Igniting a Turnaround: How One Casual Dining Brand is Inspiring Positive System-Wide Changes
Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar Reflects on Strategies Guiding its Journey to Success
May 23, 2016 // Franchising.com // DALLAS - Following its widespread success in Mexico over the last 12 months and its ranking amongst America’s best casual dining brands, Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar (Boston’s), a Dallas-based concept that combines a family-friendly restaurant and sports bar under one roof, is ready to pull back the curtain and share the internal changes that are driving the brand’s positive outlook for 2016 and beyond. After refocusing the company’s core values and leveraging existing traits that have made its sister company, Boston Pizza in Canada, successful for over 50 years, Boston’s executives agreed that in order to initiate system-wide change and position the brand as a force in the casual dining industry, groundwork for major changes needed to be laid.
The first step towards achieving positive change was to evaluate existing restaurants in the system and that meant closing restaurants that were underperforming and/or didn’t meet Boston’s new real estate, target demographic, or franchisee criteria—a bold move for a company with just 40 restaurants system-wide. Troy Cooper, Chief Operating Officer notes that the brand “needed to focus on a solid set of restaurants that we believed could be the foundation for growth. From there, we recreated the support system to establish ourselves as a best-in-class franchisor.”
Taking a close look at each individual store was the first step, followed closely by a complete turnover at the corporate executive level. Renamed “The Support Center” to reaffirm their commitment to franchisee profitability, Boston’s corporate saw 100 percent replacement of the C-suite followed by the introduction of new and innovative processes to replace outdated and lackluster support systems. The new executive team has combined experience in the industry of over 100 years at big names such as Brinker International Restaurants, The Coca Cola Company, and beyond. The support system is something the company is proud of and plans to leverage their new talent and company history to attract potential investors.
After starting fresh at the local and corporate levels, Boston’s shifted its focus to the heart of the house and worked with owners to improve overall operational efficiencies. “After close examination, we realized what we needed to reinvent ourselves” said Tim Matousek, V.P. of Operations. “We claimed to offer gourmet food but there was room for improvement. We shifted towards more made-in-house items and worked to highlight our scratch-made items, positioning Boston’s as a serious culinary contender. We also needed to ensure that our commitment to franchisee profitability was a primary focus and as a result, we were able to lower food cost by 3-4 percent in many markets from a national average of 28 percent down to 24-25 percent with some restaurants running as low as 23 percent.” Boston’s also enhanced their offerings by adding new items such as thin crust pizzas, new chicken wing flavors, salads, homemade desserts, gourmet pastas, and hand-pressed burgers, all while reducing the overall number of items from nearly 100 down to 83.
Next on the list of objectives was the initiation of a brand relaunch, led by Brad Bevill, V.P. of Marketing. Results from brand research and a competitive analysis earlier last year revealed a white space for the brand to conquer and also helped identify the ideal consumer demographic Boston’s should target. “We discovered that we needed to get back to the basics,” said Bevill. “In order to be successful you need to do three things; be transparent, be real, and accept your brand’s product truth. That being said, Boston’s is all about celebrating life’s wins with family and friends while enjoying pizza, pasta, burgers, wings and sports.” With the foundation laid for a strong marketing platform, Bevill then led his team to rebuild their support structure, allowing franchisees the opportunity to focus on running their businesses, rather than having a dual role of restaurant operator and marketing, advertising and PR experts.
Other departments at Boston’s Support Center including IT and Purchasing also received a revamp with the hiring of the new Director of IT, Sherilyn Johnson. Johnson is standardizing the system and obtaining access to world-class, real time data that will allow Boston’s to make informed business decisions on a very short timeline. Bob Hall took over as the new Director of Supply Chain and has been able to reduce the overall cost of products, leaning heavily on the company’s Canadian counterparts and their supplier agreements to drive down the cost of goods for their franchisees.
Additional changes also include major renovations to the franchise development side of the business. With a newly designed prototype including sleek yet comfortable finishes, an enlarged sports bar, and a premium TV package, Boston’s is setting the bar for new casual dining standards. The company has also launched an internal campaign called the Road to 100, a company-wide goal of growing the brand to 100 restaurants in the next three years. This laser focus-approach has proven successful thus far as the company recently opened in Ashburn, VA, Abingdon, MD, Tuxtla, Mexico, Patio Santa Fe, Mexico, Casa Grande, AZ, and Monterrey, Mexico with signed deals and existing agreement renewals all in the pipeline. With all of these improvements in the works, Boston’s franchise development team looks forward to the launch of a new franchise sales campaign in 2016, which will reintroduce the investment opportunity and allow potential franchisees the ability to connect with the brand and executive team on a more personal level.
“It took a lot to admit that there were problems within our system that were inhibiting growth, but we knew the first step to improving the company was not denying our issues and instead bringing them to light so that we could all work to resolve them,” added Cooper. “After taking a close look at every aspect of our business, from cash flow to operations and marketing, we feel we are now in a much better position overall and primed and ready for growth.”
Boston’s is both a family-friendly casual dining restaurant and an energetic sports bar, all under one roof. For over 50 years, Boston’s has specialized in providing a relaxing atmosphere and fabulous food to parties of all sizes. Boston’s motto is “We’ve gotcha covered,” and with 80+ menu items, primarily made in-house, they deliver on having something for every occasion and taste. The company is currently ranked No. 71 on Entrepreneur magazine’s ‘America’s Top Global Companies’ list and No. 89 on the 2015 Franchise Times Top 200 (Plus 300) list. With sales exceeding $1 Billion in system-wide gross sales, Boston’s grows through franchising and is currently looking to expand around the US and Mexico. Interested in opening in the Midwest, Texas, Southern California or Michigan? Visit franchise.bostons.com today.
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