For the past 10 years, Coca Cola has proudly partnered with Buffalo Wings & Rings. And according to Bill Souders, the director of area sales for Coca Cola, the reason for that is simple—it’s the brand’s dedication to providing every single one of its guests with a club-level experience.
“Buffalo Wings & Rings is a brand that we’re proud to be a part of. They truly embody their commitment to providing a club-level experience. It’s an image that’s portrayed by their suppliers, their corporate team, their staff and their franchisees,” Souders said. “We’re pleased to have the opportunity to work with a company like that.”
When Souders first met with Nader Masadeh, Buffalo Wings & Rings’ CEO, he was impressed by his genuine honesty and unquestionable drive. Souders knew immediately that this was a company he wanted to do business with.
“Buffalo Wings & Rings has incredible growth ambitions. We also found that we share a lot of the same principles—like honesty and transparency,” Souders said. “We wanted to build a relationship that lasts a lifetime. Yes, it involves selling Coca Cola products, but doing anything we could do to make Buffalo Wings & Rings more successful became our priority—we were committed to finding a way.”
Today, Souders is proud to say that he’s watched as Buffalo Wings & Rings has evolved into the 70-plus unit—and growing—franchise that it is today. And one of the ways that Coca Cola and Buffalo Wings & Rings have made the most out of their partnership is by finding ways to better market to the brand’s two key audiences—the sports fan that comes for the beer and the families that come for the soft drinks.
“The beauty of what Buffalo Wings & Rings is that they have to difference audiences—both of which are very important to the overall business. It’s our job to provide strategic information and build value in terms of programs to make the most out of the demographic that prefers to order a Coke product over a beer,” Souders said.
Coca Cola is also working with Buffalo Wings & Rings to gain insight on another important demographic—millennials. Based on the restaurant industry data that Coca Cola has collected and analyzed from CREST® (the leading information service for the food industry), Souders has been able to have educational conversations with the Buffalo Wings & Rings team to discuss upcoming trends on the horizon and how the brand can adapt. The to-go part of business and catering, for example, has become increasingly important to younger generations, so the two companies are working together to figure out how to make the data—and their ideas—actionable. Other trends, such as millennials’ desire for unique food pairings and bold flavors, has also become an area of interest for Buffalo Wings & Rings, and they’re working with Coca Cola to infuse even more innovation in their menu.
“At the end of the day, we’re striving for a collaborative relationship, and we approach everything we do with Buffalo Wings & Rings with great enthusiasm,” Souders said. “This is a brand with one of the best return on investments in the industry. Through our partnership, we want to help make Buffalo Wings & Rings the first choice for both guests and franchisees. The way I see it, I don’t know why anyone would every look anywhere else.”
Philip Schram, the chief development officer for Buffalo Wings & Rings, agrees—having a partnership with Coca Cola enhances the brand’s bottom line, which is good news for franchisees.
“Buffalo Wings & Rings’ franchisees are ultimately the recipients of this partnership. Working closely with Coca Cola has allowed us to showcase better products and better service that’s in line with our guests’ expectations,” Schram said. "That kind of mutually beneficial partnership can really go a long way."