Guthrie plans to pitch potential franchisees on three key advantages that the Guthrie’s business holds. The first is being the originator of the space, and the second is the simplicity of the model, which Guthrie says helps keep labor to about half of a traditional quick serve.
“I could teach you how to cook our food in about 30 or 45 minutes, and within a day or two you would be fairly proficient at it,” he says.
The third advantage is the big one: profitability. The popularity of the product combined with its simplicity of operations means that Guthrie’s restaurants crank out a generous profit. And the company is hoping to improve that profitability; to prepare for the next growth phase, it developed a new store prototype that cuts the footprint from around 3,400 square feet to about 2,000, with a heavy emphasis on drive-thru business.
“We can easily do $20,000–$25,000 days out of that 2,000 square feet, and have done that at some of our franchise openings in the last year. If you could do that kind of volume, you don't need a bigger store,” Guthrie says. “We are the most efficient concept there is. … We're the most profitable restaurant concept that there is, and I could put my numbers up against anyone's.”
Guthrie’s has plans for about 20 new locations in the next year, half of which will be corporate owned. Guthrie says the reality of the chicken-finger category today is that the major players are fast becoming national chains, opening the door to nearly every community in America.
“I believe you will see chicken-finger restaurants on every corner in every town, just like you see hamburger restaurants,” he says. “We can pretty much make it work in virtually any size town over 2,000 or 3,000 people.”