Buffalo Wings & Rings is using strategic growth in existing markets to stay on top of the competition.
For anyone outside the business, the idea of growing too fast might seem crazy. But according to Buffalo Wings & Rings Chief Development Officer Philip Schram, the brand’s measured rate of growth is at a near-perfect pace to allow the company to emerge as a top player in the franchise restaurant space.
“We have opened about seven locations per year in 2015, ’16 and ‘17, which comes out to around 15% growth,” said Schram. “This is really the perfect number for us; faster growth would put too much pressure on the organization.”
Part of what makes the Cincinnati-based sports restaurant’s growth trajectory so strong is the number of new openings that are coming from existing franchisees. In fact, Schram says that currently two-thirds of the brand’s growth comes from organic franchisee expansion.
“Growth of existing franchisees means those on the inside are finding success in our system, know the opportunity, and are taking advantage of it,” said Schram. “This also ties into our plan of strategic growth in existing markets. Brand awareness is very important for us, and if you are surrounded by other locations, that is a huge plus.”
Schram also maintains that it is crucial for an emerging brand like Buffalo Wings & Rings to make sure that brand positioning remains strong during periods of growth.
“From a brand standpoint, our positioning is very good, exactly where we need to be for current consumer expectations,” said Schram. “Right now, customers are looking for improved experience and quality of food, and we are a shining star in casual dining because our food is so much better.”
Craig Tincher, who opened a Buffalo Wings & Rings location in London, Kentucky in March, took note of the strong brand positioning when he first began researching the franchise. After his location set opening-day and opening-week sales records for the brand, Tincher is convinced that Buffalo Wings & Rings is an emerging powerhouse in its segment.
“We had tried the main competitor and didn’t like the food,” recalled Tincher. “There was a remarkable jump in quality when we tried Buffalo Wings & Rings. That is what’s going to propel us to the top of our category.
Tincher is already thinking about opening another location or two in Kentucky, a sign that Buffalo Wings & Rings is continuing to see the organic franchisee growth that their brand growth model champions.