Buffalo Wild Wings has struggled over the past two years with slumping sales along with a monthslong battle between executives and an activist investor. On February 5, the parent company of Arby’s, Roark Capital Group, closed a $2.9 billion deal to get Buffalo Wild Wings. Paul Brown will work as the CEO of the newly formed holding company Inspire Brands, which encompasses Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and R Taco.
The following day, Brown sat down with Business Insider to talk about Inspire Brands and his awesome arrange for Buffalo Wild Wings. “There will probably obviously be some changes for the menu, changes for the experience, and changes to the marketing,” Brown said. Even though Buffalo Wild Wings isn’t going to transform into Arby’s 2., the sandwich chain’s turnaround within the last five-years – which primarily involved shifts in their menu and marketing – has become a blueprint for the future of the chicken-wings chain.
Brown says Buffalo Wild Wings’ biggest problem is that it lost what set it aside from the competition. “I do believe that if you appear back when Buffalo Wild Wings was, really, really successful, it was really the only person on the market doing what it really was doing,” Brown said. “We experienced a nationalized local sports bar, and after that more competition has come in, and i believe that some of that competition continues to be a bit more innovative.”
Brown continued: “I believe there’s the opportunity to figure out the 21st-century incarnation of what made it so successful during particularly the early 2000s.” A “sea of sameness” has emerged as a very common problem inside the sit-down casual-dining industry in recent years. Buffalo Wild Wings, which includes sought to advertise itself less as a sports bar and a lot more being a general casual-dining chain, was distracted by the business sales slump as increasing numbers of millennial diners ditched the sector.
In May, Buffalo Wild Wings’ CEO at the time, Sally Smith, wrote in a letter to shareholders explaining its slumping sales that “millennial individuals are more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants.” Brown plans to emphasize what makes allfoodmenuprices.org distinctive from other sit-down chains. “If it was growing gangbusters, it didn’t position itself against its traditional cast of casual-dining players,” Brown said.
Brown has signaled that Buffalo Wild Wings requires a new menu strategy. Currently, a lot of the chain’s success depends upon chicken prices, which may be extremely volatile. “Ultimately, if you’re in the restaurant business, it boils down to food and innovation,” Brown said. To update Buffalo Wild Wings’ menu, Inspire Brands is embracing Arby’s for inspiration.
When Arby’s spun off from Wendy’s in 2011, it was losing millions of dollars a year. Brown took over as CEO in 2013 and drastically revamped the chain’s menu and marketing plan. In 2016, Arby’s reached $3.7 billion in sales, making around $1.1 million in sales per US store, up 20% from the time Brown joined the chain. Arby’s had realized that it required to serve menu things that customers couldn’t buy anywhere else, Brown said. And when the piece was sold elsewhere, Arby’s needed to get the lowest price.
The chain kept its iconic roast-beef sandwich and Jamocha shake but began rolling out limited-time offerings like the Meat Mountain, that contains every meat on Arby’s menu between two buns. At Buffalo Wild Wings, whose menu has been little changed through the years, Brown wants to roll out a similar strategy: trying to find things that other chains aren’t serving but that Buffalo Wild Wings provides.
“There’s been a loss in product development at Buffalo Wild Wings with time, partially because casual dining up to now has not done as much from it,” Brown said. Inspire Brands wants to fix that with a “systematic approach” that Brown says allowed Arby’s to rapidly churn out creative new menu items.
Arby’s success has additionally been associated with its creative and sometimes borderline bizarre marketing plan. The chain debuted the bold “We Have Now the Meats” campaign in 2014. Its social-media manager was given more freedom that year following a tweet comparing Pharrell Williams’ hat in the Grammys to Arby’s logo went viral. Brown described the approach as “produce the personality, the brand, use earned media and all forms of earned media to produce a persona around it along with an awareness around it.”
“If you feel regarding it, the Buffalo Wild Wings brand is designed for that,” he stated. He suggested Buffalo Wild Wings’ “persona” wouldn’t become a rip-off of Arby’s but would involve taking similar risks. “If we sit here annually from now avnnkf that Buffalo Wild Wings is sounding similar to Arby’s, we failed,” Brown said. Brown continued: “I do believe that will be the key – how we actually take the learnings and also the capabilities from what we’ve done and leverage those learnings, leverage the infrastructure, and do it in a way that the brands look totally different from the other person.”
When asked what customers should expect to change at Buffalo Wild Wings, Brown said, “Nothing.” A lot of the work to transform the chain around is going to be occurring behind the scenes, at the very least for the following month or two, he explained. Brown says he’s already met with some Buffalo Wild Wings franchisees. And then in January, before the deal officially closed, Inspire Brands started consumer research to find out what exactly is going wrong at the chain and discover what Buffalo Wild Wings’ new era should consider looking like.