The phrase 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 actually 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. Four years later, Elliott says, beef o bradys menu scoped its competitive set, brands like Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, and asked “How can we contest with they?” And also this as a regional player going toe to toe with billion-dollar brands.
“We felt like we might beat them in value,” he says.
That might seem counter intuitive at first. 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 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 this 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, along 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 different generation of clients we didn’t quite understand yet. The “all-things-to-all-people” aftershock of trying not to get left behind when consumer preference shifts but hasn’t solidified yet.
Elliott says Beef ‘O’ Brady’s saw this unfolding and decided to carve out a niche in 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 when we said, ‘look, it is really an area where we can compete.’ It just happened to become they were walking away from it and that we were diving with it.”
Elliott admits those chains have come 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 over a promotional basis,” Elliott says. “It exists in our restaurants every day of every week and we support that throughout the year with a lot more promotions to give it some top spin. But our value is all day, every day.”
“I think the distinction is if you do value you can’t get it done intermittently,” he adds. “It must be a part of your DNA.”
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s daily value continues to be key to its resurgence. Notably, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is taking hardly any price recently, 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 good price. And that’s not a brand promise Elliott is willing to compromise on.
Here’s an example of how serious beef o bradys opening hours is on the subject: Franchisees can’t set their particular prices thanks to an alternative POS system corporate installed.
However the daily deals are definitely the foundation. They work, Elliott says, simply because they don’t change in purpose. Taco Tuesdays, as an example, have operate a $5.99 cost for five straight years. Burger Mondays (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) complete 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 this stuff. And I’m saying, look at the results, guys. Consider the repeat visits that we’re getting on these days of each week. Whenever we eyoaqm sit tight, we still separate ourselves from people who still take price.”
“If you do that,” he adds, “all of sudden your day-to-day deal is not a deal. It’s just like everything. We’ve had our infernal debates concerning this but we’ve been consistent to separate ourselves from our competitors, and to provide not fake value but real value.”
As Elliott says, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s current progress is the consequence of several changes, not one. Value was just the springboard.