robin uses Anaplan to scale financial budgeting and forecasting for 400+ restaurants

Markus Lonnquist of Red Robin shares how the company replaced countless spreadsheets with Anaplan and enabled real-time collaboration across operations in the U.S.

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Markus Lonnquist: Red Robin is a casual dining restaurant. We specialize in gourmet burgers. We have over 400 corporate-owned restaurants that we do annual forecasting and budgeting in. We do basically P&L and G&L account budgeting in Anaplan. We probably have 400+ corporate restaurants, and each restaurant had a spreadsheet that had multiple tabs to provide the metrics for their score card. It was complex to put together, it was time-consuming—and that has now been replaced by one central location, one access point, with the correct hierarchy so that the operators, their regional directors, and the regional vice presidents can drill down and look at all this information in one central location.

We were using old planning tools in conjunction with a lot of spreadsheets. And the limitations of that is we were growing quite heavily—we were literally running out of space, out of room, and had dimensionality issues with those old tools. Spreadsheets didn’t allow for collaboration and live interaction with the data. And so, Anaplan is really being able to to combine those things and enable us to provide daily updates to the operators. The biggest benefit to us was really the scalability, plus the functionality and flexibility of the toolset. And we truly look at Anaplan’s platform as one that our operation can leverage.

Business reasons for us to move to Anaplan was looking for solutions that could meet our growth strategies. It was looking for solutions to simplify our team member’s lives, as well as ultimately not losing focus on the guest and the guest experience—solutions that would allow the general managers to leave the back office and spend more time with the guests versus spending time putting together spreadsheets and analytics.

Anaplan is unique in a sense of being a cloud platform application where we do not have IT involved in the development of the models—it is solely handled by the financial planning and analytics team, and IT plays a support role. Providing the data—accurate, timely, consistent data—to the models is our responsibility. The model building and the management and administration is completely handled by the FP&A team themselves.

We can make better, more informed, more timely decisions based on the information we get from Anaplan. I’ve been in IT for 15-plus years—when you buy applications, when you buy solutions, you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop: what’s going to happen what’s not going to work. It [Anaplan] actually works and I never felt oversold.

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