How Zaxby's plans on becoming a 'household name'

Although Atlanta-based Zaxby's is widely known in the Southeast part of the country, few consumers west of the Mississippi are familiar with the chicken brand. That's where Amy Pritchett comes in; the senior director heads up the franchise development division at Zaxby's, and the brand is ready to spread its chicken wings nationwide.

Zaxby's, which launched a new franchisee website last week to introduce possible franchisees to the brand, is actively pushing the concept West, targeting specific markets in multiple states, including Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

"We are a solid regional brand," Pritchett said, "and last year we were faced with the fact that we don't really have anywhere else to go here. It's time to be more intentional with our franchising opportunities outside the area and introduce our products to audiences who haven't had the chance to try our food."

Creating brand awareness

Opening franchises on its home turf for the past 25 years hasn't been difficult, Pritchett said, because consumers were already familiar with the food.

"Now, we are having to introduce the brand from scratch; we don't have the legacy of our product in these new markets," she said.

To combat that issue, Zaxby's has launched a reallocation program for all locations opening west of the Mississippi. The brand will invest 2 percent of the royalties it earns from each franchisee into marketing that unit. In Texas, for example, a lot of those funds have gone toward television advertising.

"We've been able to get some good cable time, and it's key to be able to present our food," Prichett said. "It's a beautiful product, so that's doing a lot for us on television."

Competition: What competition?

Although Pritchett realizes there is a challenge in creating brand awareness, she's confident getting consumers to take notice one time will turn them into fans.

"Not to sound smug, but there's really no competition," she said. "There's really no product that's just like us — there's just nothing out there like us. When you want Zaxby's nothing else will do."

The company's research shows that it stacks up against all the other chicken chains, including Chick-Fil-A, which is also based in Atlanta.

"We're spicer, zestier, and you may be in the mood for a fried chicken product, but they're just so different in my mind," she said. "We do very well side by side."

Courting the "right" franchisee

The Zaxby's franchisee can't be summed up in a few character traits, said Pritchett, who said the company once hired a firm to develop the perfect franchisee profile. It didn't work.

"Of course, we have a financial requirement, but after that it's more of a soft thing," she said. " 'Do you fit? Do you believe in our brand?' We have people from all walks of life from truck drivers to attorneys to CPAs; all different educational levels but the same core values."

Each franchisee goes through, what Pritchett describes as a date.

"We don't call it an interview. We are courting each other. We want to know who you are to see if we should continue with this relationship because it's going to be a 20-year relationship," she said.

Zaxby's, which opened 30 units in 2012, is projecting another 36 by the end of this year with a goal of hitting another 150 in the next two years. Its long-term goal is to be nationwide, which Pritchett and CEO Zach McLeroy are confident about as long as the brand sticks with two important business operations: The high quality of the food and a commitment to its culture.

"It's a brand you want to be affiliated with because it's about people," Pritchett said. "We really are a family — from the people in our office to our licensee community. We know each other by first name."

That value of putting people first has contribued to the brand's success, McLeroy said.

"Zaxby's is not here to just serve food; we're here to serve the community as well. We're about more than just about selling chicken and making money," he said. "It's a brand with a heart; it's brand with a soul, it's a brand that has passion and compassion. It's just who we are."

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Although Atlanta-based Zaxby’s is widely known in the Southeast part of the country, few west of the Mississippi are familiar with the chicken brand. That’s where Amy Pritchett, senior director of Franchise Administration, comes in. She’s heads up the franchise development division at Zaxby's, and the team is ready to spread its chicken wings nationwide.

The brand, which launched a new franchises website last week to introduce possible franchisees to the brand, is actively pushing the concept west, targeting specific markets in multiple states, including Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

“We are a solid regional brand,” Pritchett said, and last year we were faced with the fact that we don’t really have anywhere else to here. It’s time to be more intentional with our franchising opportunities outside the area and introduce our products to audiences who haven’t had the chance to try out food.”

Creating brand awareness
Opening franchising on its home turf for the past 25 years hasn’t been difficult, Pritchett said, because consumers were already familiar with the food.

“Now, we are having to introduce the brand from scratch; we don’t have the legacy of our product in these new markets,” Pritchett said.

To combat that issue, Zaxby’s has launched a reallocation program for all locations opening west of the Mississippi. The brand will invest 2 percent of the royalties it earns from each franchisee into marketing that unit. In Texas, for example, those funds have gone to television advertising.

“We’ve been able to get some good cable time, and it’s key to be able to present our food,” Prichett said. “It’s a beautiful product, so that’s doing a lot for us on television.”

Competition; what competition?

Although Pritchett realizes the challenge in creating brand awareness, she’s confident once consumers try Zaxby’s once, they’ll be fans.

“Not to sound smug, but there’s really no competition,” she said. “There’s really no product that’s just like us -- there’s just nothing out there like us. When you want Zaxby’s nothing else will do.”

The company’s research shows that it stacks up against all the other chicken chains, including Chick-
Fil-A, which is also based in Atlanta.

“We’re spicer, zestier, and you may be in the mood for fried chicken product, but they’re  different in my min,” she said. We do very well side by side.”

Courting the “right” franchisee

The Zaxby’s franchisee can’t be summed up in a few character traits, said Pritchett, who said the company even hired a firm to develop the perfect franchisee profile. It didn’t work.

“Of course, we have a financial requirement, but after that it’s more of a soft thing,” she said.  ‘Do you fit? Do you believe in our brand?’ We have people from all walks of life from truck drivers to attorneys to CPAs; all different educational levels but the same core values.”

Each franchisee goes through, what Pritchett, describes as a date.

“We don’t call it an interview. We are courting each other. We want to know who you are to see if we should continue with this relationship because it’s going to be a 20-year relationship,” she said.

Zaxby’s, which opened 30 units in 2012, is projecting another 36 by the end of this year and 150 in the next two years. Its long-term goal is to be a nationwide chain. Two things have propelled that expansion, according to Pritchett: The quality of food and the brand’s culture, which is kept alive by partnering with the right franchisees.”

“It’s a brand you want to be affiliated with because its’ about people,” she said. “We really are a family from our office to our licensee community. We know each other by first name.”

 

 

 

 

Although Geghis Grill started out with only five locations in 1998, it’s grown tremendously over the last few years. It now has more than 100 and plans to reach 300 in the next few years. That growth, although exciting, has led to a few challenges, said CEO Al Bhakta, who went on a mission last year to improve customer experience. The only way to do that, he said, was to first figure out what his customers wanted. 

 

 

QUOTE

 

Bhakta set out to not only gain customer insight, but he also needed a way to make sense of the information collected and to capture demographics for future marketing purposes.

 

After researching the market place, Bhakta decided to test a solution from Improving Restaurants.

 

QUOTE

 

Improving Restaurants, said CEO Hamed Mazrouei, designed a survey system to allow GenghisGrill customers to share their feedback, but the solution also provides the restaurant brand with  real-time alerts flagging negative customer experiences, automated report cards on each location’s status, a coupon verification system and staff’s performance ranking.

 

 

“We developed a way to integrate into any POS system and print a unique QR code on each receipt for each customer,” Mazrouei said. “The customer will then be able to scan the QR code to provide feedback and get loyalty points.”

 

The codes also show Genghis how much each customer spent, what location they visited and when and server information. Genghis receives all that infor through a robust graphic usage and comprehensive action report.

 

“They can then create a powerful dashboard, allowing C-level management to effectively control their business, and to make sound decisions based on accurate and real-time information,” Mazrouei said.

 

The results

Genghis Grill has been able to increase its annual revenue by $282,798, through returning customers who completed their Customer Satisfaction Survey – an 11.8 percent coupon redemption rate. Customers, who receive a free appetizer for taking the surveys, have completed more than 97,555 surveys in the past 12 months.

 

 

"Improving Restaurants has provided a service that has truly been a game changer for Genghis Grill, they know our business inside out, and are committed to understanding how they can help us become better,” Bhakta said.

 

The Improving Restaurants social media integration has also helped Genghis Grill create 380,000 impressions on Facebook and Twitter, and has created positive chats across multiple social media sites. This equates to a saving of $750 a month in Pay-Per-Click advertising, Mazrouei said.

 

 

 

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