How Layne’s ‘Back to Basics’ Operations Approach Attracts Franchisees and Guests Alike

How Layne's 'Back to Basics' Operations Approach Attracts Franchisees and Guests Alike

The chicken finger franchise has struck an ideal balance between sophistication and simplicity to create a model that everyone loves.

How Layne's 'Back to Basics' Operations Approach Attracts Franchisees and Guests Alike(RestaurantNews.comLayne’s Soon to be Famous™ Chicken Fingers, the cult-favorite chicken franchise with 16 restaurants open and another 200-plus sold, is nothing if not reliable. “Born and breaded” in College Station, Texas, in 1994, Layne’s quickly built a loyal fan base with its crispy tenders, crinkle-cut fries and signature Layne’s sauce, and the decision to stay true to what it’s known and loved for has been a key driver for the brand’s continued success.

“We’re true to who we are,” said Samir Wattar, chief operating officer. “I truly believe in this: find what you’re good at and be great at it. That has never changed. If we’re good at it, we’re going to be great at it. Nobody’s going to be better than we are, whether that’s cleaning a restaurant, hiring the right people or making delicious food.”

This approach directly reflects another one of Wattar’s primary objectives in his work with Layne’s: protect the brand and protect the franchisee. Though the leadership team is not opposed to innovation, it takes changes to the system and model seriously.

“Once you start franchising, it’s not just your brand anymore,” he said. “You owe it to your franchisees to stay true to the model they invested in.”

“There are brands out there that have found success in diversifying their menus, and there are brands like us that stay true to what they do,” CEO Garrett Reed added. “We’ve proven that we can do the sales volumes we need to do with the menu we have. And there’s something very attractive to a franchisee about having an extremely simple model that still delivers the numbers they need to be successful.”

To ensure the model remains “extremely simple” and doesn’t muddy the waters for franchisees working to scale, the leadership team is very intentional with the changes it does make. Just as it’s selective about whom it welcomes into the system as a franchise owner, it’s careful with menu updates, technological advancements and other things that will alter the guest experience.

“We do need to stay on top of technology trends, which is where we get to the app,” Reed said. “We spent an incredible amount of time testing that and making sure it was aligned with where demand was shifting toward. We knew we were going to need to add some technology, so we went ahead and implemented it. We now have 60,000 app users, but that tremendous success comes from the fact that we spent so much time at the corporate level making sure it was right before we rolled it out to our franchisees.”

Reed described a similar approach to Layne’s working with third-party delivery services. The team did not want to sacrifice the quality of food or service, so it worked diligently to ensure the delivery systems were efficient and local restaurants had the proper packaging to get an order to an off-site consumer without sacrificing taste or freshness.

“Guests of our corporate testing store here in Frisco, Texas, might see us try some things on occasion, but beyond the Frisco market, by the time a change becomes forward-facing to our guests, it’s a permanent fixture,” he said. “Whether it’s a new technology, new menu item or an update to digital menu boards, everything is tested through and through before it gets rolled out to the system.”

When franchisees can rely on steady, streamlined operations, they can devote more time and energy to other efforts that create an even better customer experience. For example, Layne’s franchisees consistently reach out to their communities to sponsor local sports teams and host fundraising Spirit Nights. Many also reach out to churches, synagogues and mosques in the area, and some offer special promotions to community servants like first responders.

Layne’s reliability serves to draw guests back time and time again, but when they feel that their local Layne’s team is connected with them beyond the four walls of the restaurant, the loyalty runs even deeper.

“The restaurant business is simple; nothing has changed,” Wattar said. “If I ask you to remember the best restaurant experience you’ve ever had, it’s never going to be about the food. Great food does not make up for a bad experience, but a great experience can make up for okay food. We are great at both, and that’s what keeps franchisees’ and guests’ attention on Layne’s.”

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Lauren Turner

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Author: How Layne’s ‘Back to Basics’ Operations Approach Attracts Franchisees and Guests Alike June 5, 2024 12:04 pm

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