Bahama Buck’s Franchise Corporation entered 2020 in hopes to celebrate its 30th year anniversary with a mass amount of celebration. Instead, like everyone, plans changed and sales began to drop. By the end of March 2020, Bahama Buck’s experienced a system-wide decrease in sales of 17.72 percent, after beginning the year up at a healthy 8.7 percent average sales. The sales decrease led to panic, shock, and quick innovation, giving Bahama Buck’s store owners a short window to drive sales in the midst of a complete shutdown.
The solution was to boost drive-thru efficiency and speed of service while increasing online orders. This combo pivot strategy created an increase in sales of 13.93 percent system-wide.
Bahama Buck’s has 100-plus locations, 76 percent of which have a drive-thru. Many of the locations without a drive-thru utilized online ordering to support sales while dining rooms were closed and experienced online sales increases from 2 to over 10 percent of overall sales from April through June.
As have most restaurants, Bahama Buck’s has been riding the COVID wave through 2020. Prior to March 15, average store sales were up a healthy 8.7 percent over 2019. Once the initial effects of COVID started taking place, the next 30 days, through April 15, saw sales decrease 17.72 percent. During those 30 days, sales started gaining momentum through the end of April. That momentum continued through the summer months as AUV has increased 25.01 percent from April 16th through July 31st. Despite the roller coaster, overall sales on the year are up 13.93 percent and are continuing to see sales being up over 20 percent as we continue through the remainder of 2020.
These are some of the main reasons for the boost. First, currently, drive-thru locations comprise 76 percent of all Bahama Buck’s locations. Non-drive-thru store sales were 50-80 percent lower during the first 30 days of COVID mandates while drive-thru locations during this time saw flat to slight increases in-store comps. Second, warmer weather patterns in 2020 contributed to higher sales volume despite the restrictions of in-store dining options. Third, product innovations through a revamped smoothie menu, as well as limited-time shaved ice menu promotions featuring Albanese Gummi Bears and Wells Blue Bunny’s Bomp Pop, have grown organic traffic. Lastly, online sales for non-drive-thru stores have increased from under 1 percent of all sales to over 10 percent of sales. Along with increased volume, this has helped non-drive-thru stores experience an increase of 2 percent in AUV from May through July versus 2019.
Initial indications since July show continued momentum for the remainder of the year. August sales are currently tracking at a 25 percent increase over 2019 sales. Weather forecasts continue to show warmer than expected weather for the remainder of Bahama Buck’s peak sales months. While a shift in the pandemic could occur, the operational implementation of policies and guidelines for guest and staff safety used during the first round of COVID, as well as increased sales generated through online ordering, should help offset some of the sales risks due to another flare-up of COVID. Hopefully, this would lead to higher store sales if the pandemic rises through the remainder of the year.
In addition to the increase in sales, Bahama Buck's stores are reporting lower COGS and payroll costs. Through the second quarter in 2020, Payroll has dropped to 24.62 percent and COGS are being reported at 21.05 percent of sales for the year.