Leading drive-thru franchise on pace for 65 new store openings in 2017 with 215 in the pipeline
Tampa, FL (RestaurantNews.com) On the heels of its recent Model 4.0 modular restaurant openings and its purchase by Oak Hill Capital in March 2017, Checkers & Rally’s continues to build momentum at a rapid pace. With key additions made to its development team, 65 franchisee and corporate store openings set to open this year, and increased efficiency of its construction process, the iconic brand is well on its way to reach its 1,200-unit goal by 2020.
One of the brand’s recent additions is Kristen McDonald, director of real estate, hired to bolster the brand’s company site selection process. With impressive and diverse experience supporting retailers including Walgreens, Chase Bank and most recently Fred’s, McDonald will leverage her expertise to further the progress of the 250 active locations in the pipeline. In addition to McDonald’s recent hire, the Checkers & Rally’s development team saw growth earlier this year with the addition of Bret Cunningham as director of design and construction.
“Our team has evolved to better support our growing restaurant base and Oak Hill has been supportive of the elements that we need to grow effectively, whether it is capital and new company restaurant construction or updates to company assets,” said SVP and Chief Development Officer Jennifer Durham. “As we take steps to build our development team with new key hires like Kristen and Bret, we are able to set our franchisee and company stores up for huge openings and continued success as we grow.”
With average unit volumes at a steady $1 million and plans to increase to $1.2 million by 2020, it’s no surprise that 86 percent of the chain’s current franchisees are looking to add another restaurant to their portfolio. Checkers’ same-store sales have grown system-wide for six consecutive years and its profitability is up 20 percent per year over the past seven. By 2020, in addition to the increased AUV and unit count, the brand expects 90 percent of restaurants to be remodeled to the newest image, the Model 4.0.
Checkers & Rally’s introduced its Model 4.0 design at the end of 2016, and the brand is on track to open more than ten stores by the end of 2017 using the new design. Created to provide a more streamlined, cost-effective and time-sensitive construction process for new buildouts, Checkers & Rally’s Model 4.0 allows franchisees to choose from three unique design plans when building their new freestanding restaurants: a traditional on-site build that has been value engineered, a new modular building that can be constructed off-site during the real estate approval process or a building that utilizes reclaimed shipping containers as the structural supports for the innovative new design.
“The Model 4.0 creates price certainty, ease of development and reduced development schedules for franchisees while empowering them to choose a format that fits their site,” said Durham. “Both existing and new franchisees have been thrilled with the new model, as they are projected to provide higher return on investment.”
To increase awareness for the Model 4.0 design within the Checkers & Rally’s system, the brand’s leadership team had planned to provide tours to its franchisees of the modular design during its annual convention in Hollywood, Florida in early September. The unanticipated impact of Hurricane Irma caused Checkers & Rally’s to cancel the convention to ensure the safety of the entire Checkers & Rally’s system.
“The recent hurricane that swept through our home state was devastating, but provided an opportunity to test the fortitude of Checkers & Rally’s culture,” said Durham. “The strong sense of community that we know makes Checkers & Rally’s successful was exemplified once again as we banded together to rebound from the effects of the storm. This intangible factor is essential as we continue to evolve as a brand.”
The company’s executive team has worked efficiently to set up the first ever Checkers & Rally’s Business Planning Meeting this November in lieu of the annual convention to connect with the 140 franchisees who will be pivotal for the brand’s continued growth in the coming years.
“Our franchisees are a tight-knit system of resilient and hardworking restaurant operators who are always a top priority for our executive team as we work toward consistent improvement of our franchise offering,” Durham said. “As we continue to innovate in order to remain a leader in the QSR industry, we are invested in the success of our existing franchisees as well as those who join the Checkers family in the exciting years to come.”
About Checkers & Rally’s Restaurants, Inc.
Based in Tampa, Fla., Checkers & Rally’s Restaurants, Inc., an iconic and innovative drive-thru restaurant chain known for its “Crazy Good Food,” exceptional value, and people-first attitude, operates and franchises both Checkers® and Rally’s® restaurants. With more than 850 restaurants and room to grow, Checkers & Rally’s is a proven brand with flexible building formats that is aggressively expanding across the country. Checkers & Rally’s is dedicated to being a place where franchisees and employees who work hard can create opportunity for themselves, their families, and their communities. In recent years, the brand has been awarded several of the industry’s most prestigious awards including: Top Food and Beverage Franchise by Franchise Business Review, Top 500 by Entrepreneur Magazine, 2016 and 2017 Best Franchise Deals, “Best Drive-Thru in America” by QSR Magazine, the “Hot! Again” award from Nation’s Restaurant News, and “#1 Most Craveable Fries” by Restaurant Business. For more information about franchise opportunities with Checkers & Rally’s, please visit www.checkersfranchising.com.
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