Restaurant CEOs on Leading Their Brands Now and Beyond Coronavirus

On April 29, Revenue Management Solutions and EZ CERT supported Franchise Times’ lively webinar discussion with Peter Cancro, Founder and CEO of Jersey Mike’s Subs, Joe Koss, President and CEO of Culver’s Restaurant, and Chris Newcomb, Co-Founder and CEO of Newk’s Eatery.

Source: Finance Monitor

The CEOs, whose brands collectively have more than 2,500 locations across the U.S., discussed their challenges, solutions and plans for the future in these unprecedented times. Franchise Times Founder and President John Hamburger led the discussion.

For those who didn’t catch the webinar, and as a reminder for those who did, here are our team’s top takeaways.  

  • CEOs are now chief communicators and cheerleaders. Now more than ever, CEOs need to focus on building company culture by offering praise, maintaining strong connections with franchisees and operators and serving up a healthy dose of optimism for the future.
  • Brands remain committed to the success of their whole system. Jersey Mike’s agreed to half royalty payments for franchisees, talk to landlords for rent relief and banks to postpone loan payments. Culver’s put already in early February a taskforce team together to deal with the new normal and communicated as often as twice a day with franchisees to keep everyone updated and supported at all times. Newk’s franchisees are sharing tools to help each other through the Paycheck Protection Plan process and implementation.
  • Menus and delivery methods have changed — a lot. Brands with already strong drive-thru or off-premise offerings were most prepared. Newk’s Eatery, which previously had 60% in-store dining, worked quickly to change menus and develop offerings like grab-and-go and a pantry store that could serve customers in the new environment. He also outlined they had plans for interim, limited menus for reopening. Both Jersey Mikes and Culvers on the other hand are both still operating on full menus.

What do we do next? These winning CEOs had some advice.

  • Culver’s CEO believes the industry’s recovery post-COVID will be more like a dimmer switch and with a slow return.
  • Digital tools and off-premise sales are here to stay. Investments made in those areas during this time will benefit the brands for the long-term. Cancro is cautious about expanding his brand’s drive-thru capabilities, while Koss sees a need to accelerate technology and mobile ordering. Newcomb believes the curbside delivery Newk’s implemented during the crisis is here to stay.
  • Support development. All three brands expressed optimism that development will continue, perhaps at a slower or delayed pace for some.
  • Get creative. Flexibility is the new marketing plan, according to all the CEOs. Existing 2020 marketing plans have been tossed out the window, replaced by short-term, flexible plans that highlight company culture, special charitable initiatives and offerings that match the changing environment.

Listen to Restaurant Finance Monitor’s full webcast.

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