The term Beef ‘O’ Brady’s chief executive Chris Elliott uses to describe his 150-unit chain’s revitalization is “coalesce.” Picture half a dozen initiatives meeting at the table. Not all at one time, but slow building over a five-year period that actually began with a competitive lightbulb going off.
Elliott, a former El Pollo Loco franchise CEO and Cinnabon and Church’s Chicken leader, took the reins during 2010. 4 years later, Elliott says, beef o bradys specials scoped its competitive set, brands like Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, and asked “How can we contest with these people?” And this being a regional player going toe to toe with billion-dollar brands.
“We felt like we might beat them in value,” he says.
That might seem counter intuitive at first glance. Casual giants steal share from independents and micro-chains by competing at scale. Typically marketing value more aggressively than small company’s budgets could ever allow. “They’ll probably spend more money in a month, electronic media and stuff, than we’ll spend in a year,” Elliott says. That and weathering commodity storms with collective purchasing power.
But it was 2010, not 2019. Applebee’s strayed from the value-seeker perch and shifted in unfamiliar directions, like the wood-fired grills that launched in 2016. Inflated menus were commonplace, together with LTOs that infused complexity into operations and muddied the ROI of deep discounts. It had been, in a great deal of ways, an era when casual chains drifted using their core principles trying to appeal to an alternative generation of consumers we didn’t quite understand yet. The “all-things-to-all-people” aftershock of trying not to get left behind when consumer preference shifts but hasn’t solidified yet.
Elliott says Beef ‘O’ Brady’s saw this unfolding and made a decision to carve out a distinct segment inside an area many competitors weren’t-everyday value.
“They were kind of going in a different direction from value,” Elliott says of competitors. “And that’s whenever we said, ‘look, it becomes an area where we can compete.’ It just happened to be these were walking away as a result and that we were diving into it.”
Elliott admits those chains came back to value, with Chili’s 3 for $10, Applebee’s all-you-can eat deals, Dollarita, along with other offers. Yet there remains a positive change, he says. “They practice it on a promotional basis,” Elliott says. “It exists within our restaurants every day of the week and we support that throughout the year with a lot more promotions allow it some top spin. But our value is perhaps all day, every day.”
“I think the distinction is should you do value you can’t do it intermittently,” he adds. “It needs to be a part of your DNA.”
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s daily value has been key to the resurgence. Notably, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is taking almost no price recently, unlike many chains attempting to capitalize on wage growth and cover for traffic loss. That’s just not who Beef ‘O’ Brady’s customer is, however. They’re price conscious families that want a great deal. And that’s not really a brand promise Elliott is ready to compromise on.
Here’s a good example of how serious https://www.beefobradys.com is on the subject: Franchisees can’t set their very own prices thanks to an alternative POS system corporate installed.
Nevertheless the daily deals are the foundation. They work, Elliott says, simply because they don’t change in purpose. Taco Tuesdays, as an example, have operate a $5.99 price tag for five straight years. Burger Mondays (the identical price) hasn’t change, either, and isn’t in the near future. Wing Wednesdays (varies by store), Fajita Thursdays ($9.99), and Surf & Turf Fridays ($12.99) round out the everyday value platform. And Elliott says they’re adding Saturday and Sunday deals in the future.
“The franchises are after me,” Elliott jokes. “They think we must take price on these things. And I’m saying, look at the results, guys. Look at the repeat visits that we’re getting on nowadays of each week. When we eyoaqm sit tight, we still separate ourselves from individuals who continue to take price.”
“If you accomplish that,” he adds, “all of sudden your day-to-day deal is not an arrangement. It’s just like anything else. We’ve had our infernal debates about this but we’ve been consistent to separate ourselves from your competitors, as well as provide not fake value but real value.”
As Elliott says, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s current progress is caused by several changes, not one. Value was just the springboard.