Church’s Advisory Council to Tackle ‘How’ of Brand Goals
Church's Chicken CEO Joe Christina says the new council of franchisees and corporate leaders will help execute strategies to ultimately grow sales.
As some restaurant brands deal with contentious relationships with their franchisee associations (see stories here and here), Church’s Chicken wants to enhance collaboration between corporate leadership and operators, forming an Excellence Advisory Council to help address improvements to the system.
“Our No. 1 initiative of our three-year strategic plan is to deepen the relationship with our franchisees,” said CEO Joe Christina, who’ll serve as president of the council that will include a handful of other corporate employees and nine or 10 franchisees. While the Church’s Independent Franchise Association is active in discussions of what issues need to be addressed, the advisory council will be tasked with following through on those goals.
“CIFA helps with the ‘what’ needs to get done, then the Excellence Advisory Council is going to come in and help with the strategy and execution of these initiatives,” said Christina. “Really the ‘how’ things get done.”
Priorities for 2019 and 2020 include maximizing delivery sales, upgrading the point-of-sale system and increasing the effectiveness of digital marketing and other technology.
“Our CIFA board has said, ‘Other brands are working on these, we need to be, too,’” said Christina.
David Newman, the franchisee association’s president, noted marketing and brand identity, product development, and improvement of sales and profits as key issues, and said the addition of the Excellence Advisory Council will allow the association to be “a lot more strategic” in its efforts. Church’s Chicken grew systemwide sales 2.4 percent in 2017 to $1.19 billion, according to the recently released Franchise Times Top 200+ ranking.
“It gets key people, key franchisees with key skill sets to do a lot of the work our committees used to do,” said Newman, who has 33 Church’s restaurants in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico. The nine-member association board represents Church’s roughly 800 domestic restaurants.
Newman added Church’s has some “very active” franchisees, but he’d like to see more involvement from across the system and hopes the EAC helps achieve that. “Your ideas are valuable, we want to hear them,” he said.
Franchisees interested in joining the council can submit nominations for membership. Candidates must have a direct impact on restaurant operations and profitability in their respective regions and must also have a track record of success within a specific business area, such as sales, marketing, retention, compliance, etc.
“Who we want are franchisees that have particular strengths in the areas we need to work on,” said Christina.
The Excellence Advisory Council will work in conjunction with the CIFA board, which will have one of its members on the council, and provide regular updates, said Christina.
“All of this came out of wanting to work together,” he continued. “We’re fully aligned going forward.”