Beyond the technical measures, Penegor said, Wendy’s will define its breakfast success across a variety of metrics. Speed of service will be critical, he said. So will consistency and high-quality food that “ingrains the habit,” so guests want to add Wendy’s to their morning routines.
Again, this is something the chain believes will take multiple years. And it’s why Wendy’s is pushing so many incremental dollars into breakfast instead of simply shifting its spend. That’s also intended to guard against a concern from the 2010 push, which was cannibalization on lunch and dinner sales. Wendy’s is not reducing its lunch and dinner marketing budgets as the result of breakfast.
Plosch said cannibalization really hasn’t been an issue in the 300 test stores. It switched old breakfast offerings to new and saw a couple of optimistic trends emerge: Happier crews due to a simpler menu, and a slight rise in sales in line with no additional marketing.
“The great news is it’s all incremental dollars that we’re bringing to the party,” Penegor said. “We’re going to have more media pressure out there. We’re not stealing from lunch or dinner. So we’ll not only be able to showcase breakfast, we’ll continue to be able to keep our nice support on lunch and dinner in all of our messaging. We’ll have a great halo to fresh, high-quality food that Wendy’s continues to deliver. If sales came in a little bit softer, we’re not going to flinch. We’re absolutely committed to this daypart, so we’re very much committed to spend those kind of dollars during the course of this year.”
Penegor added Wendy’s has already seen heightened competitive activity as other fast-food giants ready for its entry. The chain responded, starting with social and, namely, a spot featuring former McDoanld’s chef Mike Haracz trying the new breakfast products.
But the most-critical directive, Penegor said, was getting fully hired before launch. “A lot of folks didn’t think we could hire the staffing for that breakfast daypart and get fully trained. And our teams are energized and excited and our systems are all-in behind breakfast to drive great execution, so we will make sure that we create a great first impression with all the trial that we have as we launch into the breakfast daypart,” he said.
Penegor added franchisees are set up to make money from day one, thanks to the upfront cost and hiring support aided by Wendy’s corporate. The chain paid for the menuboard work. Operators just had to hire and train.
Wendy’s put value up and down its breakfast menu, which highlights some classics in new form, like the Breakfast Baconator and Frosty-ccino. There’s nine sandwiches in total—three on croissants, including two with eggs (sausage, egg and Swiss cheese or a bacon, egg, and Swiss cheese), and a maple bacon chicken croissant. Other eggs sandwiches will be sold on biscuits and classic buns. There’s a honey butter chicken biscuit as well.
Additionally, Penegor said, Wendy’s built its breakfast economic model around a promotional calendar designed to drive trial. “And you will see this week we had a national coupon drop that you probably picked up in your mail just today or yesterday. We’ll continue to monitor the competitive situation and make sure that we’re competitive and we’ve got those plans in place,” he said. One current example includes free coffee with the purchase of an item.
“So fastball down the middle, all SKUs that will move nice and strong, and importantly, high-quality. Fresh cracked eggs on all of our sandwiches every single day,” Penegor added.