Reinvigorating a brand can be a challenge for companies that offer a niche product, but Charleys Philly Steaks accomplished just that, achieving record sales in the process. The cheesesteak-specialty chain recently saw the highest same-store sales in its near 30-year history thanks to a balanced approach to both innovation and its established product.
Since Charleys stores are primarily located in malls, creatively capturing the attention of shoppers is imperative. But, rather than doing so by overhauling its menu, Charleys opted to stick to the cheesesteak-centered menu that made it famous while presenting its offerings in a new way. To do this, the company enlivened the look, vision, and view of its menu.
“We wanted to make people hungry,” says Kris Miotke, vice president of marketing.
Instead of offering potential customers a laundry list of options, Charleys instead brought key menu items—like its famous cheesesteak—to the forefront. Additionally, the company highlighted its value menu more than it had in the past.
But a reimagined menu wasn’t the only catalyst to the record sales. Charleys successful year can also be attributed to the alignment of its franchises, Miotke says. Making sure the near 550 Charleys units were on the same page and offering a consistently great product was a point of emphasis for the cheesesteak chain. This was accomplished by a greater emphasis on company-wide communication between franchisees and enhancing a singular mission amongst all Charleys restaurants.
Additionally, Charleys unveiled a new set of consumer feedback tools. The tools allowed customers to respond to open-ended questions while also providing the company with data on the customer experience and likelihood to return. The new feedback was made available to operators and crewmembers alike, allowing Charleys employees from top to bottom to provide a service tailored to their customers.
The reinvigorated menu, franchise alignment, and new consumer feedback tools combine to create what Miotke calls “the trilogy of success.”
But perhaps the most important aspect to Charleys’ success is its unwavering commitment to its core audience. Despite the renovations, Miotke says, the restaurant chain never shied away from what brought it success in the first place: the cheesesteak.
“So much is written and talked about the new trend, or what’s happening next,” Miotke says. “But what we’ve been able to build our brand on is the same great food that we served from day one.”
Charleys’ ability to subtlety adopt innovations while focusing on the food that made it famous has not only led the company to record sales this year, but also has the chain poised for future success in the years to come.
By James Stramm