With dining rooms forced to close for several weeks across the nation and guests remaining hesitant throughout the reopening process, it’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the restaurant industry. The real wonder is how some restaurants continued to grow amid a global crisis.
Here’s how Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise not only endured the pandemic, but also found ways to expand its footprint throughout the nation.
The world’s largest barbecue pit franchise was quick to respond when COVID-19 struck. Dickey’s provided relief for its franchisees during the crisis by offering an extensive COVID-19 response program and cutting, not abating, royalties by 50%. The brand also attracted potential franchisees with a 90-day signing incentive package for those who signed up for a new store for the first time throughout the entire month of April.
“Investing in a franchise during the pandemic’s economic decline was obviously a big step,” said Roland Dickey Jr., grandson to the founder of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and CEO of Dickey’s Capital Group. “So, we created an incentive package that would aid first-time franchisees in partnering with us amidst a challenging time. It certainly paid off.”
On top of supporting its existing franchisees, the Texas-style barbecue brand added the 100th new store to the development pipeline with the execution of a new development agreement in April and continued to expand their franchise family with the addition of new agreements throughout May and June. Dickey’s franchise is now expanding to new territories all over the country, including Detroit, Michigan; Gainesville, Florida; Oahu, Hawaii; Playa Del Rey, California; South Bend, Indiana; Worcester, Massachusetts; and Williamsburg, Virginia.
Also in April, Dickey’s unveiled an upgraded e-commerce site. The barbecue chain’s digital sales skyrocketed with a 104.6% increase since the launch. Dickey’s also saw online traffic soar 122% compared to the previous period and reported its highest day in digital sales ever recorded.
In addition to its updated e-commerce site, the family-owned franchise brand relaunched its franchisee intranet portal, Smoke Pit, and overhauled its reporting system, SmokeStack. With the new systems in place, Dickey’s Owner/Operators now have improved access to hundreds of support resources directly on their mobile devices.
“We used the time when our dining rooms were closed to streamline our online processes for our guests and franchisees,” Dickey said. “Our updated e-commerce site proved to be a huge success driving incredible sales and traffic numbers. Plus, with our latest intranet portal updates, our franchisees are working with highly efficient digital resources that support their success. Even during a pandemic, we were able to excel to new heights.”
Dickey’s digital investments coupled with their strategic approach to building sales positioned the family owned franchise to achieve same store sales positive growth throughout the pandemic.