Al and Mary Hauk find secret sauce of franchising success with Buffalo Wings & Rings
Al and Mary Hauk find secret sauce of franchising success with Buffalo Wings & Rings

Buffalo Wings & Rings franchisees Al and Mary Hauk have consistently ranked as the brand's top franchisees.

Celebrating its 30th year in the $200 billion bar and grill segment of casual dining, Buffalo Wings & Rings has experienced its most successful year to date with a 10 percent increase in system wide sales in 2014.

According to Technomic, a leading market research firm, percentage growth in same store sales during Q3 of 2014 for the casual dining segment increased by only 1.9 percent, putting Buffalo Wings & Rings in a league of its own. Set for big growth in 2015, the sports restaurant has spent the last few years refining its image to appeal to women and the entire family by providing a menu beyond wings and transforming the design of its stores to entice all sports fans to eat its signature wings and burgers while watching the big game.

The franchise signed on 17 new locations in 2014, with five signings in just the last two weeks of year, and plan to ride that momentum to an even more successful 2015, aiming to exceed 20 Buffalo Wings & Rings franchise agreements in 2015.

On the heels of 16 quarters of positive same stores sales growth, Buffalo Wings & Rings is poised to take over as the No. 2 leader in this space. In doing so, the brand has plans to expand aggressively in the marketplace. Single, multi-unit and area developer opportunities are available.

Husband and wife franchisee team Al and Mary Hauck fulfilled their dream of becoming business owners when they opened the doors to their first Buffalo Wings & Rings restaurant in Minot, N.D. in 2009. The couple has consistently ranked as the brand’s top franchisees in both sales and service, and is now looking forward to opening their second location in either Bismarck or Grand Forks, N.D. by 2016.

1851 sat down with Al to find out the secret sauce to their success.

1851: How did you learn about Buffalo Wings & Rings and why did you choose an opportunity with the brand?  

We chose Buffalo Wings & Rings because it was on target with what we wanted in a restaurant. The brand caters to everyone, including guests 35 years and up that want to sit down and watch sports in good company. If we want to go out, that’s the environment we want to be in, and we have found out that more people want that too. It’s what we dreamed about.

1851: What successes have you experienced since opening?  

We have exceeded $3 million in annual sales twice since opening our doors. We have been the top store in the nation two years running, won Franchisee of the Year once, and our general manager, my son Michael Hauck, won GM of the Year in 2013. It’s humbling to be recognized by your peers, but I focus on being a profitable business, providing excellent training and keeping good employees. Most of all, we strive to create a great customer experience each and every time.

1851: Tell me about your best, all-time greatest Buffalo Wings & Rings experience?  

That’s a hard one to call. The most emotional experience was the day we opened. It was the realization that we achieved something we’ve dreamed about for years – owning our own business. We struggled that year, but it was OK because it taught us that just because we opened the doors, we still need to be actively involved in the business in order to succeed. We learned so much that year, and we were able to build on it. We would not be as successful as we are now if we didn’t struggle that first year.

1851: What's the best advice you ever got?  

It’s advice my dad taught me a long time ago: Whatever you do in life, as long as you care about the people you are working with and working for, your decisions will always be good. For me, as long as I make a decision based on offering the best guest experience possible, 90 percent of the time the decision will be right. I remind myself often that customers and employees only complain because they want to continue being your customer/employee. What you truly have to worry about is when they stop complaining.

1851: What do you say to people who want to get into the business or invest in your franchise?  

We get asked that a lot. I always tell them: Only do it if you believe in the model and concept. For people looking to join Buffalo Wings & Rings, I would tell them the people from the brand are fantastic. There aren’t many places where you get into a company and the partners are right there with you. The corporate team is incredibly supportive and they have hired good people to help through the process of opening a business.