Ortiz expects growth to come from both new and existing franchisees. In terms of how many stores he’d like to sign, the executive frames it up by describing his ideal customer. Perkins wants multi-unit, multi-segment operators—groups that are eager to add something new to their portfolio. In Ortiz’s experience, he’s sold to the top owners in the U.S. who committed to anywhere from three to 23 units. For Perkins specifically, he believes the brand is capable of selling 20 to 30 franchises in the fiscal year, which started in May.
The chain also has roughly 80 company-run units that it's willing to refranchise. That type of deal would come with a development component, meaning operators that accept those refranchised stores would be expected to develop additional locations.
“I'd like to believe that we're going to bring in at least three to five owners who are going to do multiple unit deals. It's hard to say,” Ortiz says. “If you know me from Focus Brands or from Qdoba or from Potbelly, my average buyer at those companies averaged about 10 per deal. It could be that we sell three and we sell 30. I like to believe, to be very conservative here, that we'd like to go out and do 20 or 30 units this year.”
Perkins is primarily known for its breakfast offerings, a daypart that suffered greatly during the pandemic because of workers remaining home the loss of the morning routine. The initial hit was massive. In mid-April 2020, breakfast transactions were down 54 percent compared to a year ago, according to the NPD Group.
But as restrictions have eased, the daypart has come back to life. Ortiz assures existing and new franchisees see value in the segment, and that he hasn’t seen operators shy away from it. It’s been the opposite, really—the pipeline is growing by the day.
It’s also important to note that Perkins’ package features a high-performing lunch and dinner business, as well. The dayparts break down to the following: Lunch, 33 percent; breakfast, 32 percent; dinner 27 percent; and late night, 8 percent. So when Ortiz sells to multi-unit operators, he doesn’t solely mention breakfast because he knows franchisees are interested in a brand with the total package.
“When people say Perkins, they think breakfast, but there's a huge population out there that knows us for lunch and dinner, as well,” Ortiz says. “That's what I'm selling to these groups. I'm selling to them that, ‘Hey, listen, we're just not breakfast. We’re four dayparts basically.’ And they're buying into it because they can see that the numbers reflect that four dayparts, not just breakfast. They can see that we are getting back to normal post-COVID, we've made changes in our business to promote the business even further. And so the interest level has been great. I'm excited about the future with this company.”