Wendy's - The Road to Autonomy

The Brand is the Experience

Roger Webb, Lifetime Student of the Restaurant Industry joins Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss why the brand is the experience.

The conversation begins with Roger sharing the story of how he first met Dave Thomas, Founder of Wendy’s. Later he shares his experience of when he first joined Wendy’s as the company opened its third restaurant.

Today there over 6,500 Wendy’s around the world and the brand is known and loved by millions of individuals. From the VP of Franchise to a Wendy’s franchisee, Roger had an incredible career with Wendy’s.

Roger was the first Wendy’s franchisee to join the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge in 2016. Before joining the challenge, Roger had a company-wide energy policy.

We had a very strict policy, never have a light out.

– Roger Webb

Never having a light out is part of the experience of going to a restaurant. It’s an experience that consumers look for and one that the restaurant industry has to deliver on each and every-time.

The experience is the thousands of little things that have to be executed perfectly every time.

– Roger Webb

Expanding upon the conversation of the little things that make an experience, Grayson and Roger go on to discuss brands and experiences and why they are crucial to the ultimate success of a restaurant.

Your brand is the experience.

– Roger Webb

With a great brand, the future is bright and scalable if you are innovative and ahead of trends. Taking a look at the future of the restaurant industry, Grayson and Roger discuss the design of restaurants. Will they have to change with the growth of delivery and eventually autonomous delivery via delivery bots such as Nuro.

With an increase in delivery services, comes the need for new innovative packaging. Roger shares his thoughts on packaging and what needs to be done to ensure the french fries that arrive at your house are warm and crispy.

From drones to autonomous vehicles to delivery cars, the packaging has to be developed for the operating environment. The packaging used in delivery will be different than the packaging used for food picked up at a drive-through.

The drive-through is a booming business for the restaurant industry today. Roger explains how the drive-through operates and what the keys to success are for successfully operating one.

The drive-throughs of today might not look like the drive-throughs of the future. Chipotle is pioneering their Chipotlanes concept throughout the United States to great success.

Chipotlanes are Chipotle’s most-profitable experience because of the higher check averages. This raises the question: Is this the future of the restaurant business? Grayson asks Roger and he goes onto say restaurants are always evolving.

While restaurants are always evolving they must never stop building their brand equity. This lesson can be traced back to Sam Bronfman, Founder of Distillers Corporation who was always focused on quality and the appearance of his brands.

Discounting can impact brand equity in a negative way. Roger explains why discounting is something that should be done with caution.

Brand equity is what you do every day, every minute, every hour, and that should be a part of everything that you do when you are building a brand.

– Roger Webb

Looking at the current trend of Cloud / Ghost Kitchens, Grayson asks Roger how these types of restaurant businesses can develop a brand. Without a brand, customers will be unsure whether to try a new concept that they might never have heard of before.

For Cloud / Ghost Kitchen concepts to be successful, they will have to have a brand that customers know, like and trust. A brand combined with a bespoke delivery service and pick-up service will thrive in resort communities.

Wrapping up the conversation, Roger discusses delivery fees and the economics of delivery services.

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Recorded on Thursday, January 14, 2021