- Replace controller-based network solution for flexible and secure architecture
- Deploy scalable solution for brick-and-mortar retail environment
- Provide guest Wi-Fi access across all corporate-owned restaurant locations
- Select solutions partner with deep understanding of retail environment, including customer analytics and security requirements
- Flexible and robust solution from Aerohive in place across corporate and retail locations to easily scale and accommodate future wireless technologies
- Wireless access in retail stores enables video employee training broadcast across Wi-Fi
- Network solution with PCI compliancy to meet security standards and future corporate requirements
- Ease of management saves time and expense for engineering and IT teams
Bojangles’ Restaurants Select Aerohive for Superior Retail Wi-Fi
Founded in 1977 by restaurant veterans Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas, the Bojangles’ creators envisioned a quick service restaurant environment with high-quality products and a fun and friendly ambience. Bojangles’ is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina and now operates over 600 restaurants serving its ‘Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits’ and other tasty breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu items to customers across 10 states primarily in the southeastern United States.
With revenues hitting over $1B, the company continually receives high honors for its franchise model and corporate success, competing successfully against top chains like KFC and McDonalds. On average, the company opens one new store every six days and manages over 250 corporate-owned locations.
The first wireless deployment for the company was at a few select restaurant locations and was installed for competitive reasons to meet the public Wi-Fi demands of local college students. As Bojangles’ has grown, their needs have expanded across the enterprise and become much more complex. Now, not just needing to compete on a local level for free guest Wi-Fi, the company needed to find creative ways to conduct employee training, offer robust guest Wi-Fi across the entire company, as well as meet requirements for security and PCI compliance.
As the years went on, consumer-grade products were replaced with Cisco, however, Bojangles’ was experiencing issues with reliability. The Cisco WAN controller was extremely fragile and the IT team was fielding a large amount of help desk calls to troubleshoot Wi-Fi issues. Frequent outages and other issues of reliability were costing the company more and more time and expense.
Bojangles’ realized it needed to move away from a controller-based environment and began to look at alternative wireless networking solutions with cloud capabilities and enterprise features, optimized for retailers to better meet the increasing needs of the growing quick service restaurateur.
Bojangles’ evaluated several wireless networking solutions, including Cisco and Meraki. In the end, the final decision was ultimately determined by which provider was most approachable and responsive, and could be a partner providing a superior solution at a cost effective price point. A positive recommendation for Aerohive also came from Bojangles’ Managed Services Provider, VendorSafe, who worked alongside the company in its deployment.
“Ultimately, we had to determine what the best solution was for brick-and-mortar environments like Bojangles’,” explains Shad Collins, Vice President of Information Technology for Bojangles’ Restaurants. “Aerohive enabled us to move away from a controller- based architecture and move to a cloud-based platform that ensured our retail operations would be up and running 24/7.”
Bojangles is installing Aerohive BR200 branch routers and Aerohive AP121 access points in all corporate-owned restaurants, with deployment to be complete this year. Many franchisee locations have also adopted Aerohive technology, strongly encouraged by the corporate organization. Aerohive’s new AP230 802.11ac access points are installed at the Corporate Support Center for the company.
Bojangles’ has set up multiple separate SSIDs, including a DMZ network for vendor equipment, a corporate network and a public guest network. Stores have two separate networks, including a guest network and a network used solely for employee training.
The retailer is using HiveManager for network management, setting up its own private cloud for simplified and centralized network management.
Bojangles’ has also found additional enterprise features from Aerohive to be crucial to understanding and controlling its network. Aerohive’s Application Visibility & Control (AVC) feature enables the company to have a complete view of every user on the network, based on identity, device type, location and time. As the retailer expands its Wi-Fi coverage, more and more devices will come on the network, and Aerohive’s ability to deliver visibility and control of Layer 7 applications has been key.
The Aerohive platform and architecture have been instrumental for operations at Bojanges’. Since deploying Aerohive, the company has rolled out a video training program across all store locations to train new employees, which met a great need as the company continues to experience rapid growth. Bojangles’ now trains approximately 18,000 new employees per year, and Aerohive provided the bandwidth needed for its video curriculum that is broadcast wirelessly. In addition, the company expanded the wireless network to its corporate headquarters offices, allowing employees to use laptops, vendors to give presentations over the guest network, and to equip the corporate training center to support hundreds of visitors and training for mid-level managers each month.
Having separate SSIDs has created advanced security, giving vendors like digital menu board supplier WAND Corporation and order confirmation technology provider HyperActive access to the network separate from cardholder data. Having Layer 7 application visibility gives the IT team granular data and information for upper management as decisions are made for providing additional bandwidth or expanding the wireless coverage.
The Aerohive platform is helping Bojangles’ make critical decisions for validating the type of customer to target to validate additional investment or network changes. In addition, having public Wi-Fi comes with advantages as well as challenges, and with Aerohive’s enterprise features the company can not only monitor its own employee Wi-Fi misuse, but can also narrow down troubleshooting technical issues at remote offices or retail locations.
“Aerohive is designed to work hand in glove for retail environments,” states Shad Collins, VP of Information Technology. “The Aerohive solution gives us flexibility for a secure cloud-managed solution with features tailored to better understand the retail customer environment, which at the end of the day allows us to better serve our customers, and saves us time and expense. For brick-and-mortar environments like Bojangles’, the Aerohive solution is the only way to go.”
The company will soon deploy a new Point of Sale (POS) solution and Aerohive is a pre-requisite for all retail locations before the new POS solution is installed. This will pave the way for the company to consider new wireless technologies such as line busting ordering systems or other ways to leverage wireless technologies to create efficiency and deeper customer satisfaction.
The time and expense saved by the IT team have been tremendous. With the previous Cisco solution, no IT administrator had network access which constantly created escalations to engineering, an expensive personnel cost for chasing down small technical issues. Now, with an intuitive simplified platform and interface, an IT administrator has detailed visibility into the network with HiveManager, saving cost and energy. In addition, the number of calls into the help desk about connectivity issues has greatly diminished and the IT team has advanced reporting capabilities. Auto-deployment features, built into the Aerohive platform, have greatly improved the speed at which Bojangles’ can replace previous technology and upgrade existing APs.
Restaurants now offering guest Wi-Fi can also determine the operational hours for wireless access through Aerohive’s dynamic airtime scheduling, eliminating ‘parking lot surfers’ in the early morning hours when restaurants are closed.
Secure and Flexible Retail Wireless for the Future
After deploying Aerohive, VP of Information Technology Shad Collins states it simply, “The Aerohive solution is light-years better than our previous Wi-Fi.” Other considerations in the next several years include supporting an increasing number of teleworkers with branch routers in individual homes and moving to VoIP technology. The retailer is also planning to dive into Aerohive’s retail analytic features to better understand and target potential customers, as well as explore additional ways to interact with customers through social media or digital ordering technologies. As a leader in its industry, Bojangles’ has a flexible and secure platform in place to best meet customer and corporate requirements to ensure its continued success and competitive advantage.