“We were just a little bit smarter than the other guys, saying hey, listen, all of these strategies aren’t just going to work out,” he says. “… It’s our in-depth, in-touch strategy with our consumers and understanding consumer behavior. And sometimes I think that’s where a lot of brands miss the point. They sit in a room and talk about ideas where in reality the execution will fail. The strategy is as good as the execution and sometimes a lot of brands miss that point. We center all of our decisions through consumer insights and our franchisees, too.”
The experience was part of a watershed year for the Cincinnati-based brand. Buffalo Wings & Rings hit the $100 million mark in systemwide sales for the first time and grew its restaurant count by 10 percent. In 2018, it expects to expand another 10 percent, add 300 jobs across the system, and sign 10 new franchise deals to stuff the pipeline.
Philip Schram, chief development officer of Buffalo Wings & Rings, purchased the brand—founded in 1984—in 2005 with a management team led by Schram, Masadeh, and Haytham David.
The fact its owners are also leading operations isn’t a fact Schram believes is lost on franchisees.
“All the profits that are made stay in the company and I think the franchisees really appreciate that,” he says. “There is commitment from the ownership. That cascades down to the executive team of the company. We’re all very involved in the decision-making progress.”
Currently, Schram is drawing a 120-mile radius around Cincinnati to drive the brand’s growth from the inside out. There’s a restaurant in Tennessee, three in Illinois, four in Kentucky, six in Indiana, and 14 in Ohio. The company is focused on bringing units to Michigan and Pennsylvania. It also has plans for Florida and Texas, and expects to debut in Minnesota and Kansas to link its established markets—all before the 2018 calendar turns over. In 2017, the company opened new restaurants in Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, Nebraska, and North Dakota.
Buffalo Wings & Rings teamed with eSite Analytics to aid in site selection. The on-site software, which is in-house, helps Buffalo Wings & Rings forecast the size of the submitted location by franchisees.