Burger King turnaround plan boosts sales and customer satisfaction


Seven months after Burger King unveiled a strategy to relaunch its business in the United States, the chain is selling more Whoppers than ever.

Burger King’s U.S. President Tom Curtis told CNBC that preliminary improvements to restaurant operations and new marketing campaigns are already boosting sales and customer satisfaction, although this is just the beginning.

Head quarter International restaurant brands will release its first quarter results and sales results for its divisions, including Burger King US, before the May 2 bell. Last quarter, Burger King’s U.S. same-store sales increased 5% as the first stages of the turnaround plan were implemented.

The $400 million plan to rejuvenate Burger King’s domestic sales was developed in partnership with franchisees and focuses on revamping its restaurants and investing in advertising.

“What’s happened over the last six months is this feeling of ‘we’re in this together’ that we have with our franchisees. I think that’s unique in the industry, and I think that it differs from what you see from some competitors like well,” Curtis said.

burger rival McDonald’s has had high-profile arguments with its operators over the years. Recently, tension has boiled over changes to its franchise policies.

Before Burger King announced its official turnaround strategy, the company spent about a year streamlining its operations in an effort to improve ordering efficiency and accuracy, Curtis said. For example, Burger King reformulated and renamed its chicken sandwich. The now-retired Ch’King sandwich involved 21 steps to prepare the final menu item. The Royal Crispy Chicken sandwich only takes five.

After announcing its “Reclaim the Flame” strategy at a franchise convention in September, Burger King focused on an in-store training program for all of its restaurants that required employees to greet customers, properly prepare the Whoppers and handing out the iconic Burger King crowns. . Curtis said it was “the biggest thing we did coming out of the convention.”

Burger King also held CEO roundtables in 45 cities. These roundtables included training general managers on how to execute a five-week deep clean of their restaurants.

“I think those things are fundamentally important, and they’ve resulted in a 20% increase in customer satisfaction,” Curtis said.

Additionally, Burger King launched its “You Rule” marketing campaign this fall. The chain’s mascot, the Burger King, does not appear anywhere in the advertisements. Instead, customers are royalty.

And despite Curtis’ initial misgivings about the “Whopper Whopper” jingle used in the campaign (he was disappointed with the lyrics and asked the marketing team to redesign it), the song gone viral and spawned memes on Twitter and Tiktok. The company officially released the song in response to the popularity, and it has nearly 3.3 million streams on Spotify as of Friday.

“We’re selling more Whoppers than ever. It’s had a really positive impact that we didn’t pay for or plan on the business…it really exceeded my expectations,” Curtis said, adding he was thrilled for Restaurant Brands. to release his winnings.

Since the company announced its “Reclaim the Flame” strategy, former Dominos Pizza CEO Patrick Doyle has joined Restaurant Brands as Executive Chairman. Doyle oversaw the transformation of the pizza chain into a digital powerhouse in the restaurant industry. Curtis, who started as a Domino’s franchisee, worked alongside Doyle during his long career at Domino’s as operations manager before joining Burger King in 2021.

One of Doyle’s priorities for Burger King has been to improve franchisee profitability. Two Burger King franchisees have filed for bankruptcy so far in 2023. The first franchisee to file for bankruptcy, Toms King Holdings, sold most of its locations at auction for $33 million earlier in April.

“I don’t want to say it’s welcome, because it’s not, but I think if handled properly, the outcome can be better than before,” Curtis said.

As early signs indicate the turnaround is setting in, Curtis is postponing the victory lap for now, pointing out that “Reclaim the Flame” is meant to be a multi-year growth strategy.

For example, of the $50 million that Restaurant Brands has spent on improving restaurant appearance in conjunction with franchisees’ own investments, Burger King has only spent $15 million in 2022.

“We’re not even halfway there, and these things just take time,” Curtis said.

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