Even while running at 50 percent occupancy and a few states at take-out only to comply with social distancing, East Coast Wings + Grill (ECW+G) released data showing overall sales in June and July of 2020 that were equivalent to those same pre-pandemic months last year.
Executives of the nearly 40-unit franchise say the steady sales (reflected in the chart below) are a direct result of prudent pre-coronavirus planning, reliance on its core structured discipline and mutual trust between the franchisor and the franchisees. Together, leadership and the franchisees seamlessly executed a plan in March to swiftly shift from full-service to a carryout, delivery and curbside model, followed by a transition back to a manageable dine-in experience when quarantine rules relaxed.
“The relationship between franchisor and franchisee is absolutely critical to the success of a company. This is true no matter what the circumstances are, but the stakes are seemingly more intense in times of crisis and uncertainty,” says Sam Ballas, CEO of ECW+G.
The newly released data shows the plan was successful in terms of unit economics. Despite mandated capacity limitations, June dine-in sales remained stable compared to June of last year and July grew a plus 5.4% over 2019, and take-out and delivery sales continuing to climb forecasting another positive sales increase for August over 2019:
“While most restaurant owners didn’t know what to expect during the pandemic, our franchisees had trust in our brand and in our leadership,” adds Ballas. “With a foundation of discipline, a track record of data driven systems that work and a foolproof plan, we came together as a system to display what a brand can do. We showed that no matter what size you are, you can protect the financial interests of your franchisees, and satisfy the dining demands of the consumer including reallocation of intellectual assets accordingly.”
The brand had originally planned to hold off on expanding franchises into new markets until 2021. However, given the success throughout the pandemic with the new COVID-19 operational model, East Coast Wings + Grill will begin recruiting new franchisees in September 2020 to operate locations mainly in the Southeast, where it already has strong brand awareness. Markets being targeted include North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
“Because we are data driven and after observing the results of the past two months, we have decided to accelerate our new-business growth with franchising in the Southeast,” says Mark Lyso, Executive Vice President of Operations at ECW+G. “When there is alignment with the franchisee and franchisor, the brand has great potential to grow.”