Twenty years ago, wings were a throwaway dish, which is why they were profitable for restaurants. However, as the price of the commodity has grown, restaurants have had to adjust their business models to ensure return on investment. Buffalo Wings & Rings decided to focus on higher volume and a better customer experience to keep ROI high and stand out in a popular category.
For seven consecutive years, Buffalo Wings & Rings experienced 13 percent average unit growth year-over-year. Meanwhile, the brand has enjoyed 16 consecutive quarters of positive same store sales growth. And finally, 2014 marked the company’s highest system-wide sales yet. Through it all, the Buffalo Wings & Rings business model has helped franchisees maximize the benefits of this growth.
According to Buffalo Wings & Rings co-owner Philip Schram, a franchisee would have to purchase multiple units of smaller footprint franchise brands – sometimes as many as five – to enjoy the same level of volume as one Buffalo Wings & Rings.
“In general, casual dining provides a higher return than smaller units like sandwich shops or similar places,” he said. “Also, casual dining establishments are typically three or four times the size of a burger restaurant.”
But what separates Buffalo Wings & Rings from competitors in the wing segment? For one, Schram pointed out the brand takes negotiation on behalf of franchisees seriously.
“We negotiate very hard on the part of the franchisee – food, equipment, whatever we can do to help them,” he said.
However, the brand does not ask for any compensation for these services – franchisees pay the vendor directly.
This is part of Buffalo Wings & Rings’ overarching philosophy toward running lean. The brand is committed to only spending money when and where it benefits the customer.
“There is no waste,” Schram said. “Money is reinvested into the business.”
Of course, the brand’s popularity with diners doesn’t hurt, either. Buffalo Wings & Rings has worked hard to cultivate an image that will not only appeal to wing-lovers and sports fanatics, but entire families who may not feel comfortable with the average sports bar ambiance found at competitors’ restaurants.
It’s clear that franchisees on the hunt for a business concept with high ROI potential should be paying attention to what Buffalo Wings & Rings has to offer. For a prospective franchisee, the chance to bring in the same amount of money as up to five smaller footprint chain locations with a single Buffalo Wings & Rings seems like a no-brainer, but Schram is the first to spotlight how the brand seeks out franchisees who are a cut above the rest.
“Our franchisees are sophisticated and well-rounded,” he said. “They have experience and expect higher returns.”