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Flexibility in Real Estate: A Catalyst for Consistent Store Sales at Layne's Chicken Fingers

By adapting to different market conditions, strategically selecting locations and expediting the opening process, Layne's can maintain consistent sales and support rapid franchise growth.

At Layne's Chicken Fingers, the Soon to be Famous™ chicken tenders franchise, adaptability is the key to success. That is why the cult-favorite franchise has embraced a flexible approach to real estate that allows them to thrive in diverse markets. The result? Consistent store sales for franchisees and a model that supports the brand's rapid growth across the country.

“A lot of big franchise brands are only interested in the prototypical building,” said Eric Reed, chief development officer. “They don’t want to lease — they want to rip it all down and build up a new one exactly how they want it. For us, we have the flexibility to adapt, which makes the whole franchising process much smoother.” 

Diverse Real Estate Options

To start, Layne's approach to real estate is anything but conventional. “We are open to going into different types of real estate — traditional fast food, free-standing buildings, dining rooms, drive-thrus and more,” said Reed. 

This flexibility means Layne's can adapt to various market conditions and opportunities, Reed says. Whether it's remodeling an existing building or constructing a new free-standing location, the brand's adaptability is a significant advantage for franchise owners.

“In tight markets, land can be tough to come by,” Reed said. “But if you find a site that is only big enough for a 12,000-square-foot building with a drive-thru and no dine-in, we’ll do a drive-thru only. If you find an end-cap in a small shopping center with a handful of tenants, we can build a drive-thru there as well. Or maybe it's an in-line space on a college campus. If we really want to be in a market, we’ll make it work.” 

This ability to modify the store format to fit available real estate allows Layne's to establish a presence in desirable locations that might otherwise be unattainable.

Strategic Location Decisions

Of course, Reed emphasized that the decision-making process for selecting the type of real estate goes deeper than just what is available. It is strategic and data-driven. 

“The question always comes up: how do you decide what type of restaurant to open? The simple answer is that we decide by looking at our peers — if another competitor has a drive-thru in this market, we want to do the same,” Reed said. “If they don’t, we don’t have to either. We want to be on an equal footing with them.”

This competitive analysis ensures that Layne's locations are positioned to meet market demands and consumer expectations. By aligning their real estate choices with those of successful competitors, Layne's can attract a steady stream of customers.

Faster Time to Market

One of the biggest benefits of Layne's flexible real estate strategy is the faster time to market for franchise owners. “If you are purchasing an existing building, you get your permits a lot quicker than ground-up development,” Reed said. “You will see an extra six months of sales by following that model. It's typically less expensive to remodel a second-gen building as well, which helps with profits.”

This expedited timeline means that Layne's can start generating revenue sooner and reduce the financial burden on franchisees. The ability to quickly adapt and open new locations is a crucial factor in maintaining consistent sales and supporting the franchise's expansion goals.

“Our flexibility also allows franchisees to manage two deals simultaneously,” said Reed. “If you can open an in-line restaurant downtown first, for example, you can ensure a consistent flow of sales earlier as you build out a free-standing drive-thru in the suburbs at the same time.”

Comprehensive Market Approach

Overall, when it comes to real estate, Reed says Layne's doesn't just focus on individual sites — the team takes a holistic view. 

“We look at a whole market approach, rather than an individual,” Reed said. “If you come in as a franchisee and you buy a geographic area that can open 10 different restaurants, we’ll determine where the best trade areas are. Where are people eating, shopping and working? From there, we go back and find the best piece of real estate within that area. That is unique among franchise brands. We can go in and open with a bang. It’s a very calculated, top-down approach.”

This methodical approach ensures that each new location is strategically positioned for success, contributing to a consistent flow of sales across the network. By carefully selecting trade areas and optimizing real estate choices, Layne's can maximize their market presence and ensure each restaurant meets its full potential.

“Our flexible approach to real estate is really a cornerstone of our success,” said Reed. “As we continue to expand, this adaptability will help us bring our beloved chicken fingers to more fans across the country.”

For more information on becoming a Layne's franchisee and the costs involved, visit: