The word Beef ‘O’ Brady’s chief executive Chris Elliott uses to describe his 150-unit chain’s revitalization is “coalesce.” Picture half a dozen initiatives meeting at the table. Not all at one time, but slow building over a five-year period that really began with a competitive lightbulb going off.
Elliott, a former El Pollo Loco franchise CEO and Cinnabon and Church’s Chicken leader, took the reins during 2010. 4 years later, Elliott says, beef o bradys menu prices scoped its competitive set, brands like Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, and asked “How can we compete with these people?” Which being a regional player going toe to toe with billion-dollar brands.
“We felt like we could beat them in value,” he says.
That might seem counter intuitive at first glance. Casual giants steal share from independents and micro-chains by competing at scale. Typically marketing value more aggressively than small company’s budgets could ever allow. “They’ll probably spend more money in a month, electronic media and stuff, than we’ll spend in a year,” Elliott says. That and weathering commodity storms with collective purchasing power.
But it was 2010, not 2019. Applebee’s strayed from its value-seeker perch and shifted in unfamiliar directions, like the wood-fired grills that launched in 2016. Inflated menus were commonplace, together with LTOs that infused complexity into operations and muddied the ROI of deep discounts. It absolutely was, in a large amount of ways, a period when casual chains drifted from their core principles attempting to appeal to a new generation of consumers we didn’t quite understand yet. The “all-things-to-all-people” aftershock of attempting not to get left behind when consumer preference shifts but hasn’t solidified yet.
Elliott says Beef ‘O’ Brady’s saw this unfolding and made a decision to carve out a distinct segment inside an area many competitors weren’t-everyday value.
“They were kind of going in a different direction from value,” Elliott says of competitors. “And that’s once we said, ‘look, this is an area where we can compete.’ It just happened to get these were walking away from this so we were diving with it.”
Elliott admits those chains came back to value, with Chili’s 3 for $10, Applebee’s all-you-can eat deals, Dollarita, along with other offers. Yet there remains a positive change, he says. “They do it on a promotional basis,” Elliott says. “It exists within our restaurants every day of the week and we support that throughout the year with additional promotions to give it some top spin. But our value is all day, every day.”
“I think the difference is if you do value you can’t do it intermittently,” he adds. “It needs to be a part of your DNA.”
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s daily value continues to be key to its resurgence. Notably, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has brought almost no price lately, unlike many chains attempting to maximize wage growth and cover for traffic loss. That’s just not who Beef ‘O’ Brady’s customer is, however. They’re price conscious families who want a great deal. And that’s not a brand promise Elliott is willing to compromise on.
Here’s an illustration of this how serious beef o bradys hours is on the subject: Franchisees can’t set their particular prices thanks to a new POS system corporate installed.
However the daily deals would be the foundation. They work, Elliott says, simply because they don’t change in purpose. Taco Tuesdays, for instance, have manage a $5.99 price tag for five straight years. Burger Mondays (exactly the same price) hasn’t change, either, and isn’t soon. Wing Wednesdays (varies by store), Fajita Thursdays ($9.99), and Surf & Turf Fridays ($12.99) round out the everyday value platform. And Elliott says they’re adding Saturday and Sunday deals in the future.
“The franchises are after me,” Elliott jokes. “They think we should take price on these items. And I’m saying, consider the results, guys. Consider the repeat visits that we’re getting on these days of the week. Whenever we eyoaqm sit tight, we continue to separate ourselves from those who still take price.”
“If you accomplish that,” he adds, “all of sudden your everyday deal is no longer an arrangement. It’s just like everything. We’ve had our infernal debates about this but we’ve been consistent to separate ourselves from our competitors, as well as provide not fake value but real value.”
As Elliott says, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s current progress is the result of several changes, not one. Value was just the springboard.