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If there were a restaurant marketing Hall of Fame, Jan would be in it. She has survived with flying colors over 35 years in a tough, competitive and ever-changing category.
Most recently Jan served as Vice President of Marketing for The Egg & I Restaurants where she was instrumental in growing the brand from 30 restaurants to over 115 restaurants in less than 5 years.
Prior to joining The Egg & I, Jan served as president of Integer QSR, the third largest field-marketing agency for McDonald’s in the U.S.
Prior to joining Integer QSR, Jan was a partner and vice president for Foote, Cone & Belding where she worked on the Taco Bell account during the launch of its successful 59/79/99¢ value campaign and the rollout of its late night and 24-hour initiatives.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Restaurant of the future after COVID-19
- The drivers of change for restaurants in a “new normal”
- the future of brunch
- Role of off-premise in our future
- Difference of emerging growth brands from other brands
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:07] Welcome to Franchise Marketing Radio, brought to you by SEO Samba Comprehensive, high performing marketing solutions for mature and emerging franchise brands to supercharge your franchise marketing. Go to SEOSamba.com that’s SEOsamba.com.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Franchise Marketing Radio, and this is going to be a fun one today on the show, we have Jan Barnett with another broken egg cafe of America. Welcome, Jan.
Jan Barnett: [00:00:42] Hi Lee, how are you doing?
Lee Kantor: [00:00:43] I am doing great. I’m so excited to learn about another broken egg. Please tell the listeners who aren’t familiar about your concept.
Jan Barnett: [00:00:52] Absolutely. So we are a breakfast and brunch daytime only cafe concept with approximately 80 units from coast to coast and literally just serving breakfast, brunch and lunch. And we also have a full bar as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:12] Oh wow. Can you share a little bit about the history? Did it start out as kind of a mom and pop and then just organically grew into a franchise? Or did it start as a franchise? It was built to be a franchise all along?
Jan Barnett: [00:01:24] Great. Great question. Actually, we started in Mandeville. Louisiana, twenty five years ago, next month, and it was never meant to be a franchise, it was the Broken Egg Cafe and the franchise, or I’m sorry, the founder Ron Green would just get so many inquiries from people about when are you going to open another one? So he thought, Well, maybe let’s give this a shot. So he opened his first franchised location in Destin, Florida, and he called it another broken egg. So the rest is history.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:00] And then from there, just kind of the people who were going there to eat, they were like, Hey, you know, in my town, because Destin is kind of a touristy place. They were like, in my town, there’s none of these like this. So then let me open it. Is that kind of did growth come from that?
Jan Barnett: [00:02:16] Yeah, you’re spot on, right? That’s kind of one of our best kept secrets. Or maybe not is building flagship locations and seasonal parts of the country where we do see a lot of tourism and then we get inquiries about bringing the brand to their home town and we’re franchise dominant. So certainly, we’re looking for franchisees around the country. So those folks that are willing to franchise and open in their. Markets, we are happy to assist with that, but a lot of folks do first try the brand in many of our seasonal locations.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:51] So now how did kind of the pandemic impact your restaurant? Some restaurants were able to kind of pivot pretty good into a, you know, either curbside or or some sort of a delivery. And others struggled a little bit. How did your restaurant do?
Jan Barnett: [00:03:11] Well, actually, we did pretty well. We were only able to keep five of our locations, so five, let’s call it out of seventy five at that point coming into April 20 20 open. And that was strictly with takeout and delivery only which we did not do prior to COVID. I mean, brunch is certainly an exponential day part. So it was all about coming into the cafe for your Benedict and your Bloody Mary. So clearly we had to move quick to get in to off premise and why we kept the five locations open that we did to test various initiatives. So coming into mid-June is when we started to reopen all the cafes and some various form of capacity. Some could do dine in, majority were just takeout. However, by the time we got into September, October of 2020, our premise was generating so much incremental business we were comping. Uh, twenty nineteen and really, we have been positively comping since October of twenty twenty, comping twenty nineteen. So great learnings. Would we do it again? Heck, no, who would butt out of bed came good for sure because we would have never contemplated off premise without COVID.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:28] So then moving forward, that’s going to be part of the playbook.
Jan Barnett: [00:04:33] Absolutely, I mean, off premise is going to remain a big part of our presence, a dominant factor in our marketing, and in fact, we’re even expanding our off premise support to include catering. We’ll be launching Easy Cater next month to capitalize on that holiday catering time period. And then we’ve been dabbling in alcohol to go. So many of the states allowed alcohol to go during COVID, and many of them are continuing to allow it. So we are going to launch that nationally, not only alcohol kits, but individual cocktails to go as well. So yeah, it’s going to be a big part of our marketing moving forward.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:15] Now is there any change in the size of future restaurants or is or is it always going to, you know, because you’re going to experience it is such a critical part of the brand.
Jan Barnett: [00:05:28] That’s a great question, Lee, and at one point we even dialoged do we look at a smaller footprint? However, what we’re seeing is our premise is not cannibalizing. In in cafe dining at all. So, no, at this point, we are not planning to downsize the cafes and in fact, our business is growing so much. And as you look at our premise contributing a quarter of a million, some degrees more than that per average cafe. I mean, what does that do actually to the size of the kitchens? And do you need to have a second line at some point, also just to the size of the bar area or the host and area where we’re actually having to stage to go order? We kind of look like a Chinese restaurant of sorts as we’re starting to figure this out in terms of how to manage all the off premise orders, which are just significant and growing.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:20] Now it sounds like you’re really you’re almost disrupting kind of the future of brunch, are you? What kind of innovations are you kind of building around the concept of brunch?
Jan Barnett: [00:06:32] You know, right now we’re really focused on technology, and I know many restaurants are as well, but we looked at technology pre-COVID as more security, so firewalls and chip readers and as we moved into Culbert, it moved into QR code Table-tennis. I mean, we’ve always used it for training and then we have CDs, but we really hadn’t focused technology on sales. Building loyalty frequency drivers, that’s where we’re going to focus now in a big way. Actually, we’re launching with wisely coming up here Real Soon, which is an amazing firm that’s allowing us now to really deep dove into our guest database and learn more about our guests and how to almost mark it one to one to our guests. Be the dine end user exclusively and off premise user cocktail purchaser, seasonal selections preferences. So that’s where we’re really taking the brand into the future is learning what the guest wants and then providing them with the right message, the right product at the right time. It’s going to be game changing. Honestly, for us
Lee Kantor: [00:07:43] Now, as the chief marketing officer, is your work primarily on building the brand of another broken egg café or is it kind of helping also in the area of identifying and attracting franchisees?
Jan Barnett: [00:07:57] Great question. And actually, I work in both. So certainly driving same store sales is a big part of my job, but also system wide sales and increasing the footprint of the brand actually lifts all boats because as we build more locations, it drives incremental awareness across the country and additional trial for all of our franchisees. So that’s a big part of what I do as well is franchise development.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:27] Marketing now has the ideal franchisee changed, you know, pre and post pandemic or is it kind of a similar person?
Jan Barnett: [00:08:39] You know, that’s another great question coming out of COVID, which literally we’re just now doing right, if you’re thinking about it, I think prospective franchisees clearly were skittish moving in to restaurant ownership. Suddenly, it started in April, continued through a lot of last year into 2020. We’re starting to see that prospective franchisee emerge and start to show interest again in the restaurant industry and specifically in our brand. And yes, it is changing. What we used to see was more and we still love this is the local restaurateur that’s wanting to open one of our cafes in their individual market. But now what we’re starting to see more and more are the multi-unit franchise organizations wanting to expand their portfolio. They’ve seen the growth pre-COVID in breakfast, which was one of the only growing day parts in the restaurant industry for quite some time prior to COVID. And then brunch is coming out of COVID in a huge way. So that’s where we’re starting to gain the interest of those multi-unit franchisees that might have a five guys or a jack in the box or other brands, but don’t have breakfast in their portfolio. So we’re starting to hear from more and more of them.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:01] And in certain markets, are you seeing kind of an opportunity from a real estate standpoint to for those folks to say, OK, this is a good spot for brunch?
Jan Barnett: [00:10:13] Most definitely, and we have very specific criteria that we look for and those sites are becoming more available. I mean, the unfortunate part of COVID as we’ve seen a lot of closures, restaurant closures around the country. So yeah, that is opening up opportunities for us and for our franchisees to get in and get that prime real estate. We’re only open seven hours a day, but we still want to be in that a spot to generate the sales that we need to generate to drive the strong ROI. And we’re seeing our sales just explode, which is really helping our ROI. But yeah, absolutely. The occupancy costs are improving to some degree coming out of COVID.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:58] Now are you seeing an opportunity since you are only open a few hours a day to use the facility as a ghost kitchen for other other things later in the day?
Jan Barnett: [00:11:08] Actually, that is not something yet, and it never say never because I said never to off premise and clearly ate those words. But what Ghost Kitchen we’re not planning to do that right now are concept tracks, franchisees and employees that like to be done at two o’clock in the afternoon, and they can make the same money in a seven hour shift that they would in an evening or dinner shift where they’re away from their family late at night. We’re just not looking to use our facilities beyond what we’re doing currently today. Now, maybe ask me a year from now and would we reconsider that? But today? No, I mean, it’s been very successful for us and we do more than a seven hour a day, then some of the family dining competitors do in 24 hours.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:51] Wow. Now are you seeing because of this, I guess the talent challenge that a lot of folks are having? Are you having that same challenge or is it because you have such a limited hour that it’s attracting certain people that that works perfectly into their life, right?
Jan Barnett: [00:12:11] Perhaps we’re seeing less of a challenge than others? Hard to say. I mean, we have this has been the most challenging staffing season ever. I mean, it really started back May, June. We’re just now starting to tell upright. So five to six months of staffing, increased hourly rates, everything that you’re hearing across the restaurant industry, we have certainly not been immune to. But I can’t tell you that we’ve survived better than anyone else because of our hours of operation which people do like. But there are some people that can’t be at work by 7:00 a.m., either, for the most part. Now we’re back upside, right? From a staffing perspective
Lee Kantor: [00:12:55] Now for getting back to the ideal franchise, you mentioned that a lot of kind of I call them professional franchisees are kind of adding your concept to a portfolio of already existing kind of food service. Are you finding that there’s an increase in that classic franchisee of that retired exec or displaced executive that wants to get more control of their own kind of financial future? Is that are you seeing kind of an influx of that because of the, you know, because of the pandemic, a lot of layoffs and people resigning?
Jan Barnett: [00:13:31] Right. And we certainly saw that in the Great Recession, you know, coming out of that. Yes and no, I I think we’re still early coming out of COVID for that individual to be looking to invest because of the risk or perceived risk, if you will. To invest there. Your entire livelihood into a restaurant brand versus the multi unit, which understands risk and they’ve been through other. Bad times before, certainly nothing like this, but they know coming out of it. That we will come out of it, so I think we’re seeing now because you had asked what the changes that we’re seeing, we’re seeing more multi unit than we are the mom and pop. I think that as we move into twenty twenty two will change and we’ll start to see that mom and pop come back in to the pipeline from a franchising perspective, but we might still be just a slight bit premature.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:32] So is the idea of franchisee then having some kind of restaurant experience preferred? Or can it be, you know, this person that just, Hey, I had a corporate job and I want to control my destiny? Is that is that it must have? Or is that a nice to have the restaurant experience?
Jan Barnett: [00:14:51] It’s a nice to have. Most definitely, not everyone of our franchisees have had restaurant experience and in fact, some of our best, most successful, I should say, franchisees didn’t have restaurant experience. So I mean, we really our kitchens are such that we’ve created them so that Bubba can work and we don’t have peers in our kitchen. So we’ve tried to simplify that but still create an awesome menu. And so, yeah, I think. We’ve got a combination of both that can be successful in this brand.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:27] Now how how important is kind of menu innovation like are you always kind of pushing that and, you know, creating more seasonal and, you know, localized kind of versions of the meals?
Jan Barnett: [00:15:42] Yes, many innovations at the top of our strategy plan, for sure. Majority of first time users coming into the brand site the menu as the reason for coming in and then our visit frequency is significant, like three point seven times per month. So offering variety to those frequent users is also important. And seasonal. So we have three different three seasonal menus per year, plus a holiday menu. So yes, that is very important. And then we also do the same from a cocktail perspective. So not only entree, but cocktails are very important to us as well. Like I said, we have full bar. So that gives us a lot of leverage, we’re not just bloody marys and mimosas. Mm hmm. So we’re pushing a lot now. Margarita, it’s just amazing. We used to buy tequila by the bottle. Now we buy it by the case. Our brunch blueberry margarita is just like, wow flying off the shelves. So it’s been interesting to see the evolution cocktail over the years now going into the brunch category.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:46] Now for you as a marketer, what is more rewarding, seeing that kind of the individual restaurant sales increasing or, you know, seeing the new franchisee numbers increasing?
Jan Barnett: [00:17:01] Oh, wow. No one’s ever asked me, I, you know, I would say it’s a combination of both. Because we won’t generate increased franchise sales without same store sales growth. And happy franchisees. So really, driving the same store sales numbers is critically important to overall success. And I’m equally rewarded by both. Yeah, I love seeing us grow the footprint, which we’ve been doing exponentially now for the past several years. So that’s also rewarding, but I also love seeing our existing franchisees be so successful. So both.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:40] Now any advice for the marketing folks that emerging franchises. Any advice for them to attract new franchisees? Anything you’ve learned over the years, that is a kind of go to that helps kind of get a the escape velocity that a new franchisee or new franchise would need to, you know, kind of get that critical mass, right?
Jan Barnett: [00:18:05] Well, I think number one is obviously success and experience and having a proven concept, which I realize takes a little bit of time to do. But the other and critically important thing to us as having happy franchisees, existing franchisees, they sell the brand. I don’t I mean, it’s really prospective franchisees are calling or visiting our cafes and speaking directly to our franchisees, and our satisfaction ratings are off the charts. They love the brand. They love the support they get. They love the menu. So to me, that is one of your most important success criteria is keep your franchisees happy. Grow your brand. Grow your sales. Never get complacent. Never say enough is enough. Ellen, listen, always listen. Our franchisees there, they’re obviously working the cafes. We’re sitting in a corporate office. So listen, learn and then lead.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:09] Good stuff. Well, Jan, thank you so much for sharing your story today. If somebody wants to learn more about the opportunity or another, a broken egg, another broken egg near them, what’s the website?
Jan Barnett: [00:19:20] Another broken egg?
Lee Kantor: [00:19:22] Good stuff. Well, thank you again for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Jan Barnett: [00:19:27] Thank you so much for having me, Lee. I appreciate it.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:30] All right, this is Lee Kantor. We’ll see, y’all next time on Franchise Marketing Radio.