Wendy's Strives to Delight the Customer, Engage the Operators
Wendy’s Chief Development Officer Abigail Pringle
Wendy’s beloved founder, Dave Thomas, passed away in 2002, but he’s still quotable. From the stage at the Franchise Times Finance and Growth Conference in Las Vegas May 7, Wendy’s Chief Development Officer Abigail Pringle peppered her comments with: “As Dave said, ‘profit’s not a dirty word.'” And, “As Dave said, 'If something’s not broken, break it.'” And his best know quote: “Take care of your business and your business will take care of you.”
Thomas would be proud of the organization he founded. Its goal is still to “become the world’s most thriving and beloved restaurant brand.” Not the biggest, but the best, Pringle stressed. Big, however, is relative, because the quick-service chain has more than 5,700 restaurants in just the U.S. Its had 20 consecutive quarters of growth, and average unit volume systemwide is $1.61 million.
One-third of closures are relocations to areas where the customers are going, she said, adding that they have been able to create a number of different real estate options from their original standalone model, including endcaps, co-development, travel centers and conversions, such as banks. “We try to think differently,” she said, which has led to a number of cost savings for franchisees, from smaller square footage to energy savings. “We’ve added a patio experience,” Pringle pointed out. “We’re always looking for something new” with the objective of never being satisfied, always striving to improve.
The result is that 91 percent of Wendy’s franchisees in 2017 said that they if they had a do over they’d become franchisees again (the industry as a whole is 72 percent). Wendy’s approval rating with franchisees has gotten higher each year while industry response has stayed the same, she said.
The conference continues through noon on Wednesday, when the last group of the 50-plus C-level executives deliver the particulars on their companies.