Bottomline Boosters

Sizzler’s resurgence over the last three years leans heavily on a litany of financial best practices.
Best financial practices for a challenging restaurant climate.

At its height in the 1980s, Sizzler was a $1 billion powerhouse with more than 600 units nationwide.

As the millennium neared, however, the family steakhouse chain encountered hard times, including a 1996 bankruptcy. The company shuttered stores and downsized operations to about 15 percent of its height.

In 2005, Pacific Equity Partners purchased the concept. Within two years, Pacific was seeking a credible buyer for the fledgling concept. Overvalued and in a downward trending economy, buyers stayed away.

By the time Kerry Kramp became Sizzler USA’s CEO in 2008, the company had endured years of financial losses and sagging consumer interest. The future seemed bleak, but Kramp stood determined to spark a turnaround.

Slowly, the new CEO began carrying out the brand’s rebirth. He spearheaded the redesign of stores, introduced new menu and operational features, and, perhaps most critical, instituted a number of best practices to push Sizzler toward more stable financial footing.

“It took two years to clean up the balance sheet, but we got it done,” Kramp says.

California-based Sizzler now has cash in the bank and momentum behind it, characterized by double-digit sales gains since 2008.

For Kramp and so many restaurant leaders, seeking smarter ways to manage costs, save money, boost on-hand cash, and access capital is imperative for a healthy restaurant. It’s true in any climate, but particularly the present, wherein rising expenses and stagnant traffic threaten to derail those who ignore finances.