Stacked Pickle is making big moves. With nine successful locations currently open in Indianapolis, Indiana and one set to open soon in Dayton, Ohio, the family-friendly sports bar franchise owned by Super Bowl Champion Gary Brackett is currently looking to tackle the nation.
Stacked Pickle doesn’t play games when it comes to pinning down the best locations for new restaurants. That’s why the franchise recently partnered with LocateAI, a company that uses proprietary artificial intelligence technology to turn finding prime real estate into a science.
Founded in 2014 by three Stanford Computer Science graduates with professional experience in Big Data, LocateAI shakes up the way retail locations are routinely selected by helping clients like Stacked Pickle to be more analytical in their approach.
As an industry, real estate has historically been slow to adopt the groundbreaking capabilities of artificial intelligence. This is largely due to landlords and brokers who avoid divulging prices publicly to help their negotiating position and maintain their informational advantage—hence the ubiquitous real estate listing phrase “Call for details.”
Stacked Pickle’s partnership with LocateAI makes the standard procedure of nailing down a location much smarter and easier. Traditionally, franchisees rely on a commercial broker to find them the best options in the market. Instead, LocateAI improves this process by first identifying Stacked Pickle’s key customer segments and determining where they generally live, work, and shop. LocateAI does this by licensing anonymized mobile GPS data that is then evaluated with artificial intelligence along with 160,000 other variables including demographics, psychographics, employment, weather, crime, vehicle traffic and more. This hyperspecific analysis helps guide franchisees and direct brokers every step of the way.
“When you’re in retail, the three magic words ‘location, location, location’ always come to mind,” said Gary Brackett, Stacked Pickle CEO and former Indianapolis Colts football player. “For years, we’ve used traditional demographics and other location data to select our sites, but you never really know just based on those counts. With this exciting partnership with LocateAI, we can use powerful software to perfect this process, both on the corporate level and with franchisees.”
Navin Bhutani, Director of Real Estate at LocateAI, said that an added benefit of artificial intelligence is the ability to eliminate human subjectivity in order to look at property potential more fairly. He recalled his time running the real estate department for a restaurant chain in New York City.
“We’d predict the success of a location based on basic variables, like the performance of nearby restaurants, foot traffic counts and residents living in the area,” he said. “Meanwhile, the director of construction was concerned with how he would physically build in the space, while the operations team wanted to be sure they could run a successful space, while the CFO was thinking about financials. Everyone at the table had a bias that affected site selection.”
LocateAI’s technology takes this flawed guesswork out of the equation. It can build an initial predictive sales model based on hundreds of thousands of data points in just a few days, a massive reduction from a traditional linear regression, which usually takes up to 12 weeks.
“While human capability (in light of time) is likely capped at analyzing 3,000 variables, our system can process 160,000 variables down to the block group level,” said Bhutani, adding that there are 217,000 block groups—geographical units smaller than ZIP codes—in the U.S. That helps franchisees identify hyperspecific territories to target.
And the artificial intelligence just keeps getting smarter. “As we keep building these models, we start to see certain variables that matter to all retailers,” said Bhutani. “So, over a long horizon, because the system is getting better at bucketing together specific variables to try, it’s getting more accurate and even faster.”
“With this partnership, Stacked Pickle has shown a commitment to data to make better real estate decisions,” said Bhutani. “We help franchisees save time, but most importantly, we reduce or eliminate the likelihood of opening a bad location. That’s a very exciting opportunity for franchisees.”