“By being able to use the whole bird, that helps us in our purchasing because we're not relying just on going to the vendors and saying all we want are your tenders,” Sheets says. “No, we'll take the whole bird, as well as tenders, as well as wings. And that whole bird we can do great meals with, so it's a wonderful center of the plate option, which then propels our dinner business. And we take that whole bird and pull it. That gives us another leg for our sandwiches. And that pulled smoked chicken is really healthy and really good for you.”
Over the course of three years, Sheets and his team have defined and refined Chick N Max. Amid an unprecedented global pandemic, digital and off-premises channels skyrocketed, and drive-thru more than doubled. Capacity remains at 50 percent despite the local jurisdiction removing restrictions, but Sheets notes stores may cautiously add a seat or two.
The chain has survived and thrived to the point that it’s ready to be replicated. That’s why in late March, the fast casual announced its first franchising program, with plans to target multi-unit operators across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and the Southeast. Chick N Max expects to reach six locations by the end of 2022 and open as many as five new units each year after that.
Sheets says Chick N Max has the processes and systems in place to ensure a consistent product wherever the brand goes—franchising is simply the next logical step. The CEO believes his leadership team has at least 150 years of combined experience, meaning the chain has the requisite talent to support and foster franchisee growth.
“It's the wisdoms in the group,” Sheets says. “The combined wisdom was to sit down and say, ‘OK, how do we want to do this?’ It's the concentric circle approach, and here's where we think it makes the most sense to start, because ultimately it's all about supporting the franchisees. It's all about supporting the people that are willing to jump in and go with us. And we're looking for some experienced operators right off the bat.”