Bojangles’ wrapped its Master Biscuit Maker challenge yesterday at its Charlotte, North Carolina, headquarters, crowning a top biscuit crafter in an event one executive says the company uses to “recertify our biscuit makers every year.”

“We look at this as a way every year to refocus our whole company and our whole brand on biscuits,” says Kenneth Avery, vice president of company operations for Bojangles’. “What we do is difficult, because we make biscuits from scratch all day long, when there are other competitors out there who stop breakfast at 11 a.m.”

Jose Sosa, a biscuit maker in an Asheboro, North Carolina, Bojangles’ unit, took home the top prize of Master Biscuit Maker. Avery says judges examine speed of biscuit making, as well as physical attributes of the biscuits, when crowning a winner.

Avery says the Master Biscuit Maker challenge, which has been held annually for several years, is a way for the company to excite operators and store employees through friendly competition.

“Our biscuit makers really look forward to this every year,” he says. “It’s an opportunity for them to shine, and it’s amazing to watch these competitors, how much pride they have and how much passion they have for doing well—not only for themselves, but representing their store and area and region.”

Rene Dexter, director of training for Bojangles’, says that though the company isn’t going to significantly change its biscuit recipe any time soon, the challenge is one process that helps company leaders learn a little more about how they can best make the chain’s signature item.

“It’s easy to sit in an office and dictate to the stores what our expectations are, but for us, we’ve kind of turned it around,” she says. “If we go into our stores and see people doing things different that are outside procedures, then we as a brand have to step back and adjust what we’re doing if they’re finding better ways to do things. We’re always learning from our operators. “

Bojangles’ has used the last three Master Biscuit Maker challenges especially to hone in on the procedural and quality aspects of biscuit making, Avery says. Part of that, he says, is getting not just store operators involved in the challenge, but also members of the corporate team.

“We believe for our management philosophy and leadership philosophy to really take route, the leaders have to own certain processes,” Avery says. “We not only expect our crew to be able to execute biscuits, but we also expect our leaders inside the stores and those that are multiunit operators, even the regional vice presidents, [to] compete so they can demonstrate their biscuit-making skills as well.

“We believe that if you’re going to be role models, you have to at any given point in time be able to jump on a station … and be able to help out or if need be, make a batch of biscuits.”

By Sam Oches

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Menu Innovations, News, Bojangles