Checkers CEO Rick Silva discusses technology and loyalty’s place in Checkers’ future.
Rick Silva isn’t just a man with a plan—he has the roadmap to a whole new frontier in the franchising industry. After hopping on board with Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc., as President and CEO in February 2007, Silva has transformed the drive-thru restaurant chain into a franchising force to be reckoned with.
Throughout his time at Checkers, Silva has managed to satisfy every facet of the franchise value chain—from customer to franchisor. Holding customer experience in the highest regard while driving up profits has made Silva’s reign over Checkers a resounding success.
“Our business strategy is to be first choice for our franchisees, our employees and our guests—that enables exciting and successful business growth,” Silva said. “We want to be the first place our guests think about when they're looking for great tasting fast food at an incredible value.”
Silva continued his company-wide revamping by recruiting industry leaders to the Checkers management team, spearheading a branding strategy overhaul and implementing new and improved operating and performance management systems. Silva’s restructuring and expansion led to major growth for Checkers and an appointment to the company’s Board of Directors in 2009.
“We have achieved more than 4 years of consecutive same store sales growth, consistently ahead of the HQSR category average,” Silva said. “We have been able to achieve all of this by significantly improving our restaurant-level operational performance, developing successful menu innovations that have made us even more relevant for our guests, and adding successful new restaurants every year.”
Checkers’ growth has only just begun; with almost 85% of Checkers franchisees rearing to expand, Silva has no shortage of believers in his vision. Silva credits this incredibly high interest to Checkers’ attentive franchisee support, ongoing brand success and compelling financial returns.
“One of the things that differentiates us is our strong alignment with our franchisees and our focus on their profitability,” Silva said.
Using company restaurants to test product, promotions, and operational innovations, Silva’s main goal objective for Checkers is to not only be the first, but also to be the best. This model has not only succeeded—it has been lauded. Most recently, Checkers was named the #1 fast food restaurant and #1 multi-unit restaurant concept in franchise satisfaction by Franchise Business Review magazine.
While Silva is focused on continuing Checkers’ success with his tried-and-true system, he is aware—and willing—to alter the model as the franchising industry progresses. For example, as many restaurant chains shift their focus to breakfast, Checkers dominates late-night dining with menus items like wings and loaded fries.
“The greatest challenge for our industry is staying relevant to the ever-evolving tastes and preferences of our guests, but for Checkers & Rally's, this challenge is an opportunity,” Silva said. “Our commitment to constant menu innovation, bold flavor and great value has helped us stay relevant with our core fast food user, and has helped us to adapt to the changing expectations of millennials.”
Checkers is looking to tap into exciting new mobile technologies and loyalty programs in the coming years. By combining cutting-edge technology with a desire to deliver excellent customer service, Checkers hopes to not only stay at the top of the franchise game, but change it altogether.