Moving into these fresh markets will bring Woody’s into different barbecue territory, too. The range of regional barbecue preferences in the South are no joke, from Georgia’s sweeter-style sauce to South Carolina’s mustard-based condiment to North Carolina’s shredded meat soaked in vinegar-based sauce, but Williams said that the brand’s menu already includes many of these different styles of barbecue.
Customers can order barbecue slathered in sweet sauce, North Carolina pulled pork, or Texas-style beef brisket at all existing Woody’s locations, meaning that the planned growth won’t require significant menu updates or additions. If a region calls for a different variety of barbecue that Woody’s doesn’t already provide or can’t easily tack onto its menu, then the brand will stay out of that region. “Our goal is to be authentic in every step of growth,” Williams says.
The Woody’s menu is nothing if not traditional, and the brand will be pursuing franchisees who are traditional as well. The brand considers only those with at least $80,000 in liquid assets as potential franchisees, but previous experience with restaurant operation isn’t always the necessary accompaniment for those assets. Instead, Williams says dedication to the Woody’s tradition and brand culture is key for those looking to run a franchised Woody’s unit.
While there is room for slight personal variation between stores, the brand is looking for a network of restaurants that share the same from-scratch tastes, large portions, and traditional feel. And the same goes for employees; while the locations on the docket for Woody’s upcoming strategy may not be sprawling cities or large suburbs, Williams says he isn’t worried about staffing the new openings. In fact, he says the team is actually looking forward to offering positions to members of their target customer demographic, a group that, according to Eastbourne’s data, places great value on Woody’s brand identity, affordability, and traditional menu.
The Eastbourne-Woody’s growth team doesn’t have a projected completion date or end unit goal for the Hometown Campaign. With hundreds of towns across the South that share the demographics and size of the top-performing locations, the brand is prepared to build in any small town that could use a Woody’s. “This is a long-term plan for our brand. We will create in every community that wants us. So whatever number that is, that's our goal,” Williams says.