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Melissa Hodge is Senior Director of Franchise for Krystal Restaurants, LLC, the original quick service restaurant chain in the South. Hodge joined Krystal in 2020 and is focused on maintaining relationships with existing franchisees and procuring prospective ones, while also overseeing the entire franchise sale process.
Since her start, Krystal has seen its first new franchise in over 20 years added into the system to open up a new store. Hodge plays a key role in building the Krystal portfolio as the company purses aggressive growth plans.
Prior to joining Krystal, Hodge spent 10 years with Tom James Company, a fine clothing company. She launched her career with Tom James, where she quickly moved up the ranks and was top rookie in sales. During her tenure, she not only sold millions of dollars in custom clothing, she was also in charge and led sales training, as well as recruiting top notch talent.
Hodge holds a Bachelor of Business Administration, Marketing and Professional Sales, from Florida State University.
Follow Krystal on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- What makes the Krystal menu so craveable
- What consumers can expect to see from the brand in the future
- The brand’s growth goals
- About their new leadership
- How the brand did through COVID, and how the locations are doing post COVID
- What makes an ideal franchise owner for Krystal
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:07] Welcome to Franchise Marketing Radio, brought to you by SEOSamba. 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: [00:00:32] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Franchise Marketing Radio, and this is going to be a fun one today on the show, we have Melissa Hodge with Krystal. Welcome, Melissa.
Melissa Hodge: [00:00:41] Thank you for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:43] Well, I’m excited to catch up with the folks at Krystal. Tell us about Krystal for those of us in the around the country that aren’t familiar.
Melissa Hodge: [00:00:52] Yes. So Krystal restaurant brand were an iconic symbol of American deliciousness. Our guest associate us with fun and with joy and well, we’re not seen as a southern brand. We are influenced by the flavors and tradition traditions of the South. Krystal were best known for our savory square slider that has delighted many generations.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:22] And then how does the growth plan look? Or are people kind of clamoring over Krystal in the markets that you serve now? And is that expanding?
Melissa Hodge: [00:01:34] Well, we are very, very excited to announce that as of this past Monday of our first restaurant by a new franchisee in over 15 years has opened in Dublin, Georgia. So this marks an incredibly exciting time for our organization, and it adds to the momentum that we’ve been building as a part of our aggressive growth plans. We’re really excited about our momentum that’s happening and we’re focused on staying on that upward trajectory.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:09] So now, as part of the growth, have you been developing new prototype stores?
Melissa Hodge: [00:02:15] Yes. So we actually released our new prototype that we’re very excited to begin building this new design. It combines a sleek, contemporary interior and exterior with interactive lighting that caters to consumers for on the go dining desire. We’re looking for a smaller footprint concepts that can deliver on all of our day parts breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:45] So now are you are you finding that kind of drive through and that kind of grab and go is a growth area like that’s that’s kind of a must have in today’s QSR, right?
Melissa Hodge: [00:02:57] Yes. In today’s space, we’ve relied heavily on our drive thru and we are being rewarded for it.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:06] Now, Crystal has done a great job in terms of marketing and kind of partnering, I guess, with these delivery services. Is that kind of part of the growth plan as well?
Melissa Hodge: [00:03:18] We definitely want to continue that on all fronts, on every restaurant that we do open up, we will remain heavily focused on Drive Drive-Thru, walk up windows and also online ordering and third party delivery.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:33] Now how did the brand manage through COVID? That was a tricky situation. It still is for a lot of folks, but I would imagine, you know, being so good at drive thru really helped.
Melissa Hodge: [00:03:46] It helped immensely. And like everyone in the restaurant space who was lucky enough to have a drive thru and be able to rely on that, as well as the off premise dining and online ordering. And again, our efforts are really being rewarded through that as most of our business is drive through. It will remain that way.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:06] Now, as you’re looking to grow, kind of how are you identifying that ideal franchise owner?
Melissa Hodge: [00:04:13] Our ideal franchise owner, we want them to be entrepreneurial. We want them to be growth minded, successful and business restaurant experience is preferred. We it would be great if they know the product. They love the product. Someone who wants to be their own boss and invest in their future. Maybe build this pass this on for generations into their family. Want to expand their portfolio? Maybe they have a territory near them that they’re interested in growing the market, maybe also a business they want to begin. That makes a difference in their community.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:51] Now, are you finding are you also looking for folks that may be are or have other franchises that they’re adding to wanting to add, you know, Cristal to their portfolio? Is that appropriate franchisee as well?
Melissa Hodge: [00:05:04] That would be very appropriate. We love potential franchisees that are already in the operating of restaurants. They understand the space, they want to diversify their portfolio. That gets us so excited.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:19] Now you mentioned Cristal being a southern brand. Is there? Are you primarily focusing on the south or is kind of the nation open right now?
Melissa Hodge: [00:05:28] Nation is open right now. We have a very aggressive growth plan that we’re excited about, primarily right now we are in the southeast and we are going to expand in a way that makes sense. But we’re excited for we will have some announcements coming up that we are really excited to share.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:49] Now, right now, there’s new leadership at Crystal. Can you share a little bit about, you know, who’s in charge now and what kind of background that they’re bringing to the table?
Melissa Hodge: [00:06:02] Of course. And I think this sums it up so great. Every year, the nation’s restaurant news editors select industry executives for their power list. So this year was focused on leadership, and our president, Tom Sager, was named one of the most influential restaurant executives in the country. So this. To me, says it all, this is our leader, and Tom is leading, he is the right people in place. He’s the right team and more importantly, the right vision and we all are. Supporting him and behind him and were such a team, we’re ready to do this together. Our leadership team at Crystal Combined has over one hundred years of leadership experience in the restaurant industry alone. So that’s huge. Aside from additional leadership experience, we really have the right people in the right place to execute our vision at this time, and it couldn’t be more exciting.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:07] So now what does Crystal need more of? Do the more talent right now? Are you looking for just more franchisees? What can we do to help you?
Melissa Hodge: [00:07:18] Well, we are looking for new franchisees. We’re looking to grow. We’re looking to expand both on company stores and on franchised stores, and we really have an aggressive growth plan that we’re excited about.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:34] So can you share some of those growth goals?
Melissa Hodge: [00:07:38] We will have some exciting announcements that we can release soon.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:42] Right now, if somebody wants to learn more about the opportunity to learn more about a crystal near them, what’s the best website
Melissa Hodge: [00:07:49] We can go to our website at? Crystal franchising.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:56] And that’s karwai a.
Melissa Hodge: [00:07:59] Yes. Crystal with a K..
Lee Kantor: [00:08:01] Good stuff. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story today.
Melissa Hodge: [00:08:06] Thank you so much for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:08] All right, this is Lee Kantor will sail next time on Franchise Marketing Radio.