The phrase Beef ‘O’ Brady’s chief executive Chris Elliott uses to describe his 150-unit chain’s revitalization is “coalesce.” Picture half a dozen initiatives meeting at the table. Not all at one time, but slow building over a five-year period that actually began with a competitive lightbulb going off.
Elliott, a former El Pollo Loco franchise CEO and Cinnabon and Church’s Chicken leader, took the reins in 2010. Four years later, Elliott says, beef o bradys menu scoped its competitive set, brands like Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, and asked “How can we contest with they?” Which as being a regional player going toe to toe with billion-dollar brands.
“We felt like we could beat them in value,” he says.
That might seem counter intuitive at first. Casual giants steal share from independents and micro-chains by competing at scale. Typically marketing value more aggressively than small company’s budgets could ever allow. “They’ll probably spend more money in a month, electronic media and stuff, than we’ll spend in a year,” Elliott says. That and weathering commodity storms with collective purchasing power.
But it was 2010, not 2019. Applebee’s strayed from its value-seeker perch and shifted in unfamiliar directions, like the wood-fired grills that launched in 2016. Inflated menus were commonplace, together with LTOs that infused complexity into operations and muddied the ROI of deep discounts. It had been, in a large amount of ways, an era when casual chains drifted using their core principles attempting to appeal to an alternative generation of clients we didn’t quite understand yet. The “all-things-to-all-people” aftershock of trying not to get left behind when consumer preference shifts but hasn’t solidified yet.
Elliott says Beef ‘O’ Brady’s saw this unfolding and made a decision to carve out a niche inside an area many competitors weren’t-everyday value.
“They were kind of going in a different direction from value,” Elliott says of competitors. “And that’s once we said, ‘look, this is an area where we can compete.’ It just happened to be these were leaving from it so we were diving with it.”
Elliott admits those chains have come back to value, with Chili’s 3 for $10, Applebee’s all-you-can eat deals, Dollarita, and other offers. Yet there remains a change, he says. “They practice it on a promotional basis,” Elliott says. “It exists in our restaurants every day of the week and that we support that all year round with additional promotions to give it some top spin. But our value is perhaps all day, every day.”
“I think the distinction is if you do value you can’t get it done intermittently,” he adds. “It must be element of your DNA.”
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s daily value has been key to its resurgence. Notably, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has taken almost no price in recent years, unlike many chains seeking to take advantage of wage growth and cover for traffic loss. That’s just not who Beef ‘O’ Brady’s customer is, however. They’re price conscious families that are looking a good deal. And that’s not a brand promise Elliott is prepared to compromise on.
Here’s a good example of how serious beefobradys is on the subject: Franchisees can’t set their very own prices thanks to a different POS system corporate installed.
Nevertheless the daily deals would be the foundation. They work, Elliott says, because they don’t change in purpose. Taco Tuesdays, for instance, have manage a $5.99 price tag for five straight years. Burger Mondays (exactly the same price) hasn’t change, either, and isn’t in the near future. Wing Wednesdays (varies by store), Fajita Thursdays ($9.99), and Surf & Turf Fridays ($12.99) complete the everyday value platform. And Elliott says they’re adding Saturday and Sunday deals in the future.
“The franchises are after me,” Elliott jokes. “They think we must take price on these things. And I’m saying, consider the results, guys. Consider the repeat visits that we’re getting on today of every week. Whenever we eyoaqm sit tight, we continue to separate ourselves from individuals who still take price.”
“If you do that,” he adds, “all of sudden your everyday deal is no longer an arrangement. It’s just like everything. We’ve had our infernal debates about this but we’ve been consistent to separate ourselves from your competitors, and to provide not fake value but real value.”
As Elliott says, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s current progress is the consequence of several changes, not one. Value was just the springboard.