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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6 0 • 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 • J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 7 How To some limited financing to its franchi- sees. It will pay between $1,500 and $2,000 for interior graphics for those who complete the remodel by the end of 2018. And it will finance up to $5,000 of the exterior cost, interest free, for up to 18 months. "We're trying to create some carrots to give incentive but also be compassionate to small- business people," Martin says. The biggest challenge Martin is facing is if a store has recently remod- eled since this new facelift would come hot on the heels of it. "It's a delicate situation, and we can adapt a little," he says. This includes being more flexible with financing or timing. Offering choices to franchisees is key to getting them on board to remodel for Johnny Rockets. Like most other franchise chains, this one has obliga- tory remodels written into its contracts, but from time to time, it asks franchi- sees to undergo others. Such is the case right now since the Lake Forest, Calif.-based chain is rebranding to what it calls Diner 2.0. It has four legs: a new logo and new design/decor package, a high-efficiency kitchen designed to increase qual- ity and consistency and reduce ticket time, an upgrade of all consumer touch points from salt cellars to glassware, and an effective marketing relaunch. Ideally, franchisees will embrace all of these components, says James Walker, president of operations and de- velopment, but the first one is the most vital to maintain brand consistency and prevent restaurants from looking tired. Johnny Rockets tends to initiate the upgrades with its most high-profile locations and those that are likely to see the biggest ROI from a remodel so it can share those numbers with other franchi- sees. It also approaches those who are obligated contractually to remodel at that time since it's easy to get them on board. It's also critical, says Walker, "to send out ticklers or reminders in ad- vance. We do it mostly through emails, but we follow up through one-on-one calls and site visits. We don't want this to be a sudden surprise for them." And it's important to offer choices, Walker says, "so providing them with options — either the A, B or C package — is more warmly received than saying, 'You need to spend X dollars.' We always try to have at least three packages." Johnny Rockets has 394 restau- rants globally, about half of which are in the United States. By the end of this summer, close to two dozen will have been remodeled, and 62 opened last year as brand-new restaurants with the new decor and branding. "We're a little more than a year into this, and we're starting to pick up steam," Walker says. "More of our fran- chise partners are coming to us, even if they don't have a required remodel, but they ask, 'Is this advantageous to my business, and what does this mean for my business?'" Johnny Rockets likes to test remodels in corporate locations before it approaches franchisees with the big ask. "That way, we have data on costs as well as performance," Walker says. "At the end of the day, they want us to show them what they need to spend and what they will get for it." It's also vital "to show you believe in the program and are willing to invest your own money into the corporate stores," he adds. Like with Lennys, as franchisees undergo the remodels, the corporate office puts them in touch with each other so those who have renovated can answer questions of those who are still deliberating. "You can't communicate too much with your franchise partners, and we share everything, whether it's good news or not such good news," Walker says. Compassion for your franchisees is vital, Walker says. "From my stand- point, in an effective remodel program, the franchisees move forward with it not because they have to but because they want to. It's about looking at things through their eyes." + Johnny Rockets is rolling out its extensive Diner 2.0 remodeling and rebranding initiative. Photo courtesy of Johnny Rockets

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