The term 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 during 2010. Four years later, Elliott says, beef o bradys menu with prices 2020 scoped its competitive set, brands like Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, and asked “How can we contest with these guys?” And this as a regional player going toe to toe with billion-dollar brands.
“We felt like we might beat them in value,” he says.
That might seem counter intuitive initially. 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 it was 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, in addition to LTOs that infused complexity into operations and muddied the ROI of deep discounts. It absolutely was, in a great deal of ways, a period when casual chains drifted from their core principles attempting to appeal to a new generation of consumers we didn’t quite understand yet. The “all-things-to-all-people” aftershock of trying 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 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 whenever we said, ‘look, it becomes an area where we can compete.’ It just happened to get these people were walking away as a result and that we were diving with it.”
Elliott admits those chains came back to value, with Chili’s 3 for $10, Applebee’s all-you-can eat deals, Dollarita, along with other offers. Yet there remains a difference, he says. “They practice it on a promotional basis,” Elliott says. “It exists within our restaurants every day of each week and we support that throughout the year with additional promotions to give it some top spin. But our value is perhaps all day, every day.”
“I think the difference is should you do value you can’t do it 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 is taking almost no price in recent years, unlike many chains seeking to capitalize on 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 great deal. And that’s not a brand promise Elliott is prepared to compromise on.
Here’s a good example of how serious beef o bradys hours is on the subject: Franchisees can’t set their own prices thanks to a new POS system corporate installed.
But the daily deals are definitely the foundation. They work, Elliott says, because they don’t change in purpose. Taco Tuesdays, for example, have manage a $5.99 price for five straight years. Burger Mondays (the identical 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) round out 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 should take price on these things. And I’m saying, look at the results, guys. Look at the repeat visits that we’re getting on these days of each week. If we eyoaqm sit tight, we still separate ourselves from individuals who continue to take price.”
“If you accomplish that,” he adds, “all of sudden your daily deal is no longer an arrangement. It’s just like everything. We’ve had our infernal debates concerning this but we’ve been consistent to separate ourselves from our competitors, and to provide not fake value but real value.”
As Elliott says, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s current progress is caused by several changes, not one. Value was just the springboard.