Notably, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has taken very little price in recent years, unlike many chains trying to capitalize on wage growth and cover for traffic loss. That’s just not who Beef ‘O’ Brady’s customer is, however. They’re price conscious families that want a good deal. And that’s not a brand promise Elliott is willing to compromise on.
Here’s an example of how serious Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is on the subject: Franchisees can’t set their own prices thanks to a new POS system corporate installed.
But the daily deals are the foundation. They work, Elliott says, because they don’t change in purpose. Taco Tuesdays, for example, have run a $5.99 price tag for five straight years. Burger Mondays (the same price) hasn’t change, either, and isn’t anytime soon. Wing Wednesdays (varies by store), Fajita Thursdays ($9.99), and Surf & Turf Fridays ($12.99) round out the everyday value platform. And Elliott says they’re adding Saturday and Sunday deals in the near future.
“The franchises are after me,” Elliott jokes. “They think we should take price on these things. And I’m saying, look at the results, guys. Look at the repeat visits that we’re getting on these days of the week. If we just sit tight, we continue to separate ourselves from people who continue to take price.”
“If you do that,” he adds, “all of sudden your daily deal is no longer a deal. It’s just like everything else. We’ve had our infernal debates about this but we’ve been consistent to separate ourselves from our competitors, and to provide not fake value but real value.”
As Elliott says, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s current progress is the result of several changes, not one. Value was just the springboard.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s average-unit volumes have steadily increased since 2019, from $854,000 to $1.2 million this past year (the company expects to hit $1.3 million in 2019 as it approaches its 35th anniversary).
The company has reported positive same-store sales in seven of the last eight years at an average of 2 percent. Year to date, it’s 3.4 percent, mixed 1.9 percent of check and 1.5 percent traffic. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has been in the green for 27 of the last 30 months.
In June 2018, the brand’s new value offering triggered the strongest quarterly performance it its history—4.3 percent same-store sales with traffic up 2.1 percent.
Before getting into some of the other levers, it’s important to highlight a turning point in Beef ‘O’ Brady’s history. The company partnered with restaurant investment group CapitalSpring in June 2014 to recapitalize FSC Franchise Co., LLC, the franchisor of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and sister concept The Brass Tap.
Elliott says Beef ‘O’ Brady’s was able to invest in restaurants, new tech, and store remodels “in a way in which we moved the ball down the field a lot faster than it had been,” thanks to the ownership change.
One of the biggest differences, which was a day one goal for Elliott, was to buy back stores so they could show franchisees why significant changes were worth the bill of purchase. Today, 26 of the company’s 150 locations are corporate. Once Beef ‘O’ Brady’s brought those into the fold, it remodeled stores, put in a new POS system, upgraded the kitchen for the first time in three decades, and saw immediate results. “And that got the franchise owners attention,” Elliott says.
The updated kitchen, “kitchen 2.0,” debuted high-tech fryers, improved food quality and got food out quicker. The POS sped up service and allowed Beef ‘O’ Brady’s to introduce handheld ordering devices and start testing a loyalty program, which Elliott believes could improve Sunday business.