In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn about World of Beer from its Chief Development Officer, Ben Novello.
Franchise Chatter (FC): How long has your company been operating? How many stores do you have and where are they located?
Ben Novello (BN): Since opening the doors of our first location in Tampa, Fla., in 2007, World of Beer has grown to 76 locations in 19 states across the U.S. The company has a robust development schedule with a total of 25 projected openings in 2015, and 35 in 2016.
FC: What made WOB choose to start franchising as opposed to opening more corporate locations?
BN: The executive team at World of Beer knew from experience that local ownership and development was critical to vigorous growth in a company’s early years, so we chose to franchise versus opening additional corporate locations.
FC: Who is the ideal franchisee?
BN: An ideal franchisee for World of Beer has hospitality in their heart, industry experience, previous development experience and local market knowledge.
FC: The brewery and beer business – especially craft beer – has become popular in the past few years. Why do you think that is?
BN: Throughout the food and beverage industry, there has been a return to hand-crafted and locally sourced products. The American indulgence of fast food and prepared food grew in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and as we entered the new millennium, people began to look for the origins behind the food they consumed.
There was a want for farm-raised meat and produce, and understanding of where the food comes from. As that generation continued to grow into adults, this thinking affected their drinking behavior.
Millennials are drawn to brands where they can see the people who create the products. In this way, craft beer was perfectly positioned for this consumer. The growth of craft beer continues, and at 11% of the beer industry, shows no signs of stopping.
FC: How does World of Beer differentiate itself from other beer and brewery companies?
BN: World of Beer is not a brew pub, but a tavern where you can enjoy beer from all over the world. We don’t brew our own beer, but work with local and international craft breweries big and small.
Our variety of beer sets us apart. At each location we have 50 beers on tap and over 500 in the cooler from around the corner and around the world. We have over 24,000 approved beers in our system that we have served in our taverns.
Also setting us apart is our rigorous Beer School training program for our staff. Every staff member at the taverns attends a two-week Beer School, where they are trained on every beer we have in the tavern to help customers through their beer journey by recommending beers based on customers’ tastes.
Our Tavern Fare menu also sets us apart. It’s elevated comfort food that pairs perfectly with the beers we serve.
FC: What are the most important things to consider when someone is thinking about buying your franchise?
BN: At World of Beer, we put a lot of emphasis on our partners, so we look for franchisees that have business ethics and values that are aligned with our company culture.
FC: How do you establish a repeat customer?
BN: We always keep things fresh. Beers are rotated often so there’s always something new when customers come in. We also get exclusive beers from our brewery partners throughout the year, making WOB the place to go to get beers you can’t try anywhere else.
Our Loyalty Program is for beer drinkers who like trying new beers every time they come in. Synced to the customer’s World of Beer App on their smartphone, each new beer gets them closer to cool rewards like beer swag and parties hosted for them and their friends.
We also keep things fresh on our food menu. We’ve just introduced a new seasonal Tavern Fare menu, starting in October of this year. We will be offering 5 seasonal menu items throughout the fall including Habanero Pumpkin Spice Wings and Dogfish Head Meatloaf Sliders.
FC: How has the addition of food impacted your business?
BN: The introduction of our Tavern Fare menu has been a huge growth opportunity for us. Taverns that have implemented the Tavern Fare menu have seen an average increase ranging from 40%-60% in same unit sales. It has also expanded our sales in various day-parts including lunch, dinner, and late night snacks. A food offering widens our appeal to a broader customer base and engages our customers to spend more time in our taverns.