The Future of
Webinar Key Takeaways
01 Chicken Salad Chick has big growth ambitions
Meet the Speakers
02 The brand experience resonates with franchisees
03 A new perspective on delivery
04 Today’s most pressing challenge: finding talent
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Chicken Salad Chick has big growth ambitions
Founded in 2008, Chicken Salad Chick offers unique flavors of delicious chicken salad, served by the scoop, sandwich, or bowl—or purchased in bulk. The brand has 184 units in 17 states, with plans to grow to 220 units in 2021 and to 500 units in 2025.
Initially in 2020, the company was in survival mode, but as the year went on it was able to effectively transition to thrive mode. Chicken Salad Chick ended up growing system sales in 2020 by 17%, to a new record of $175 million.
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The company’s growth strategy has two critical pillars:
Balanced growth. The company wants to strike a balance between franchise and company-owned restaurants. Currently, the ratio is about 70% franchise and 30% company owned, with 52 company-owned restaurants. Longer term the right ratio may be closer to 80/20
Concentric circle growth. Chicken Salad Chick will grow by expanding from one state to a bordering state, where there is already brand awareness and organic demand for the brand. This makes marketing and growth easier than going to a new area and starting from scratch.
Chicken Salad Chick has also concluded that the ideal restaurant is 2,800 square feet, has a drive through, has a patio, and is on an end cap location in front of a major center with a grocery store, Target, Home Goods, or any brand that attracts females. “We want to be where people are,” Scott said.
“We have 52 company restaurants, making us the largest operator of the restaurant brand. So, we are right there next to the franchisee. We know exactly what it takes to run them and what it takes to build them and what the challenges are, be they labor or food or whatever.”
- Scott Deviney, CEO, Chicken Salad Chick
Keys are balanced ownership and growing in concentric circles
How can a restaurant stand out with kiosks?
The American Dream is alive and well. For many people, that dream includes owning their own business, which the franchising model makes possible. Especially during the pandemic, many people have reflected on their life, have concluded that they want to take the opportunity to pursue the American Dream, and see the franchise model as a viable, attainable way to do it.
For those interested in franchise opportunities, in addition to Chicken Salad Chick’s solid business fundamentals, the concept resonates for two important reasons.
The culture is very family oriented. A Chicken Salad Chick restaurant is a great opportunity for a husband and wife who are interested in being in business together. As a result, currently about half of the brand’s franchise system is composed of husband-and-wife partners.
The mission is appealing. Chicken Salad Chick’s mission is to spread joy, enrich lives, and serve others. The culture focuses on taking care of guests and having them leave happier than when they came in. This mission, culture, and the company’s brand are infectious and appeal to franchisees.
The combination of pursuing the American Dream of business ownership, doing so with one’s spouse, and being part of an appealing brand and culture is part of what makes Chicken Salad Chick so successful.
Tim & Kelly Paslowski, owners of two Chicken Salad Chick locations in Savannah, Georgia
Before the pandemic, Scott Deviney was not high on delivery, especially third-party delivery. He thought it wasn’t the right way to take care of guests and he was concerned about margin degradation. He said, “Because it’s a thin-margin business anyway, we don’t want to give away a lot of profits to third-party delivery people.”
A new perspective on delivery
Delivery can increase trial, boost customer acquisition
Delivery is a way to serve loyal guests. Some guests, especially during the pandemic, want to consume Chicken Salad Chick’s product, but might not have the ability to go out. Scott concluded, “We need to be able to offer them a way to get our product by staying home.”
However, after doing more research and learning more about delivery, Scott has had a change of heart, for three reasons:
“It’s a fairly reasonable way to get new guests in your restaurant, partly because third-party delivery is bringing them there.”
Delivery provides an opportunity to generate trials. There are still many, many people who have never been to a Chicken Salad Chick restaurant. One of the best ways for these individuals to try the brand is through a third-party delivery platform. Once they try it, many will come into the restaurant and become raving fans.
It is possible to provide a great experience, even through delivery. While the delivery experience is different, it is possible to provide great tasting food, good packaging, and fast service, and to greet the delivery drivers with a smile. As a result of a great product and process, drivers can satisfy customers and get a better tip. Scott is certain, “This entire process can be Chickified . . . and make people feel great.”
Chicken Salad Chick now has a contract with Uber Eats that is integrated into the company’s POS system and is in discussions with DoorDash.
Today’s most pressing challenge: finding talent
Attracting workers back to the restaurant industry is the #1 issue that keeps Scott Deviney up at night.
Covid, in combination with the government’s unemployment benefits, is keeping many people out of the workforce. For a company such as Chicken Salad Chick that aims to grow, finding adequate labor to fully staff all restaurants is a considerable challenge. Currently, the company’s 52 company restaurants have about 12 open management positions and 500 open team member positions. Across the system’s 184 restaurants the company is looking to hire about 2,000 people. Scott summarized the situation as, “We can’t find those employees right now.”
In addressing the current staffing challenges, “Everything is on the table.” While there is no silver bullet, among the options being considered by Chicken Salad Chick are:
Being flexible in scheduling to accommodate employees
Being flexible in the number of hours worked so individuals can still collect unemployment
Being flexible about pay
Highlighting the company’s unique culture
Emphasizing benefits of working for the company, which include no fryers or grills, and no late nights, no early mornings, and no Sundays
Using all possible recruiting sites and employing other recruiting mechanisms
The issues affecting Chicken Salad Chick’s ability to find employees are also affecting companies throughout the foodservice supply chain, including manufacturing facilities and warehouses. An example is that one of the company’s chicken providers, which normally runs six lines, three shifts per day, is currently running only two lines, two shifts per day due to difficulty finding people.
There are no easy answers in dealing with these issues that are affecting the entire industry. Chicken Salad Chick is being proactive, is working with multiple suppliers, and is looking far into the future to communicate its needs to suppliers.
Keys to finding talent are creativity and flexibility
Chicken Salad Chick
Scott Deviney serves as the president and CEO of Chicken Salad Chick. Prior to joining the Chick Family, Scott honed his franchise experience owning 25 Wendy’s franchises in Atlanta. Before that, he built an impressive track record of success as a director and SVP of retail and franchise industry management at SunTrust Bank. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in economics. Top Chick: “My go-to is Buffy (aka Buffalo Barclay), but all of the spicy Chicks—Kickin’ Kay Lynn, Spicy Pimento, and our seasonal Jamaica’me Jenny—make my hit list!”
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The Future of Foodservice
Join Chicken Salad Chick CEO Scott Deviney for an interactive Q&A session on how restaurant growth strategies are evolving and what factors make for a successful store opening in 2021 and beyond. Coming off years of steady expansion, Chicken Salad Chick is looking to maintain its growth trajectory as it sets its sights on having 500 locations by 2025. Deviney shares how the brand is pursuing new markets to hit its ambitious growth targets and why the challenges of the past year have made the brand stronger than ever before.
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