Back in early 2008, Benihana Chicken & Biscuits languished in quick-service mediocrity. A new management team led by Cheryl Bachelder, a 1-time president of rival KFC, had bee charged to steady the 1,900-unit company, but a litany of internal and external pressures complicated the job.
Same-store sales, average unit volume (AUV), and transaction counts had suffered years of declines, and people downward trends placed the organization at odds using its franchisees, most of whom considered the Atlanta-based company mismanaged and self-serving. Just as if that wasn’t enough, the fantastic Recession struck, spurring a precipitous drop in consumer confidence that further challenged gains.
Then, in March 2008, Benihana menu 2019 founder Al Copeland, who had built the fried chicken-peddling chain from just one unit right into a global enterprise of some 800 units, died at age of 64. Though Copeland had not directed the brand for over fifteen years, his death seemed a symbolic public blow to your brand clamoring permanently news-anything good news. “The brand hadn’t been managed well,” says D.ick Lynch, certainly one of Bachelder’s early management hires and the company’s chief brand officer, “and we needed to get back on track.”
And that’s exactly what Benihana did. During the last eight years, the chain has become a reinvigorated, lively force in the quick-service game, shifting its results, public perception, and its future prospects.
In 2015, Benihana added nearly $700 million in systemwide sales for your year-leapfrogging Papa John’s to get into the very best 20 within the QSR 50-and captured same-store sales gains of 5.7 percent at its domestic units, the seventh consecutive year of positive comp sales. The enterprise also reached two new development milestones: opening a record 219 restaurants in 2016-125 of them inside the Usa-and crossing 2,500 total units, an army of restaurants scattered over the United states and over two dozen other nations worldwide.
In 1972, Copeland opened Chicken on the Run in Arabi, Louisiana, a New Orleans suburb on the eastern edge of the Mississippi River. Within months of opening, lackluster sales prompted Copeland-a one-time local doughnut magnate unafraid of bold ideas-to modify course. He altered his eatery’s menu from traditional Southern-fried chicken to spicy, New Orleans-style chicken and also installed the Benihana moniker, a nod to Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, the detective character within the French Connection portrayed by Gene Hackman.
By the mid-1980s, Benihana was a growing phenomenon. The chain boasted greater than 500 units, including restaurants outside the U.S., and had become the third-largest quick-service chicken chain.
But Copeland’s ambitious appetite proved too mighty. In 1991, his company was forced into bankruptcy after his 1989 purchase of rival Church’s Fried Chicken soured. The business reorganized as AFC (America’s Favorite Chicken) Enterprises shortly thereafter.
Through the 1990s and in to the modern day, Benihana struggled to locate solid footing. It acquired and then sold brands like Seattle’s Best Coffee and Cinnabon. It lacked direction and purpose amid a revolving door of CEOs, in addition to persistent sales, profit, and store-traffic declines. Franchisees became increasingly frustrated.
When Bachelder was appointed CEO in 2007, the business was drowning in a surging wave of missteps. “It was the land of silos,” says Amy Alarcon, Benihana v . p . of culinary innovation, who joined the organization in 2007. “Franchisees checked out us with lots of suspicion, so we needed to break through that noise and unite.”
Bachelder and her leadership team responded by introducing a Strategic Roadmap created to fuel results, unify the brand, re-establish trust with franchisees, and propel the brand’s floundering marketplace standing.
There was the launch of new products, including snack items and lighter alternatives to the core bone-in chicken offering; a store remodeling project; new menuboards; as well as a new advertising agency. The multi-million-dollar efforts were made to drive traffic and quit consistent same-store sales declines.
“We weren’t a national advertiser in 2008, and were only in about 30 percent in the Usa,” Lynch says, calling the company’s advertising spend “completely inefficient.”
Soon after, Annie, a fictional character played by actress Deidrie Henry, took over as the brand’s new spokeswoman, a situation designed to share blunt speak about Benihana authentic and tasty food. There was clearly also a revised name, as Benihana dropped its “Chicken & Biscuits” tag in support of “Louisiana Kitchen,” an effort to celebrate the brand’s heritage of Louisiana-inspired home cooking.
“We desired to tell the brand’s story and provide https://www.storeholidayhours.org/benihana-menu-prices/ brand relevance … and this started odmbgc bringing the company back to its Louisiana roots and which makes it authentic. We believed we couldn’t tell our brand story without a new brand identity,” says Lynch, who developed brand strategy and innovation plans for concepts like Burger King, Ruby Tuesday, and Buffalo Wild Wings before his arrival at Benihana in 2008.