The COVID-19 crisis brought about a mountain of unforeseen challenges to the restaurant industry, across all sectors. While closures and restrictions at the start of the pandemic were devastating in many ways, it also presented us with an opportunity to reflect and learn how we could adapt and improve our practices as we moved forward in an unpredictable time.
THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC
First and foremost, the health and safety of our team members and guests was and remains paramount. We quickly produced a COVID-19 procedure manual for all of our franchisees. We supplied each location with a safety kit, which included branded face masks. Safety measures were kept in line with recommendations from the CDC, including more vigilant sanitizing and social distancing.
You may have observed other brands implementing similar practices. More signage about precautions was noticeable throughout restaurants in every state. This was an effort by everyone to keep guests safe, while still enjoying their favorite foods.
We’re proud to report that many of our franchisees at Wayback Burgers jumped in and helped out in their communities through charitable endeavors, including food donation and delivery to frontline personnel and unemployed workers from various sectors affected by the pandemic. These folks embody the Wayback Way, and we thank them.
At the beginning of the pandemic, it was important to pivot our approach so our guests could still enjoy their favorite burgers. When dining rooms began shutting down across the country, the concept of “eating out” had to shift quickly and almost all business was conducted as takeout, delivery, and curbside pickup. Luckily for our brand, we’ve been offering online ordering for over nine years. Additionally, our Wayback mobile app was launched over two years ago, allowing an ease of service during this new, strange time.
SHIFTING OUR APPROACH
Our marketing efforts shifted from a national focus to a more localized approach for each location. Our franchisees really embraced this approach, invigorated by the opportunity to spend additional marketing dollars in their areas.
The pandemic didn’t stop us from coming up with new promotions or limited time offers. If anything, it spurred us to think of new ways to engage with our guests under these unusual circumstances. In the midst of everything, Wayback Burgers launched a family pack meal, a milkshake promotion on Memorial Day, and, of course, we still had our Free Shake Day giveaway. Additionally, we launched a Summertime Lemonade limited time offer.
As a result of some of these offers, we saw an increase in milkshake sales nationwide of around 2%. We believe that this uptick is due to the fact that, now more than ever, people just need a simple, delicious treat. And what’s more simple or delicious than a good old-fashioned milkshake?
In addition, milkshake sales in June, July, and August saw increases systemwide. They were up 9.6%, 10.3%, and 10.1%, respectively.
Our 2020 promotion items and deals bolstered not just Wayback Burgers’ engagement with our guests but helped contribute to the community at large. We have continued to develop our national partnership with Boys & Girls Club of America. A portion of every burger and sandwich sold domestically goes to BGCA. Since our partnership began on June 1, 2018, we have been pleased to donate over $400,000 to the Clubs.
We are proud, and grateful, that we have continued to open new franchise locations amidst the pandemic. Certain aspects of the process look different, to be sure, but our level of commitment to ensure our franchisees are set up for success is unwavering. Since the pandemic began, we have awarded 23 new franchises. We are thrilled to have franchise partners who are just as excited about the process now as ever.
As restaurants and other small businesses around the country are reopening, nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our Wayback Burgers family: our guests, franchisees, and team members. We will continue to follow all CDC and local health official protocols; just as other brands have committed to do as well. If more drastic measures are required at some point, we will be ready to abide by them and continue to provide every possible solution for guests, team members, and franchisees.
We don’t take for granted the fact that we maintained our business during this difficult year. We feel very fortunate to work within a company of passionate, driven, community-focused individuals who are at the top of their game when it comes to providing the best possible experience to our guests. The ability to adapt and grow is one of the things that makes Wayback Burgers so great.
While the restaurant world may look a little different right now, we are confident that the things we learned through this pandemic will continue to inform the way we approach our business—with ingenuity, dedication, and a passion to do the thing.
Learn more about how Wayback Burgers handled the COVID-19 pandemic and if there are franchise opportunities in your area.