Potbelly looks to mobile for growth

Sandwich chain Potbelly (NASDAQ:PBPB) is tinkering with its business model to boost sales, notably by implementing new mobile programs.

Chicago-based Potbelly may be growing sales, thanks to new locations, but comparable store sales have been on the decline. Sales at stores open at least a year have declined 1.9 percent for the first half of the year.

To spur growth at existing stores, management is looking to test and ultimately implement new mobile strategies to better connect the business to its local community.

"I think our number one problem is, how do we find a way to message outside the four walls," said Aylwin Lewis, chairman and CEO. "We will explore digital, social and mobile tactics to solve this problem."

Management is also focused on menu innovations, research, service improvement and staffing. But messaging is considered Potbelly's final way to reach customers outside its four walls. "We believe in building this business," Lewis said.

Potbelly lags its direct competitors in implementing mobile strategies. Quick-serve chains including Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) are testing mobile ordering and payments. Domino's (NYSE:DPZ) has a new voice-ordering app, and even Quiznos (NASDAQ:QUIZ), which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, is experimenting with mobile promotions, using gamification to build loyalty with its recent "Feed Us, Quiznos" promotion.

For more:
-See this Crain's Chicago Business story 
-See this Potbelly earnings call transcript

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