Innovation and adaptability are two of the most important aspects of survival and growth in business. Franchisors, with teams dedicated to these very critical aspects, have been able to provide reliability and stability for franchisees during the COVID-19 crisis. For many brands and their network of franchisees, franchisor support has been a key factor in helping owners and operators spring back from the initial blow felt by so many small business owners throughout the U.S.
As the pandemic forces operators to adopt creative solutions, savvy restaurant franchisors and their franchisees are weathering these unusual times by adapting their service models. In the case of Wayback Burgers, the brand has been particularly well suited for what guests have seen as a seamless transition — initially adapting its restaurant operations to meet new social distancing regulations, and then quickly shifting to curbside pickup.
Having already harnessed technology to expand guest ordering abilities online, the brand has made it easy for guests to place orders for curbside pickup, through the Wayback Burgers app, or allow patrons to order delivery (via delivery partners including Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash, and Postmates, etc.).
Wayback Burgers’ proactive measures have helped franchisees excel in the face of a national health crisis. The key to which has been the brand’s close observation and understanding of its guests’ needs.
Giving Extra Incentive
Even though most restaurants across the nation are presently limited to curbside pickup and delivery, QSR Magazine found that in this quarantine climate, consumers still may need a promotional deal to get them to use digital ordering online or using apps.
“Rewards, coupons, and other incentives remain critical factors to encourage digital adoption,” the QSR report states. “They always have — there’s simply an extra layer of wariness to address now with deals. And it’s a massive one.”
That “massive” layer currently, of course, is the fact that all restaurant dining, other than via drive-through windows, is by pre-order and curbside pickup. Certainly, chain restaurants across the country have raced to implement special offers.
Wayback Burgers, the fast-casual brand that has built its success on a combination of dining in and takeout, has adapted its business model for the time being by offering curbside pickup and additional deals through the Wayback Burgers app.
To encourage more ordering, the brand instituted a promotion to give $5 off on orders of $25 or more and added a Family Meal to its menu.
For now, the time frame for these offers is open-ended, much like the outlook for flattening the curve of COVID-19. Offering the deals themselves as well as getting the message to quarantined guests has required the kind of adaptability and agility that Wayback Burgers is known for.
Family Meals Create Family Values
Wayback Burgers’ leadership and its franchise advisory council also began discussing creation of the Family Meal deal, a product of the inventiveness of a thriving franchise system.
“That came about through one of our franchisees down in Georgia and South Carolina,” Conlin explains. “They came up with the package of items, which is two Classic Burgers, a six-piece order of hand-breaded chicken tenders, a full order of French fries, and a full order of onion rings.”
It’s an offering that shows Wayback Burgers’ ability to adapt to changing consumer behavior. In this case, consumers, at least temporarily, have reverted to an old-fashioned eating pattern.
“When I grew up, everybody in your family ate together at 5 or 6 o’clock,” Conlin says. “In the last 20 years, it’s become very different, as many families do not eat together. Stay-at-home orders have forced people to experience eating together again or for the first time. So, we thought it was important to put a Family Meal together.”
Though the Family Meal is not a “discount” deal per se, Conlin says the intent is simply to give guests ease of ordering, with variety.
“We pivoted to that pretty quickly and got it up on the digital platforms online and on our app, and we put it out on social media,” he says. “It has done very well, and it’s still going strong.”
Guests Crave Shakes
Interestingly, Conlin says the company has noticed an uptick in milkshake sales during the quarantine.
“After the second week, maybe into the third week, since instituting our COVID-19 service model, our milkshake sales increased by about 5 percent systemwide,” Conlin says. “People are treating themselves to something they may not be able or have the desire to make at home.”
Capitalizing on this trend, in mid-April Wayback Burgers added a special promotion to increase milkshake sales even more.
“We did a $2.99 special on any milkshake on a Friday, and by the next Friday, we’d sold about 33 percent more shakes,” Conlin says. “Of course, many people taking advantage of the special aren’t going to order just a milkshake, since they likely are making a trip to pick it up. So, the average ticket on that Friday was the third-highest average ticket for the year.
“Guests felt great because they got their treat, and franchisees were happy because it was a big sales day during this pandemic.”
Conlin says Wayback Burgers is now considering offering specials once a week for milkshakes, using that comforting treat to attract larger orders for full meals.
“Since the week ending March 23, we’ve seen a steady increase in system-wide sales,” Conlin says.
“Our franchisees have been great through all this. Their perseverance and ability to adapt along with us is really a testament to them.”
For more information on how to become part of this resilient brand, visit https://waybackstaging.wpengine.com/franchising/.