When American Blue Ribbon Holdings simplified operations with a corporate restructure, they knew that setting a digital transformation agenda would be at the front of their list of challenges to tackle. With issues managing a landscape of legacy PBXs and outdated systems, finding a new telecom solution was top of mind. So, they turned to a trusted partner, Cisco, for help.

The Need for Reduced Communications Spend With Webex Collaboration

There’s nothing better than going out to enjoy a meal with friends and family. It’s not about taking a night off from cooking—but enjoying one-on-one time with those you care about. Since 1959, the employees of Village Inn, Bakers Square, O’Charley’s, and Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub, and Legendary Baking, the five casual restaurant groups owned by American Blue Ribbon Holdings (ABRH) out of Nashville, have been a huge part in turning meals into lifelong memories. ABRH has always encouraged its retail brands to put quality (and flavor) first. But as a result of six decades of tremendous growth, the $1.3 billion revenue generating organization struggled to place the same emphasis on maintaining the quality of their communications infrastructure. As a result of tremendous growth ABRH needed to rethink its communications infrastructure.

See how Cisco gave a peace of mind to American Blue Ribbon Holdings: Watch the video:

Tackling The Cost Reduction Problem

Today, ABRH supports the communications needs of their headquarters and administration offices while also catering to 2,500 users in over 500 company and franchise restaurants across 43 states. With a large legacy of accumulated Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) lines, key systems, disparate on-premises PBXs and multiple vendors for collaboration applications, the telco spend for managing the entire ABRH infrastructure was astronomical, often requiring expensive truck-rolls and legacy experts to help maintain out of service systems. Reducing total cost of ownership was a major driving force to ABRH’s digital transformation initiative, which also included tackling:

  • Issues with solution usability
  • Need for advanced calling features & business continuity
  • Desire for a full stack of collaboration capabilities
  • Vendor consolidation
  • Unified administration tools across all users and locations
ABRH and tackling the cost reduction problem
Reducing total cost of ownership was a major driving force to ABRH’s digital transformation initiative

Using Webex to Identify Best Fit

With a renewed emphasis on streamlining operations and using innovative technologies to improve efficiency, Michael Tarpley, ABRH Senior Network and Telecom Engineer began to look for a new cloud calling solution that would yield cost savings and provide much needed ease of use.

“Today’s customers require on-demand service. This desire has required ABRH to find new methods to connect our people, processes, and data in ways that we couldn’t do before,” says Tarpley.

“Webex Calling lowers costs, improves efficiency, protects sensitive organizational and customer data, and enhances operational control. We have greater peace of mind, because we know that our collaboration technology helps ensure the most secure, amazing experiences for diners at our retail chains.”

Requirements for a Future-Proofed Solution

A rigorous pre-sales process was needed to determine the capabilities required for a calling solution that would solve ABRH’s problems. Specifically, ABRH needed a platform that could provide the following:

  •  A single solution for collaboration
  • A proven platform for reliability, efficiency, and support.
  •  Cost reduction and simplification of administration.

ABRH looked at several different vendors but found Cisco Webex Calling leading the pack.

“With Webex Calling, we are able to simplify our collaboration footprint,” says Tarpley.

“We have replaced our internal/on-premise ShoreTel VoIP system for low volume audio conferences, LoopUp for larger, hosted bridges, and Skype for Business for instant messaging between users and conference calls. Webex gives us one calling and collaboration solution that has a more robust feature set than our disparate point solutions combined,” Tarpley added. “Previously, The Village Inn and Bakers Square brands had to use a third-party automated attendant called VirtualPBX during their busy season for call volume. This has also been eliminated with Webex because of its ability to hold calls in a queue.”

low-volume audio conferences
Previously, The Village Inn and Bakers Square brands had to use a third-party automated attendant called VirtualPBX during their busy season for call volume. This has also been eliminated with Webex because of its ability to hold calls in a queue.

Benefits of an Integrated Collaboration Suite

For ABRH it was a ‘no-brainer’ to go with Cisco Webex Calling. No other provider could satisfy the daily needs of both retail employees and knowledge workers across all geographies and sites while also offering end-to-end security and reliability from premises to cloud, and across applications and devices. Leveraging Cisco’s cognitively enabled collaboration ecosystem allows ABRH to:

  • Virtually eliminate ramp up/shut down times when opening and closing restaurants
  • Scale capacity up and down as seasonality, growth, and other needs affect call volumes
  • Deliver high-definition audio and video, easy call management, wireless screen sharing, and flawless user experiences with Cisco’s industry-leading intelligent proximity enabled endpoints (Webex Room Kits, headsets, and multi-platform phones)

The Results

  1. After the initial roll-out, ABRH will have an anticipated $1.7 million savings across the corporation for telecom systems in the first year, realized by consolidating and restructuring their voice network and getting rid of POTS lines, disparate video endpoints, and meeting technologies, and the costs related to supporting those systems.
  2. Aggressive pricing across the collaboration portfolio also helped ABRH with their cost reduction mission upfront, and additional operational savings are expected thanks to significant reduction in management expenses and ongoing savings from the application consolidation (simple flexible choices for reusing PSTN contracts).

Bridging the Gap Between Retail Locations and Headquarters

For a retail organization like ABRH, the focus is to maintain profitability and service every call quickly. Many food service organizations are heavily reliant on customer calls, and the need for a hybrid strategy is imperative as a ‘rip-and-replace’ of an old PBX system at a headquarters or admin office simply isn’t feasible.

A partner that specializes in cloud migration is of the utmost importance for organizations with complex internal structures and a mix of different technologies.
Cisco's trusted cloud-calling platform and migration expertise
Cisco’s trusted cloud-calling and migration expertise helps protect enterprises with a mix of retail locations like ABRH from disruptions, natural or otherwise, so they can stay connected and effortlessly serve customers.

A Partner You Can Trust

Other industry specific benefits include:
  • Increased collaboration between headquarters and front of house through secure messaging and sharing
  • Intelligent call routing and the ability to help multiple customers at once simultaneously
  • Mobility for front and back of house staff with extensions that can be answered from any location via any headset, mobile, or desktop endpoint
  • Enhanced productivity between admin offices and franchise owners with strategically placed huddle spaces


Deep Dive: Cloud Calling

When ABRH needed a comprehensive calling, messaging, and meetings solution that integrated seamlessly with enterprise devices and headsets they found everything they required with Cisco Webex Calling. They leveraged the hands-on experience and best practices brought to the table by Presidio, to make it a successful deployment.

Javed Khan, VP/GM of Cloud Calling, Cisco Collaboration has this to say: “We are thrilled to power ABRH on Webex Calling via our trusted partner, Presidio. Together we are committed to delivering the value of the full-suite Webex platform for an integrated experience across calling, meetings, and cognitive team collaboration with a single management console.”

Webex Calling enables seamless experiences at any scale. From the boardroom to the huddle room, from mobile to desktop, cloud calling from Cisco delivers best-in-class experiences every single time.

For more information on how Webex Calling can work for you,  Contact a Cisco Representative


Sonali Karnik

Senior Manager, Product Marketing

Cisco Cloud Calling