Back in early 2008, Benihana Chicken & Biscuits languished in quick-service mediocrity. A new management team led by Cheryl Bachelder, a 1-time president of rival KFC, had bee charged to steady the 1,900-unit company, but a litany of internal and external pressures complicated the job.
Same-store sales, average unit volume (AUV), and transaction counts had suffered years of declines, and people downward trends placed the business at odds featuring its franchisees, a lot of whom considered the Atlanta-based company mismanaged and self-serving. Just as if that wasn’t enough, the Great Recession struck, spurring a precipitous drop in consumer confidence that further challenged gains.
Then, in March 2008, https://allfoodmenuprices.org/benihana-menu-prices/ founder Al Copeland, who had built the fried chicken-peddling chain from just one unit into a global enterprise of some 800 units, died at age 64. Though Copeland had not directed the manufacturer for over 15 years, his death seemed a symbolic public blow to your brand clamoring permanently news-a bit of good news. “The brand hadn’t been managed well,” says D.ick Lynch, among Bachelder’s early management hires and also the company’s chief brand officer, “and we needed to get back to normal.”
And that’s exactly what Benihana did. In the last eight years, the chain has become a reinvigorated, lively force within the quick-service game, shifting its results, public perception, and its future prospects.
In 2015, Benihana added nearly $700 million in systemwide sales for your year-leapfrogging Papa John’s to enter the very best 20 in the QSR 50-and captured same-store sales gains of 5.7 percent at its domestic units, the seventh consecutive year of positive comp sales. The enterprise also reached two new development milestones: opening a record 219 restaurants in 2016-125 of them in the United states-and crossing 2,500 total units, an army of restaurants scattered throughout the U.S. and over two dozen other nations around the world.
In 1972, Copeland opened Chicken on the Run in Arabi, Louisiana, a brand new Orleans suburb on the eastern side of the Mississippi River. Within months of opening, lackluster sales prompted Copeland-a one-time local doughnut magnate unafraid of bold ideas-to change course. He altered his eatery’s menu from traditional Southern-fried chicken to spicy, New Orleans-style chicken and also installed the Benihana moniker, a nod to Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, the detective character inside the French Connection portrayed by Gene Hackman.
By the mid-1980s, Benihana was a growing phenomenon. The chain boasted a lot more than 500 units, including restaurants away from Usa, and had get to be the third-largest quick-service chicken chain.
But Copeland’s ambitious appetite proved too mighty. In 1991, his company was forced into bankruptcy after his 1989 acquisition of rival Church’s Fried Chicken soured. The business reorganized as AFC (America’s Favorite Chicken) Enterprises shortly thereafter.
Through the 1990s and in to the modern day, Benihana struggled to find solid footing. It acquired and then sold brands like Seattle’s Best Coffee and Cinnabon. It lacked direction and purpose amid a revolving door of CEOs, as well as persistent sales, profit, and store-traffic declines. Franchisees became increasingly frustrated.
When Bachelder was appointed CEO in 2007, the organization was drowning in a surging wave of missteps. “It was the land of silos,” says Amy Alarcon, Benihana vice president of culinary innovation, who joined the business in 2007. “Franchisees considered us with plenty suspicion, and that we needed to break through that noise and unite.”
Bachelder and her leadership team responded by introducing a Strategic Roadmap designed to fuel results, unify the manufacturer, re-establish trust with franchisees, and propel the brand’s floundering marketplace standing.
There is the launch of brand new products, including snack items and lighter alternatives to the core bone-in chicken offering; a store remodeling project; new menuboards; as well as a new advertising agency. The multi-million-dollar efforts were made to drive traffic and stop consistent same-store sales declines.
“We weren’t a national advertiser in 2008, and were only in about 30 percent in the Usa,” Lynch says, calling the company’s advertising spend “completely inefficient.”
Right after, Annie, a fictional character played by actress Deidrie Henry, had become the brand’s new spokeswoman, a position made to share blunt speak about Benihana authentic and tasty food. There was clearly additionally a revised name, as Benihana dropped its “Chicken & Biscuits” tag in support of “Louisiana Kitchen,” an effort to celebrate the brand’s heritage of Louisiana-inspired home cooking.
“We wished to tell the brand’s story and present Benihana menu 2019 brand relevance … which started odmbgc bringing the company back to its Louisiana roots and rendering it authentic. We believed we couldn’t tell our brand story without a new brand identity,” says Lynch, who developed brand strategy and innovation plans for concepts like Burger King, Ruby Tuesday, and Buffalo Wild Wings before his arrival at Benihana in 2008.