The Big Game at Wing Zone? Selling 1 Million Wings in Three Hours
At Wing Zone, the company’s “big game” is the days and hours right before kickoff of the actual Super Bowl. In that time, the company does an absurd amount of business.
The company expects this Sunday to be another $20,000 day per restaurant, much of that coming in the few hours before kickoff.
“We really treat the Super Bowl as the start of our year. It’s all hands on deck, we really want to promote it bigtime, we’re not one of those that wonder if it’s going to be busy, no, we go all in,” said Matt Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Wing Zone. “Everyone works, we pull in some outsiders, some former workers. The prep starts Friday and Saturday, we’re preparing sauces and blue cheese and reach and celery.”
He said one of the key things that make it all manageable on game day is by staggering the pick-up times for customers so there isn’t an untenable line of angry football fans in the last hour before game time. Instead, operators give out a 10-minute window for pre-order customers. During that window, customers are guaranteed to wait less than 10 minutes. They’re honest that it’s going to be busy, and he said customers understand. It's also quite important for the roughly 2,500 square-foot of Wing Zone locations, there's just not room to wait for many people.
New franchisees understand it’ll be busy too, but the company puts a special emphasis on helping them mange the intense surge of business including extra coaching and some in-person field support to help out.
Another tactic to keep up with the demand they try to create with “aggressive marketing” and in-order promotions in the month leading up to Super Bowl Sunday is slimming the menu. To make room in the kitchen for the many, many wings Friedman said a lot of not-so-gameday grub gets axed.
“We run a limited menu where we eliminate a lot of our burgers and apps. And we limit some of the choices on our packs,” said Friedman. “There’s not a lot of customization, it’s about volume and servicing a lot of people, and people understand.”
For the few folks that brave the busy day or don’t know about the Super Bowl, he said they’re encouraged to return for a deal later. That’s something he does in every game day order too, and it drives one in three people back to Wing Zone in the week after the Super Bowl. Of course some freebies help.
“We don’t want to be thought of as just a Super Bowl concept,” said Friedman. “We do an aggressive bounceback, anyone who is in on Sunday gets it.”
This year, it’s promoting a new product, Wing Zone’s thigh wings. Customers can also get traditional boneless wings too.
And once the fryers have cooled down and things return to normal, he said the company pours over the data, looking for opportunity by the end of Monday. He said if it all goes right, he’s expecting to sell a lot of wings this weekend.
“On a per-restaurant basis, we sell about 12,500 wings. The average person is eating about five wings, it’s several thousand people, about 2,500 people per restaurant and about 80 locations. So, if my math is right, it’s a 200,000 people and a million wings,” said Friedman—and the math checks out.
For all the wing slingers out there, good luck this weekend!