From menu development to local and regional advertising, Captain D’s stands behind franchise operations in every way
When a Captain D’s restaurant opens, it doesn’t come as a surprise to very many people nearby. That’s because the corporate marketing team has been partnering with the franchise owner for several months, doing everything from providing graphic design resources for ads to grand-opening banners and event planners and other support.
What’s more, Captain D’s research teams also have been working with new franchisees, making sure owners and management team know about the incredible amount of research that goes into every item on the menu, and all the other talking points that help sell a great story to local media.
Fast-casual dining is a crowded field. Captain D’s stands out for a reason.
Brand development is ongoing
Captain D’s corporate owns half of the chain’s total stores. What does this mean for franchise owners? It means they have a partner who has a strong and ongoing interest in the bottom line. Where other franchises see only an interest in their owners’ top-line sales, which drive royalty payments, Captain D’s wants to see success all the way through the financials. That means a steady stream of innovative marketing — and ours wins awards.
“How we are doing it? By starting with the guest,” says CEO Phil Greifeld. “Everything we do is focused on making the guest experience better. From the quality of the food to new items, we showcase everything in an award-winning TV ad campaign that has been running for three years. It reminds people about what they love about our brand and about seafood in general. It’s a broadly appealing campaign, and it benefits all our locations.”
The numbers bear Phil out. Research shows that a guest may come in for batter-dipped fish, see our new grilled menu, and return within days to try a new item. Our highly publicized, reimagined kid’s meal has seen growth of 60 percent since launch. A lower price point for full-meal deals has not only brought in more business, but it has also helped raise the average check total every year for four years.
“We have been able to add higher-priced items, such as the grilled menu, because we provide compelling offerings that our guests are willing to pay more for,” Phil says. “And because we have tested all these items at corporate stores, when they are marketed nationwide and brought out to the franchise locations, those owners know that they have been thoroughly vetted, and that our guests want them.”
Grand openings set the stage for partnership
Nowhere is the team effort behind marketing and promotion more obvious than in the strategies that surround a Captain D’s grand opening.
“We make sure we get noticed through local TV stations, radio, and print media, and we also do several forms of advertising,” Phil says. “We use billboards and direct mail, all to gear up for grand-opening festivities. We’ve upgraded our food photography, highlighting the variety we offer, so the pieces we advertise with are extremely attractive.”
The corporate marketing team also works with local franchise owners to find out about community partnerships, and then works to maximize those. In the Fall of 2015, we raised over $134,000 for Share Our Strength – No Kid Hungry, an initiative that raises money to feed children in America.
“We have a very data-based, guest-centered approach,” Phil says. “We put all of our marketing efforts through tests. We put ads in front of consumer groups and look at everything we want that campaign to deliver. By the time a poster or television ad goes out in a new market, we know that it is entertaining, attention-grabbing, and communicating our food’s quality and value.”
The proof, once again, is in the numbers: we’re in our sixth year of same-store sales growth, and our AUV continues to climb year over year. Captain D’s occupies a unique niche in the fast-casual experience, and our marketing continues to highlight the difference, and value, we offer our guests.