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Road Warriors Help Open New Units
The company deploys what it calls its “Road Warriors,” a team of its best employees who come to a newly opening franchise and stay for as long as 16 days to help train staff and run operations until the new owner and staff reach an acceptable standard and comfort level.
Because Burger 21 is a relatively new brand, building awareness is crucial. Currently, franchisees and company stores contribute 1 percent of revenues to an advertising fund to pay for marketing support, public relations professionals, graphic designers, website management, billboards, etc. Marketing materials are available for individual markets online.
As it spreads to other markets, Burger 21 also plans to establish “marketing powwows” with several different franchisees forming a co-op to strengthen their marketing dollars.
Burger 21 is also drawing attention to its menu by introducing a limited “featured burger” on the 21st of every month. Not only does it create excitement for the customer base, individual units donate 10 percent of sales for that day to a needy community organization, usually a school, Stone said.
“It’s a great thing to do, but it’s also a great marketing tactic.”
If Burgers Could Eat Burgers
The company launched its first marketing campaign in summer 2012 with the tagline: “What burgers would eat if burgers could eat burgers.” And a special offer of two sliders and fries for $4.99 could become a national promotion, Stone said.
The biggest challenge Burger 21 faces could be the economy.
“It’s harder to get financing when you are a smaller company that doesn’t have a long track record,” Stone said. “That’s been a challenge from the franchisees’ perspective.”
And Burger 21 is still researching just who its core customer is.
“We can study it in Tampa, but that doesn’t mean that’s who the Burger 21 customer is across the country,” he said. “We want to be able to create some forecasting and modeling tools for success. We’re just a couple years away from that.”
Meanwhile, Front Burner Brands has a corporate office with 65 employees who have franchising expertise to launch the Burger 21 brand successfully, Stone said.
“Some people are very excited about getting in on an exciting brand early on. Others don’t want to be late coming to the party.”