Even with open dining rooms, the company’s model switched to majority off-premises via carryout, delivery, curbside, and drive-thru.
While customers waited in the drive-thru, employees would distribute breadsticks and napkins. At high-volume units, workers stood outside with a tablet to take orders about five cars back. The fast casual is allowing customers to pick up to-go orders through the drive-thru, which wasn’t planned at first because of the potential logistical nightmare. But it’s proven to work well, especially with cook time being reduced by 20 seconds.
Fazoli’s sales increased 16 percent and traffic grew 17 percent through May and June. In addition to the record-breaking sales in July, the chain experienced a 65 percent increase in drive-thru sales, 410 percent hike in online ordering, and 200 percent lift in delivery orders.
“I really think those three pieces—the fact that we nailed the sanitation piece, which we continue to do so today, we promoted extreme value, and really upgrading the convenience and speed of our experience has really paid off,” Howard says. “Unfortunately, there’s been a large amount of restaurants that are now marked as permanently closed, and maybe some of that is leading to our sales success as we do operate some small markets. But I couldn’t be any prouder of everybody in the field, our franchisees, our senior team, and our home office group.”
Store development and investment are proceeding at the same pace. Howard says Fazoli’s deal is tough to top—the chain touts no franchise fee or royalties in the first year. The brand puts a focus on helping new operators build liquidity in the beginning. It also concentrates on renovating quick-service shells that have a drive-thru or the ability to have one.
Howard says that for Fazoli’s, refreshing locations is below $400,000.
“There’s two brands that convert well for Fazoli’s and there’s a lot of them on the market and in some cases, their tables and chairs are fine. And I don’t care if their chair bottoms are orange and ours are red,” he notes. “If they’re in good shape, that’s fine. But you have to put in the menu and the equipment and the smallwares and the iconic brand elements in there and outside … You don’t have to strip everything away.”
Fazoli’s, which held two discovery days in the past two weeks, has opened four spots in 2020, and plans to open nine more before the end of the year.
The CEO says he wouldn’t be surprised if the company didn’t have 30 to 50 units in process in the next two years.
“We are going to be a brand that is going to sneak up on people. Not only through our growth, but through our performance,” Howard says. “We’re a highly relevant concept. No one else is doing what we’re doing. It’s very hard to do what we do. I think you’ll see some sort of massive growth expansion come in 2021 and 2022 that people just didn’t foresee. People will say, ‘Where did these guys come from?’”