Sizzler Re-Ignites Franchising;
Launches Interactive Franchise Sales Web Site
March 15, 2010 03:47 PM Eastern Daylight Time
CULVER CITY, Calif.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--With a top-to-bottom brand overhaul well underway and a new leadership team in place, Sizzler, America’s original family steak house, is again in the franchising business.
“That’s what made Sizzler a great brand, and that’s what will enable us to succeed as we resume franchising.”
Chief Executive and President Kerry Kramp suspended franchise sales shortly after taking the job in 2008. “We really needed to stop and take a close look at every aspect of the business,” Kramp said. “We spent the last 18 months listening to our franchisees, our staff and our guests with the goal of learning what makes people love Sizzler.”
Kramp is the first to acknowledge the job of rebuilding the brand is not over, but he’s confident enough in Sizzler’s retooling to resume selling franchises. Veteran restaurant development executive Mark Lyso recently was hired to lead the new franchising effort. Lyso’s involvement is credited with helping Famous Dave’s grow from two to 175 restaurants in his 14 years.
Lyso led development of Sizzler’s new interactive franchise sales Web site, which is accessed from the Sizzler.com home page. The site provides a detailed look at the brand and the opportunity it presents, as well as franchise requirements and operator support.
In addition to hiring Lyso, Kramp appointed Steve McDermott, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Finance, Dennis Scott, Chief of Strategic Development, and Tamra Scroggins, Research and Development Manager.
Re-Building Value: Food, Hospitality and Environment
At a time when many casual dining restaurants are experiencing double-digit sales declines, “Sizzler has experienced sales increases during 13 of its last 17 sales periods,” Kramp said, even though most of its restaurants are in economically depressed California. “To produce these kinds of results during the worst recession since the Great Depression shows Sizzler is on the right track and is a very viable concept,” Kramp said.
Kramp concluded Sizzler was no longer delivering the value that made it successful. “We had to figure out how to serve really good food at a price people could afford,” he said. At first blush, Sizzler’s food may not seem much different, but it has undergone dramatic changes. The number of menu items was reduced by 25 percent and virtually all remaining items were updated or improved. Scott directed the food re-engineering.
Research showed guests found greater value in meals bundled with the Endless Salad Bar, rather than priced as an add-on. So Sizzler began offering $9.99 entrees that include the salad bar. The chain is now in the process of going to all hand-cut steaks and making more items from scratch, such as soups, salad dressings, guacamole, pico de gallo, and tossed salads. It also is baking breads and desserts in-house. Some restaurants even have mini-bakeries in guests’ view.
Kramp likes to refer to the front of the house as a “stage” for Sizzler’s food and hospitality. The chain’s new restaurant design, in use in two locations so far, provides a dramatic new setting. A contemporary “Americana” look, it features a combination of light and dark woods, earth-tone carpeting and extensive use of stone to create a warm, comfortable, lodge-like dining environment. Photos reflect each community’s diversity.
A recently remodeled Los Angeles restaurant has posted monthly sales gains as high as 25 percent since being updated.
Franchising the Future
Although Sizzler is again franchising, Kramp has set no lofty goals, instead preferring to focus on attracting the right partners. “We’re not going to pedal franchises for the sake of selling them,” he said. “We would like to invite people to review our model and experience our new restaurants, which we believe will speak for themselves. We’re looking for a few highly professional franchisees who see the unique value and opportunity the rebuilt Sizzler offers and see the unique fit this business has with today’s consumer.”
For now, Sizzler is focusing its development efforts in the Western U.S. Kramp and Lyso have their eyes on markets where there are underperforming or closed casual restaurants well suited to conversion.
“Coming out of the recession, there will continue to be a great opportunity to deliver really good food at a great value,” Kramp said. “That’s what made Sizzler a great brand, and that’s what will enable us to succeed as we resume franchising.”
Brad Ritter Communications, LLC
Brad Ritter, 866-284-2170