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jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

Labor Lessons

Real growth continues to be hard to come by for the foodservice industry. In fact, overall customer traffic was flat through the first quarter of 2016, according to The NPD Group, a market research firm covering the foodservice industry. Revenues and customer traffic may be inching along, but one area growing at breakneck speed is labor costs.

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jMartinez
Juan Martinez

Post NRA Thoughts: My Labor Costs are Killing Me! What Can I do About It?

The National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show has come and gone to much fanfare. From what I saw and read, the participation was phenomenal. We were able to bring our full consulting team from all of our offices and even made time to break some bread together.  This year, I also participated in a panel discussion that explored unit economics  and was moderated by Steve Romaniello, managing director of Roark Capital.

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jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

Food Delivery Up, Meal Kit Potential and More

What’s up with meal kits? More consumers are having restaurant meals delivered but there’s a catch. Dunkin’ Donuts cuts a major deal with BJ’s Wholesale club. These stories and a whole lot more This Week In Foodservice

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Highlights

Chain Innovators: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

Dickey's Barbecue Pit is getting bigger in part by going smaller. With the format sights set on becoming the largest barbecue chain in the country (it's already the largest quick-service barbecue chain), Dickey's has kicked off an aggressive expansion drive with a smaller, more streamlined prototype.

Dickeys Barbecue PitWhile the format is scalable for conversion of existing larger units, the sweet spot for new units is 1,800 sq. ft. — down from 3,000 to 4,000 sq. ft. In addition, except for a couple of proprietary items, the chain ditched its former specs for new, customized equipment packages that typically ran up to $200,000 in favor of more practical off-the-shelf units, including some used ones. Such changes have brought unit opening costs down to a third of what they were just a couple of years ago, says Daniel Sibly, director of construction.

Sibly describes the new Dickey's as the result of a "perfect storm" of factors. The financial crisis was an obvious catalyst, but at the time the chain was already in the process of reevaluating every aspect of its business with an eye toward gaining efficiencies and cutting costs. "In addition to re-thinking our equipment, we decided to focus in hard on our original simple service model. So all three of these areas — size, equipment and service model — came together beautifully in our new prototype to help us lower costs, be more efficient, serve our guests quicker and let franchisees get in the stores more cheaply. Many can now self-finance and use landlord incentives to greatly off-set their opening costs."

And they're doing just that. Jumping on spaces vacated during the recession by limited service sandwich and coffee chains, Dickey's this year should pass the 200-unit mark —securing its barbecue segment dominance.

Fast Facts:

  • Year founded: 1941
  • Headquarters: Dallas
  • Menu specialties: Hickory-smoked meats and home-style sides
  • Service model: Fast-casual, drive through
  • Units: 147 (82 percent franchised)
  • 2010 sales: $120 million
  • 2010 growth: Revenue increased by 6 percent and 33 units were added
  • Projected 2011 growth: 65 new units
  • Key expansion markets: North Carolina, California, Texas, Minnesota
  • Typical location: In-line or end cap unit with drive-through
  • Average unit size: 1,800 sq. ft.
  • Average kitchen space: 720 sq. ft.
  • Average check: $9.74
  • Total equipment investment per unit: $25,000–$75,000
  • Total unit cost: $58,101–$393,521

Key Players

  • President: Roland Dickey Jr.
  • Director of Franchise Development: Richard Phillips
  • Director of Construction: Daniel Sibly
  • Senior Director of Operations & Area Development: Tim Sharp
  • Vice President of Operations: Corby Cronin
  • Food Distributor: Sysco Corp.
  • Key Consultant: ID Studio 4
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