For more than 40 years, Soulman’s Bar-B-Que has been a mainstay in North Texas with the support of longtime loyalists, locals and travelers alike. In recent years, the barbecue institution has seen rapid and impactful growth that garnered attention from national outlets which have covered the positive business trajectory and expanded menu offerings.
In 2017, the company pulled in over $20 million in sales, achieving a growth rate of more than 6 percent in same store sales over 2016. Soulman’s Bar-B-Que is certainly exceeding industry trends and is poised for even more growth and innovation with a laser-tight focus on customer service in 2018.
With plans to increase the brand’s presence regionally through 2018 and beyond, Brett Randle, CEO of Soulman’s Bar-B-Que explains what makes Soulman’s so successful and what they are doing to better equip the company for the future.
“As a team, we have been consistently committed to keeping things authentic and simple. Our future growth depends on a daily focus on what makes our restaurants successful--great food, great service and clean environment to enjoy it. Preserving our heritage is vital to us at Soulman's. We know what we are: a traditional Texas Bar-B-Que house. We do things the traditional way, the right way, and we’re resolved to continue that through our growth,” says Randle.
A gradually improving economy will help restaurant-industry sales continue to advance in 2018, even as restaurant operators face continued margin pressures, a tightening labor market and some lingering consumer uncertainty. Lockstep with fiscal growth, Soulman’s Bar-B-Que has laid the groundwork to support company stores as well as franchisees in 2018 by expanding its executive leadership, evolving culinary offerings, especially in the rapidly growing catering market, and keeping the drive for new franchisees constantly moving forward.
Soulman’s Bar-B-Que expanded its leadership team to include two new roles within the company: Director of Marketing and Corporate Executive Chef.
The hiring of Baylea Wood as the Director of Marketing activated the incremental regional growth of company-owned locations and the necessity for in-house franchise marketing support. “I have been working closely with Soulman’s for more than four years from the agency side and can honestly say that this company is family to me. When they asked for me to work in-house, it was like being called home,” Wood says.
“Being trusted to execute an effective multi-channel marketing strategy for such a beloved family brand comes with challenges, as with any fast-casual concept. Soulman’s, from the CEO to the Meat-cutter, operates all aspects of the company with integrity and that is often more of a testament to longevity than anything. That’s not to say that I don’t believe that we shouldn’t use creativity, efficiency and innovation in each of our marketing activities. I know that I, and the marketing support team, are up for the challenge for continued success.”
Charlie Guajardo, who is, in his heart, obsessed with bar-b-que, came to Soulman’s originally as a General Manager in early 2017, but his talent and pedigree as an Executive Chef quickly became apparent to upper management. “Rather than let a great resource go untapped by our company, we were able to create a role for Charlie as our Corporate Executive Chef. In this position, his priorities are to oversee the quality and consistency of our menu items in all 19 locations and find innovative ways to step-up our catering and culinary event experience,” Randle said.
“My skill set is unique, for sure. I am an expert ice-carver, accomplished bar-be-que competitor, 5-star chef and lover of food. I have been ‘playing with my food’ far longer than most would expect, but I value the canvas that delicious tastes can embellish for weddings, corporate festivities and family events,” said Guajardo.
“Unlike the overall restaurant industry, our sales have been climbing,” Soulman’s COO Randall McGee says. “2017 was the 10th consecutive year for growth. We’re very happy with our future and never has there been a better time to join the Soulman's family.” So far in 2018, Soulman's Bar-B-Que has opened a new store in Wylie, is slated to open a second location in Hurst and will begin construction on additional stores. “Time will tell how far and wide we go, but right now, we are staying close to our core region. This way we can be hands-on to promote best practices from the very beginning.”
Brett Randle sums up this outlook best: “We all believe in the foundation and standards that Soulman’s is firmly rooted in: Great BBQ, Great Service and Great God. From the quality of food to the quality of life, Soulman’s Bar-B-Que is looking at the next weeks, months and years with great anticipation of the progress in our business.”