Led by a young and vibrant leadership team, Famous Dave’s has made major strides in 2018, including a new exciting menu, technological advances, and a roadmap for growth.
As trade areas shift and labor costs continue to rise, the brand is developing a smaller, 4,000 square foot efficient footprint. The full-service refresh made its debut at the Coon Rapids, Minnesota corporate store, and has already proven to be a huge success.
“This year is all about meeting customers where they want to be and helping our franchisees raise their unit-level economics,” said Famous Dave’s CEO Jeff Crivello. “Famous food delivered to the customer in the most efficient and convenient way is our goal.”
Crivello adds that social media has enabled the brand to receive unfiltered customer feedback, and as a result, be very efficient in correcting issues quickly. The team is also utilizing technology to supercharge its catering program. Crivello hopes that the success of these initiatives at corporate locations will encourage franchisees to do the same.
“How do you convince franchisees to spend money on marketing and make an investment in their restaurant? The only way you can do it is to prove it to them by doing it yourself,” said Crivello. “So that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. We’ve been cleaning up and refreshing the corporate stores, focusing on marketing and going back to basics in terms of operations.”
The key to most of these innovations is a unified POS system. Famous Dave’s is testing a cloud-based solution in its Minnetonka location, and has one franchisee group on board, with plans to expand it to more corporate stores.
“Over the years, the system became somewhat fragmented, because our franchisees use nine different POS systems. This equates to a herculean effort required by our IT department anytime a change is required,” said Crivello. “Our POS system is the foundation to moving forward. We need granular data in order to effectively analyze and identify trends across the system and in geographies, and provide guidance to our franchisees.”
Another way the brand will utilize data is through its mobile app, which launched at the end of 2018. The app gives customers a free sandwich for the first use, and gives franchisees the data-driven insight of customer frequency to build better marketing programs. In the first week of the launch, the app had been downloaded more than 3,000 times.
Off premise, representing over 40 percent of Famous Dave’s sales is another key focus for 2019. More than 60 percent of the system has implemented third-party delivery, and the brand’s goal is for 90 percent of franchisees to implement the program. The program has been so successful that Crivello anticipates a “virtual Famous Dave’s” which will utilize a shared kitchen space to launch in 2019, and only be open for to-go, delivery, and catering.
Crivello’s strategy of testing initiatives at corporate stores to get franchisees on board has shown some early signs of success with longtime franchisee and Chairman of the Franchise Advisory Board Bill Ferguson noting, “These initiatives should have an immediate positive impact on sales and guest count at Famous Dave’s, enabling us to reach out and communicate more efficiently with our existing guests and help us build guest count by being able to target new customers.”