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2024 Best Practices Agenda

Monday, February 26th

Day One

Monday, February 26th

1:00 - 5:00 p.m.


Join us early at registration to grab your badge and our signature swag before we kick off the afternoon.

3:00 - 3:15 p.m.

General Session: Opening Remarks

Welcome conference attendees and sponsors!

David Cantu
Chief Executive Officer, Black Box Intelligence

3:15 - 4:00 p.m.

Opening Keynote: Monica Rothgery, author of forthcoming book 'Lessons from the Drive-Thru'

In this session, Monica Rothgery will share insights on empowering frontline leaders as the enabler to growing sales and profits.

A powerful story-teller, Monica will share observations from visiting thousands of restaurants over her thirty year career. She will share the leadership difference between all-star managers and those who struggle with a path to help all operators discover and do "what is theirs to do".

Monica Rothgery
Author of forthcoming book, 'Lessons from the Drive-Thru'

4:00 - 4:45 p.m.

Box Talks: State of the Workforce

Reflecting on the pivotal lessons from recent years, we observe the dynamic evolution of the workforce trends that have contributed to the most severe labor crisis in decades.

Victor Fernandez
VP of Insights & Knowledge, Black Box Intelligence

Amy Valentine
Director of Customer Success, Black Box Intelligence

4:45 - 5:30 p.m.

Panel: Managing and Retaining in a New Operating Era

Join us for a dynamic panel discussion where industry experts will tackle three pivotal aspects of the restaurant industry's evolution.
- Learn essential strategies for driving consistency across the entire dining experience, from ambiance to service standards.
- Delve into the art of seamlessly blending human touch with technological innovations to ensure sustainable growth in today's competitive landscape.
- Gain valuable insights into how shifting consumer trends are shaping workforce and operational investments in 2024, and discover actionable strategies to stay ahead of the curve.
Don't miss this opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge from our panelists and elevate your restaurant's success.
Moderated by: Mary Hamill, Chief Customer Officer
Mandy Monk
Chief People Officer, True Food Kitchen
Pat Walsh
Chief People Officer, Potbelly Sandwich Works
Patrick Sterling
VP of Legendary People, Texas Roadhouse

5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

Networking Reception

Indulge in a delightful selection of beer, wine, and beverages, accompanied by networking-friendly snacks. Afterward, visit any of the walkable restaurants to enjoy dinner in a more intimate setting.

Day Two

Tuesday, February 27th

8:00 - 9:00 a.m.


Get your breakfast classics and be sure to fuel up. We have a lot to discuss, learn, and celebrate today! For attendees that join us early, we're providing complimentary headshots during this time. Your photos will be sent straight to your inbox before the conference begins!

9:00 - 9:05 a.m.

Welcome Best Practices Attendees!

Conference highlights through the years. 

9:05 - 9:45 a.m.

The Business of Joy: Understanding Today's Consumer

Lisa has spent the last three decades translating consumer data into well-integrated, actionable insights that unlock profitable sales and business growth. In this session, she'll share the latest trends from her nationally recognized research, The Journey Back Joy identifying ways to unlock demand and make the Guest experience “worth it.”
Lisa Miller
President & Consumer Insights Strategist, Lisa Miller & Associates

9:45 - 10:15 a.m.

Box Talks: Voice of the Customer

We will share a deep dive of the latest guest sentiment insights, covering the discrepancies between customer expectations and restaurant execution, and what makes top performing restaurants truly best-in-class, backed by Black Box Intelligence data.
Victor Fernandez
VP of Insights & Knowledge, Black Box Intelligence
Emily Bennett
Director of Professional Services, Black Box Intelligence

10:15 - 10:45 a.m.

Networking Break

10:45 - 11:30 a.m.

Panel: Navigating the Hybrid Experience: Insights from Marketing Leaders

Discover what it takes to elevate your customer experience from good to great in today's digital age. Join us for a captivating panel discussion featuring marketing leaders who excel at navigating the hybrid landscape. Gain invaluable insights into crafting seamless omni-channel experiences, aligning messaging, and optimizing customer touch points to drive business growth and satisfaction. Don't miss this opportunity to refine your marketing strategy and stay ahead in the dynamic world of digital marketing.
Moderator: Ron Ruggless
Senior Editor, Nation's Restaurant News
Brooke Perry
VP of Marketing, Velvet Taco
Marty Wadsworth
VP of Marketing, Willie's Restaurants

11:30 - 12:00 p.m.

Unlocking the True Performance of Hospitality: GuestXM’s Roadmap to Enabling Best-in-Class Experiences

We’ve always represented the intersection of people, planet and profit. Find out how we’re evolving to help customers drive transformational change with experience-driven restaurant performance.
Victor Fernandez
VP of Insights & Knowledge, Black Box Intelligence
Ben Holschuh
Sr. Product Manager, Black Box Intelligence 
Emily Bennett
Director of Professional Services, Black Box Intelligence

12:00 - 12:45 p.m.


Grab a warm cup of chicken tortilla soup, any of our southwest classics, or head straight to the churro station to fuel your afternoon of learning, discussion, and delight!

12:45 - 1:30 p.m.

Unlocking the Power of GuestXM: Strategies Across Organizational Roles

Join us for a dynamic discussion as our panelists share insights into how they integrate GuestXM into their respective roles to drive improvements in company performance. From leveraging financial indexing to optimizing human resources best practices and understanding guest sentiment, our panelists will delve into the three pillars of GuestXM and their impact on decision-making.

Don't miss this opportunity to learn from industry experts as they share real-world examples of how GuestXM drives organizational excellence across departments. 

Moderator: Fred LeFranc
CEO and Founder, Results Thru Strategy 

Kendall Ware

Chief Operating Officer, Walk On's 

Fasika Melaku
Chief Learning Officer, Denny's

Brad Jacobus
Chief Marketing Officer, Jim 'N Nicks Community BBQ

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

"Unreasonable Hospitality" with Keynote Will Guidara

Restaurateur, Eleven Madison Park, The #1 Restaurant in the World, Entrepreneur, Bestselling Author of "Unreasonable Hospitality".
Will Guidara
Author of "Unreasonable Hospitality"

2:30 - 2:45 p.m.

Sponsor Roundtable: Rapid Fire Learnings from goHappy, Instant Financial, and Opus

Rapid-fire discussion with the leaders in people tech
Instant Financial

2:45 - 3:15 p.m.

Cheesecake Break!

Join us for a slice from the one and only - The Cheesecake Factory.

3:15 - 3:45 p.m.

The Evolution of Digital Payments - From Guest to Employee

It’s estimated that upward of 80% of all consumer transactions in 2023 were made using digital, non-cash methods. This shift in consumer habits will have profound impacts on the restaurant space, as operators update their own internal systems to adapt to these changing preferences. Join our panel of industry experts as they discuss the evolution of digital payments, and what impacts this is having on the entire restaurant experience continuum from guest payments all the way down to how employees are paid.
Kevin O'Bold
VP of Finance, Ultra Steak
Mark Heilig
Chief Legal Officer, Lazy Dog
Laura McLand
VP of Human Resources, Sun Holdings
Presented by:
Instant (1)

3:15 - 3:45 p.m.

Connecting Frontline Engagement to Bottom Line Results

Explore the power of strong frontline engagement and its impact on business performance in the form of reduced turnover, improved guest satisfaction and stronger sales. Discover practical insights to collecting and acting on frontline employee feedback to foster genuine engagement and transform your business.
Moderator: Shawn Boyer
Founder & CEO, goHappy
Jeremy Edmonds
Vice President of People and Culture, Snooze A.M. Eatery
Presented by:

3:15 - 3:45 p.m.

Franchise Forward: Winning Franchisee Buy-In for Operational Excellence

In today's fast-paced restaurant industry, maintaining brand consistency while meeting customer needs requires swift action. That's why securing franchisee buy-in is more critical than ever. Join leaders from Paris Baguette and Flame Broiler as they unveil strategies to foster collaboration and alignment, ensuring a consistent brand experience across franchise operations. Discover actionable tactics to drive operational excellence and sustainably grow your franchise network.
Moderator: Raechel Nemeth
CEO and Co-Founder, Opus Training
Michelle Jagroop
Chief People Officer, Paris Baguette
Sherry Broesamle
VP of People, The Flame Broiler
Presented by:
Opus_logo_green (1)

4:00 - 4:45 p.m.

Ask the Experts: Crowd-Sourced Questions for Industry Leaders on the Frontlines of Restaurant Investments

Moderator: Michael Halen
Senior Restaurant Analyst, Bloomberg
Lauren Fernandez
CEO & Founder, Full Course
Tom Wells
Investor, 10 Point Capital
Andrew K. Smith
Managing Partner and Founder, The Savory Fund

4:45 - 5:30 p.m.

Fireside Chat with Legacy Award Winner, G.J. Hart, President & CEO of Red Robin

Annually, Black Box Intelligence honors an industry leader who demonstrates exceptional leadership by balancing people practices and best-in-class operational results throughout their career. This year's winner of the 2024 Workplace Legacy Award, G.J. Hart, President and CEO of Red Robin, will take the spotlight to discuss his remarkable career and the principles that have defined his success. 

6:30 - 9:00 p.m.

Awards Ceremony

Celebrating everyone in this industry and their accomplishments, and honoring the brands that worked diligently to keep operations running smoothly, employee and guest expectations high, and profits soaring.
Mary Hamill
Chief Customer Officer, Black Box Intelligence
Paul De Luca
Manager of Implementation Services, Black Box Intelligence

Day Three

Wednesday, February 28th

8:00 - 9:00 a.m.


Start the day off right. Enjoy grab & go and sit down options, to suit any mood.

9:00 - 9:05 a.m.

Welcome Best Practices Attendees!

A recap of the awards recognitions.

9:05 - 9:25 a.m.

2024 Industry Address

Emily Knight
CEO, Texas Restaurant Association

9:25 - 10:15 a.m.

Panel: C-Suite from Experiential Brands Reveal the Lessons that Led to Growth

Discover the diverse challenges and innovative solutions across various restaurant formats, from fast casual to fine dining, in this dynamic panel discussion. While similarities such as people recruitment and development, financial performance, guest interactions, and competition exist, each format demands a unique approach due to its distinct operating model.
Join us as CEOs from leading restaurant brands share their perspectives on navigating the complexities of their respective formats. Whether you're involved in fast casual, fine dining, or any other restaurant format, this discussion promises to provide actionable strategies with a clear pathway for success.
Moderator: Fred LeFranc
CEO and Founder, Results Thru Strategy 
Clay Dover
CEO, Velvet Taco
Joe Hummel
Chief Executive Officer, Twin Peaks
Scott Lawton
Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, bartaco

10:15 - 11:00 a.m.

Black Box Presents | Connecting Experience to Outcome

Victor Fernandez
VP of Insights & Knowledge, Black Box Intelligence
Philip May
Sr. Insights Analyst, Black Box Intelligence

11:00 - 11:05 a.m.

Closing Remarks

David Cantu
Chief Executive Officer, Black Box Intelligence