Bojangles searches for franchisees who work inside the restaurant each day and meet with customers and employees. It also prefers individuals/groups with capital, perseverance, and a large, diverse restaurant portfolio. Each new operator learns the ropes through a 26-week training course at the chain’s “Bo University” training facility.
The first big franchising deal of 2021 came when Bojangles signed a development deal with longtime franchisee Jeff Rigsby to open 45 stores in the next seven years. Rigsby, who has been a Bojangles franchisee for 20 years, will build stores in core markets Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and construct 15 units in new market Columbus, Ohio. In addition to this agreement, Rigsby acquired 16 company-run locations to become the largest Bojangles franchisee at 92 units. He’s projected to reach 100 stores by 2022.
A couple of months later, Bojangles announced a “40 and 40” deal with Chaac Foods to open 40 new stores and acquire 40 corporate locations. The new units include 20 in Georgia, five in Tennessee, and 15 in Orlando, Florida. The company-operated stores are based in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Then in June, Bojangles signed franchise agreements with Sajib Singha and Asish Baidya of SAT Restaurant Group and Khalid Siddiqui of LASH Foods to open three stores each in the Dallas and Houston markets, respectively. While the franchisees grow those stores, Bojangles will add 15 company-owned stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The first franchised stores are planned for the first half of 2022, and the first corporate location will debut as early as Q1 2022.
Of the franchisees approved to grow, 100 percent are expanding right now. Costa expects future development to be split 50/50 between new and existing franchisees. Company-run stores are expected to grow, as well. Bojangles currently has more than 270 corporate locations, and hopes to reach a point where it can open 30 per year.
“It just brings a different level of credibility when you're able to tell your franchise system that you are the largest franchisee,” Costa says. “It gives us the ability to understand and manage the P&L. It gives us the ability to understand the challenges of labor, of product shortages, of everything that we're facing right now when it comes to remodels and reinvestment and investing in new equipment and new technology.”
“A lot easier to say we are doing it ourselves for 275 restaurants versus some of the franchisors out there that are asking franchisees to write a check and they are not writing a check themselves,” the executive continues. “So we want to test everything ourselves first. We want to make sure it's the right decision for the brand. And then the conversation is a lot easier if we already have almost 35, 40 percent of the system that we can make that change.”