Arby’s is building a culture of franchisee collaboration
Arby’s is in the midst of a brand reinvigoration that has increased guest counts, increased sales, and attracted more sophisticated multi-unit franchisees to the Brand. Beyond the obvious signs of success such as increasing AUVs and rising transaction counts, you’ll find something fundamental: a culture that embraces connections between stakeholders, a clear vision guiding our efforts, and a commitment to innovation and execution that drives revenue growth and profitability.
The beginning of the turnaround
At Arby’s, the first thing we did when we embarked on this journey to reignite a culture of innovation was initiate a learning tour with our franchisees. We took franchisee feedback seriously and used this feedback to form a roadmap for the future of the brand.
We also listened to our guests — as well as our target guests — using a variety of methods.
Our vision: Inspiring smiles through delicious experiences™
In order to inspire a team of tens of thousands of people — franchisees, employees, and vendors — Arby’s needed buy-in from every level. At Arby’s, our mission is to inspire smiles through delicious experiences. Living out this mission has had a major impact on our Brand.
It defined our business: We’re creating experiences, not just serving food. The new restaurant design, with its warm wood tones and dramatic pendant lighting, provides a relaxing spot for friends to enjoy a meal together. Guests are invited to ring a bell every time they’ve had a great experience. It’s fun, and it also lets employees know their work is appreciated.
It set an end goal: We want people to smile — not only guests, but every stakeholder, including franchisees and employees.
Arby’s would be “deli-inspired delicious.” That phrase has provided a filter through which we judge ideas and continue to craft a stronger brand.
Enrolling franchisees’ restaurant members in the culture
All Arby’s restaurant teams are taken off-site for a half-day Brand Champ program. We have implemented a “make it right” service culture that boosts guest satisfaction and team morale. We’ve also let employees know the crucial part they play in delivering smiles to guests.
“Empowering restaurant teams has brought big wins to Arby’s”
“I have to tell you, the output of that brief, three- to four-hour meeting is so transformational, because for many it’s their very first job,” says COO John Bowie. “Nobody has ever talked with them in that sort of way. They come out feeling like they have an awesome responsibility, and for many it’s a breakthrough. We pair up the employees in twos, and we send them out into the business community with coupons or bounce backs, or just an invitation to come visit Arby’s. They’re scared to death going out the door, and the stories that come out of those three- or four-hour field trips are endless. They come back rejuvenated, laughing, sharing stories, and it goes on for weeks and weeks. They get it. They gel as a team, they build lasting bonds, and they just grow.”
Empowering employees has brought big wins to Arby’s. For instance, a recent LTO, the King’s Hawaiian® Fish Sandwich Deluxe, came from a front-line crew member in a franchised restaurant, who submitted his recipe through our Hey Chef Neville! culinary ideas program.
We also empower our marketing department. One of our big wins, in 2014, happened because our social media manager knew he had the freedom to swing for a home run if he saw an opportunity. When music icon Pharrell attended the Grammy’s wearing a massive designer hat that resembled our logo, our team member tweeted at the star from Arby’s official Twitter account:
— Arby’s (@Arbys) January 27, 2014
The tweet was seen millions of times and drew a response from the star himself:
We did eventually get the hat, purchasing it in a charity auction that supported From One Hand to Another, a charity that helps children learn through technology and the arts. This story was viewed all over the world — building our brand.