Restaurant Development & Design

July-August 2017

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 7 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 5 9 Updating the stores was obligatory, so Riva handled her franchisees with care. Since the Rivas are themselves franchisees of three stores, they remod- eled those first, and they showed data and photographs from the remodeled stores to operators who were reluctant to remodel to highlight the positive ROI they'd likely see. The Rivas also shared with franchisees the positive feedback they were receiving from guests. "It can make a big impact when franchisees see what another store's in- vestment was and how much their sales have increased," Riva explains. Riva put together a guideline that features details of every aspect of the remodels, including which products are approved, manufacturers the corporate office has negotiated with and where franchisees can purchase items. Riva purchased many interior and decor items in bulk to pass the bulk savings onto franchisees. For those on very tight budgets, she also offers various tips and options, such as inex- pensive ways to replace their counters and work they can do without hiring outside help. At the end of the day, Riva says, it's all about a personal touch and a staggered plan. "Forcing anyone to do anything is not going to work well," she says. "You have to be willing to listen to their concerns and their budget. You also have to tell them why you're asking them to make the changes and what it's going to mean for them." Beyond the Contract Johnson Ventures CEO Kevin Martin takes a similar approach when talking to franchisees about spending money. When the company purchased Lenny's Subs in 2013, it decided to give the brand an overhaul and expand the concept from fast-food lunch to a fast casual with a greater emphasis on dinner. This also brought about a name change for the Memphis, Tenn., company to Lennys Grill & Subs, which is in the roll-out phase and should be complete by the end of 2018. "To go in with a heavy hammer — that's not what we do. We want franchisees to follow this with gusto, and there are key reasons why this is crucial to our brand," Martin says. He shares these reasons with franchisees "to reinforce the importance of why we are asking them to remodel, which definitely helps them have buy-in." Contracts for Lennys' franchisees state when stores must undergo remod- els, but the challenge for Martin was that the new remodel is beyond what's in the contract. The big change to stores is the replacement of a deli case with what he's calling a "take, make and serve" line, where customers order and pay. Other nonnegotiable parts of the remodel are a change of interior paint colors, interior graphics and exterior signage. To introduce the new look and feel of the brand, Martin announced the changes at the company's annual franchisee summit last year. The con- vention was held in Memphis, where the company had already reimaged a franchised store. "So, we hosted an event there, and everyone got to experience it firsthand, which was key in getting this into the minds of the franchisees," he explains. Martin puts franchisees in touch with each other, so a store consider- ing a remodel can chat with someone who's already done it. And to make the remodels easier on their wallets, he's offering to break the project up into two chunks, split over two years, with the nonnegotiable items being done first and cosmetic items — like tiling behind the counter, ceilings and bathroom overhauls — coming later. Lennys' corporate office also offers The rollout of Lennys Grill & Subs' new look should be complete by the end of 2018. Photo courtesy of Lennys Grill & Subs

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