Wendy’s design strategy: mix them up to meet customers where they are

The Wendy’s NextGen store format is one of at least half a dozen store models available to franchisees around the world. (Photo provided)

While even Wendy’s management would likely admit that the brand can’t be everything for everyone, the Ohio-based QSR is hoping their design strategy can put it firmly on track to be the most things for customers. current and future.

That was one of the main takeaways Wednesday from a virtual press conference with Wendy’s Director of Development and President of International Abigail Pringle. In her view, Wendy’s remains steadfast in its brand-wide commitment to turning all efforts firmly around its food, although she said the company has renewed its efforts to use design as the primary driver. for that.

A Wendy’s shipping container store in Guatemala.(Provided)

In the wake of her decidedly optimistic results, released Wednesday morning, Wendy’s management clearly felt the wind in their backs and wanted to tell the business press how the brand’s design strategy would accelerate its success. Her plan to achieve those goals, Pringle said, would revolve around a growing variety of store models, as well as an expanded playing field that, for example, now extends Wendy’s re-entry into the market in June. British after an absence of 21 years.

Pringle’s take on how all of this momentum was set in motion began over a year ago when she said the pandemic restaurant landscape was being used to accelerate brand changes. that had already started. Chief among these changes was an industry and brand wide move to better serve the customer wherever they are.

For Wendy’s, Pringle said, this meant a system-wide change to merge physical stores with its digital presence.

“So COVID accelerated these changes that were already coming,” she told reporters. “We’re a restaurant business and it’s all about food, so… how do we put food at the heart of the experience. … We want to be where the people are and then figure out how we design for that. …

“Wendy’s historically hasn’t done that.… But now that’s what has unlocked our growth.”

Increase the brand’s presence digitally, physically

As examples of how the brand is transforming to accommodate this kind of “anytime, anywhere” mentality, she said that Wendy’s is much more focused on non-traditional places of business, including everything from “frosted carts” in town to military outlets. locations, to those inside zoos and school campuses.

“It’s going to be a big part of our growth this year – around 30%,” she said of the brand’s efforts in non-traditional venues.

A “frosted cart” from Wendy’s.(Provided)

Pringle also told reporters that a lot of effort was put into how the brand could merge its digital face with its physical spaces. Some of these initiatives focus on things that make life easier for employees at work, from improving the store’s ‘cleaning ability’ and easier day-to-day operations, to improving the footprint. store energy and inclusion of other store design elements. that improve the overall performance of the brand, such as pick-up areas. But she said those efforts were not about downsizing per se.

“We’re definitely not planning to reduce the workforce through these designs, but how to reallocate and reuse our workforce to improve the customer experience,” she said, using as an example the presence of kiosks in stores to allow employees more opportunities to engage and assist diners, rather than just processing their orders and payments.

In its earnings call on Wednesday morning, Wendy’s management said the brand intended to grow to 8,000 stores (up from 6,500) by 2025. Pringle said the design would help achieve that goal by taking action. as a “billboard” for the growth of the brand both nationally and internationally.

As she said, “Design is going to be an important catalyst towards growth.”

Wendy’s “delivery only” store, nicknamed a REEF neighborhood kitchen.(Provided)

Specifically, she said that an increased number of store design options are ultimately meeting the franchisee where they are through sites such as container stores, modular outlets, dark kitchens and even stores at the store. flying only currently deployed in the UK, India and elsewhere. She said so-called “dark kitchens” or delivery-only stores – which actually look a bit like food trucks – are also proving popular, especially in big cities where she says the QSR must be to meet the demand.

All of these franchise entry options, combined with incentive packages that encourage multi-unit transactions, ensure success for all parts of the Wendy’s brand going forward, Pringle said.

Or, as she explained when asked what excites her most about Wendy’s future, “Bringing food to different hotspots in a convenient, affordable way… and how. design can play a real role in brand expansion. “

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