Q&A with Buffalo Wings & Rings' Philip Schram
Q&A with Buffalo Wings & Rings' Philip Schram

Discover how the sports-themed brand has positioned itself as a restaurant juggernaut.

Buffalo Wings & Rings prides itself on providing a family-friendly alternative to traditional sports-themed restaurants. Backed by a strong franchise model and dedicated franchisees, the brand is a proven competitor in its category, having experienced year-over-year growth for eight straight years.

As the brand gears up for expansion in 2016 and beyond, Philip Schram, chief development officer, shares how Buffalo Wings & Rings plans to distance itself from its competitors.
1851 Franchise: Buffalo Wings & Rings has experienced consistent growth backed by the strength of multi-unit owners. Why is that significant for the brand?
PS: “They show patience and discipline to grow their own multi-units. Brands of our size, 50 to 100 locations, are built on the strength of those multi-unit owners and I think they’re important to the brand because they understand the business. There’s a lot of trust on both sides of the relationship. We have so many great people already in our system who are great to work with and we are happy to see have continued success.”
1851: What has been the leading factor behind your ability to attract qualified and high-quality franchisees?
PS: “We spend a lot of time screening them early on in the process. It’s really a lot of fun and it’s a pleasure getting to know them as they get to learn about us. I take them around and introduce them to other franchisees. Before anything else, it’s our ethical way of doing business. Having that transparency is vital to doing business together and it’s important that everybody can count on trusting us. Franchisees are investing in our system, so they want to make sure they are in a sound system that will allow them to grow—they want to make sure there’s that transparency, ethics and a great reputation before going into business with someone, and we provide that. And the return on investment is appealing to new franchisees, while allowing multi-unit owners to open more units because the system is proven to be profitable.”
1851: Buffalo Wings & Rings prides itself on having a unique sports atmosphere that provides an alternative environment for families. How does it differ from other sports-themed dining concepts?
PS: “Most of our competition has all the sports—and that’s great, but the food is subpar. That’s the most important part. Today, people want better food. They aren’t going to a restaurant to eat generic-tasting food—they want gourmet, and that’s what makes us unique. We were founded in 1984 backed by the premise that we were dedicated to both food and customer service. For us, it’s a culture. We have a world-class atmosphere for sports fans, but we have the advantage of serving better food options. This positions us for a strong future that will make it difficult for others to close the gap.”
1851: How has the brand positioned itself for continued success moving through the coming years?
Philip Schram: “It’s a people business. We need to make sure we have the right people on board. We spend time training people as we continue to grow. We leave no employee behind because that’s where our strength lies. During the recession, like most companies, we came across a tough time. But we did not lay anyone off. Instead of laying people off, we invested in our future by putting people in positions to help the brand going forward. Then, when the economy picked up, we were in a great situation because we had quality food, design, marketing and overall product to position us ahead of our competitors. We have quality employees and they will be the strength behind our future.”
1851: Where do you see the brand in 2016 and beyond?
PS: “It’s fairly simple—it’s important that we take care of each and every guest that comes through our doors. It’s about customer service and providing an outstanding sports experience. We want to become the challenger in our category; we need to clearly detach ourselves from other brands to take over the second spot. From there, we will continue to grow and compete with the leader in our category by staying disciplined and by making smart business decisions.”