Carl Howard has been CEO of Italian quick-serve chain Fazoli’s for more than a decade, and has seen it through significant brand evolution and growth.
Now, with the coronavirus outbreak sending sales plummeting across the restaurant industry, Howard is trying to steer the franchise through the most difficult business challenge since the Great Recession.
His best survival tip? Don’t forget about sales.
“The first thing is don’t give up on sales. We’re communicating what we do offer,” he says, pointing out that Fazoli’s is marketing its drive-thru and off-premises opportunities to customers, as well as a series of discounts like free kids’ meals. “We’re going on the attack as it relates to sales and trying to stay aggressive to limit the amount of sales that we’ve lost.”
Still, Howard says stemming the loss of sales isn’t enough to keep the lights on at the restaurants. He says the company has also employed several cost-cutting measures to “preserve liquidity” wherever it can.
“[It’s] simple things, ongoing costs that are not needed, but we stopped carpet cleaning, we reduced hood cleaning and moved it back, going to one trash pickup a week,” he says. “We enacted all the same things in our home office—our home office is currently dark. Everything that you can think of to reduce costs, we’re taking a look at.”
Stream the podcast above to hear more from Howard about strategies Fazoli’s is using to keep the lights on through the pandemic.