Fazoli’s CEO Carl Howard Discusses The State of The Industry
According to a recent article by QSR Web, “change is coming” to the fast casual restaurant industry. The only question is — is Fazoli’s ready? …You can count on it! But don’t take it from us, take it from our fearless leader himself.
Fazoli’s President and CEO Carl Howard joined four other fast casual industry leaders last month for a panel discussion at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) show in Chicago, Illinois. With nearly 70 current executives and future franchisees in attendance, the five industry leaders discussed the state of the fast casual industry at current, in a session appropriately titled, “Lessons from Leaders.”
The goal? To allow Carl and his fellow panel members to openly speak about their feelings on the industry as of late and offer their solutions for any issues they see coming down the pipeline for franchise owners. Here’s a quick recap of what our leader had to say about the industry and how he’s ensuring that Fazoli’s stays ahead of the curve:
Q: What would you identify as the primary problems and challenges you’ve been tackling over the last year?
“The consumer is changing so fast… Changing the way food is ordered, the way they behave. We’ve had to do everything all over, with a whole new point of sales system. Just a whole lot of technical changes in the last few months… So, I’d say if you’re not figuring out ways to adapt your brand and ways to bring product to consumers then you are falling behind.”
Carl explained how mobile technology has really been a true game-changer with regards to the way consumers interact with the Fazoli’s dining experience. The challenge for us has been to incorporate technology into that dining experience as seamlessly as possible, offering opportunities for guests of all ages to engage with Fazoli’s digitally from their laptops and mobile devices. We’ve even gone as far as to offer online ordering in select markets!
Q: What about with your marketing?
“The days of the $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 national ad spend? All that is gone. We’ve reallocated all those to social media.”
The future of consumer marketing is surely digital (Are you starting to see a trend here?), and Carl has made certain that Fazoli’s is aboard that train. Under the leadership and guidance of Fazoli’s Chief Marketing Officer Donna Josephson, we’ve reevaluated our marketing plan to include all things digital, especially by way of social media. Has it paid off, you ask? We feel our 16 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth and counting speak for themselves!
Q: What are your brand differentiators now?
“When I started here nine years ago, we were the world’s ‘Fastest Italian Brand.’ Now though, we’re so focused on quality ingredients — as seen in our next menu that rolls out June 19.”
We’ve done a lot to ensure that our menu keeps up with the competition! Most recently, we’ve announced a 100% clean food menu with the removal of all artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives and colors. On top of that, we have managed to maintain affordable offerings in a friendly, family-focused environment, while offering even more flavor and customizable menu options!
Q: How are you managing the balancing act of higher-level ingredients and justifying that significant investment?
Carl explained that while we’re spending $1.5 million to upgrade our menu offerings, this was something that our franchisees were 100-percent on board with from the get-go. In fact, Carl told panel moderators that he got a standing ovation from our franchisees at a recent brand conference when he announced that we’d be investing in clean ingredients.
Q: What advice would you give to others seeking to grow their brands today?
“Focus on product and service — and get one or two right before you worry about the other 50!”
Thinking of joining Carl and rest of the Fazoli’s family to secure an even brighter future for the brand? If so, contact Sam Nelson at 1-800-446-4368 to learn about our current expasion opportunities, or fill out our information request form online. And, don’t forget to read through the full article on QSR Web!
- Our franchisees are enjoying record sales with over two years of same store sales growth!
- Flexible footprint with inline, freestanding, and conversion options.
- Highly regarded by customers and the foodservice industry.
- Recently expanded Real Estate support.