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 once, but slow building over a five-year period that really 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 scoped its competitive set, brands like Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, and asked “How can we compete with these people?” And this as 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 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 this is 2010, not 2019. Applebee’s strayed from the value-seeker perch and shifted in unfamiliar directions, like the wood-fired grills that launched in 2016. Inflated menus were commonplace, along with LTOs that infused complexity into operations and muddied the ROI of deep discounts. It was, in a lot of ways, a period when casual chains drifted off their core principles attempting to appeal to an alternative generation of consumers we didn’t quite understand yet. The “all-things-to-all-people” aftershock of attempting never 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 market in 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, it becomes an area where we can compete.’ It just happened to get they were leaving as a result and we were diving into it.”
Elliott admits those chains have come back to value, with Chili’s 3 for $10, Applebee’s all-you-can eat deals, Dollarita, as well as other offers. Yet there remains a positive change, he says. “They do it on the promotional basis,” Elliott says. “It exists inside our restaurants every day of each week so we support that all year round with additional promotions allow it some top spin. But our value is perhaps all day, every day.”
“I think the distinction is should you value you can’t get it done intermittently,” he adds. “It must be a part of your DNA.”
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s daily value has become key to the resurgence. Notably, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has taken very little price recently, unlike many chains trying to maximize 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 want a good deal. And that’s not a brand promise Elliott is ready to compromise on.
Here’s an example of how serious what time does beef o bradys close is on the subject: Franchisees can’t set their very own prices thanks to an alternative POS system corporate installed.
But the daily deals are definitely the foundation. They work, Elliott says, simply because they don’t change in purpose. Taco Tuesdays, for example, have operate a $5.99 price tag for five straight years. Burger Mondays (the same price) hasn’t change, either, and isn’t anytime soon. 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 near future.
“The franchises are after me,” Elliott jokes. “They think we need to take price on this stuff. And I’m saying, consider the results, guys. Look at the repeat visits that we’re getting on nowadays of each week. Whenever we eyoaqm sit tight, we continue to separate ourselves from those who continue to take price.”
“If you do that,” he adds, “all of sudden your daily deal is no longer an agreement. It’s just like everything else. We’ve had our infernal debates about this but we’ve been consistent to separate ourselves from your competitors, and also 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.