Behind The Krystal Company Iconic Series remodels

How a data-driven approach was recipe for success

Krystal Company burger chain’s revitalization is under way with a remodel program that is known as the Krystal Iconic Series. Redesigned stores are showing sales lifts of 70 to 80 percent and driving increased staffing investments of 66 percent on average. A makeover for a historic an iconic burger chain, remodels have been completed in Jackson, Miss., Tifton, Ga., Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Memphis and Chattanooga, Tenn. With a blend of modern and nostalgic, and a new, more abstract Krystal emblem, the remodels’ impact on the test Krystal outlets has been significant.

Most recently, a Krystal store in Lakeland, Fla. was remodeled, notes The Ledger. It’s just one of 47 restaurants in the state, which could be a big testing ground. In this March Q&A, Paul Macaluso, chief executive of the chain, expands on the exciting remodel program and Krystal Burger Iconic Series prototype design.

Paul Macaluso, Krystal CEO, interview

Restaurant C-Suite: The revitalization of the stores appears to have been a hit, according to the data. What aspects of marketing needed to be in place to ensure there was sufficient awareness and engagement post-remodel?

Paul Macaluso: We worked hard to get the word out on multiple fronts — it was a holistic approach that included POP (point-of-purchase) and onsite signage prior to the scrape and rebuild and throughout the construction process. We led up to the reopenings with targeted hyperlocal digital and paid social, and did a full-on PR blitz in each market, in advance of grand (re-) opening events. Another critical factor to our success was making sure our employees were relocated to nearby restaurants and that no jobs were lost during the process. We staffed up with seasoned team members and new ones to handle the sustained increase in business that resulted from the revitalization.

RCS: In what ways do you use data to successfully execute marketing campaigns?

PM: For Krystal, it’s about marketing that drives business results. We deploy a comprehensive digital strategy that incorporates paid social and partnerships with third-party vendors to track every single digital tactic deployed and the resulting real-time walk-in business. We’re very focused on managing acquisition costs. That being said, it all starts with a great creative. Our “Live A Little” mantra informs all marketing campaigns and touch points.

RCS: How have the Krystal Burger Iconic Series remodels addressed speed of service at the stores that were revamped?

PM: The new stores are built for speed. They’re smaller, faster—and square—like our iconic burgers. We’ve seen an across-the-board 10-percent improvement in processing time for drive-through orders, shaving off 20-30 seconds for customers. The kitchen layout has been reconfigured to create larger work zones as well as expanded windows to accommodate drive-thru traffic. The redesigned restaurants have two menu boards that funnel into a single lane and three POS devices, one for each menu board and one for processing payment at the window.

RCS: Tell us how you engage franchisees for remodel projects at a time when other QSRs have garnered skepticism?

PM: Our initial redesigns are company stores. Our strategy was to provide proof-of-concept for key franchisees, who are now signing up for owner-financed scrape and rebuilds, with some incentives.

This article was originally published in the spring issue of Restaurant C-Suite Magazine, part of the Eatery Pulse Network magazine portfolio.

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