Edgy Ads, Low Food Costs, All Part of Teriyaki Madness
Teriyaki Madness CEO Michael Haith’s presentation started with a rap on Asian food: “Teriyaki madness, you’ve got to have this, if you haven’t had this, teriyaki madness," (repeat again and again at a staccato cadence).
“Sorry about that, that’s going to stick in your head for the rest of the day,” Haith told the crowd at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference May 8.
The QSR was started by two college students from Las Vegas who went to school in Seattle where there was a “teriyaki chicken restaurant on every corner.” Not so in Vegas, so the two started their own in a 1,500-square-foot space across from a gym, where body builders walked across the street after their workouts to have a healthy, protein-heavy meal. After a year they hit $1 million in sales. After opening two more, they decided they needed more expertise. Board member Haith, who had grown Maui Wowi and Doc Popcorn, came on as an advisor, and when the founders decided they liked being franchisees more than being the franchisor, Haith sold his two franchises and bought Teriyaki Madness.
The food is simple, he said, marinated grilled meat, rice or noodles and healthy vegetables. Food costs are low and it travels well, which is especially important now that a large percentage of their food is eaten outside their four walls. “We’re uniquely positioned to take advantage of this new wave of delivery,” Haith said. “Asian food tastes better as it comes together.”
Marketing pushes the envelope, or as Haith describes it, “poking them with a chopstick.” Ads, pushed out by social media, are edgy, he said, because “we want people to look forward to the ads.” A back-to-school ad’s headline was: “Education is important. Teriyaki is importanter.”
They currently have 45 locations, with the expectation of 70 by the end of 2018. Average unit sales are $1.1 million.
But, for a restaurant chain, it all comes down to the food. Teriyaki Madness’ food is “delicious food that’s healthy, not healthy food that’s delicious. In my mind that’s a huge difference."
And in one last parting shot: “I can’t feed you here, but there’s a unit between here and the airport,” he said.