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Teriyaki Madness’ growth isn’t mad – it’s smart

CEO Michael Haith explains how the brand is preparing for immense growth based on food type and restaurant segment

Teriyaki Madness has signed 51 new franchise deals in 2021, representing nearly 50% growth. At 105 units and almost seven years into new management, the restaurant chain feels it’s the right time to expand.

“Most of our growth is coming from our current franchisees, from their same-store sales, which this year are up 22% [year-over-year],” CEO Michael Haith told Nation’s Restaurant News. “Our last two quarters last year were up 18% so the sales in the shops are huge, and because of that our franchisees are growing super aggressively into new units.”

The Denver-based fast-casual brand signed 34 new franchise agreements in 2020, despite the pandemic, but many of these new franchises are coming from current operators in the system.

“We have 10,000 inquiries a year, we get 1,000 applications, and we accept approximately 40 or 50 franchisees into the system,” said Haith.

Being picky with culture is one thing Haith thinks makes the Asian chicken brand stand out amongst competitors. Another is the accessibility of the brand when it comes to customers.

“We’re very protective of our brand and our culture, and we build the community very intensely,” said Haith.

It’s why the brand grew at a slower pace until now. With all the stars aligned, Haith feels that six and a half years after buying the concept, it’s time for rapid expansion.

Teriyaki Madness is a company that benefitted from the pandemic and post-pandemic consumer mindset.

“Someone really wants to come into our system because we really check a lot of boxes,” said Haith. “We are Asian, which has one of the fastest growth stories… we’re chicken, which is the second…and we’re healthy.”

Those qualities helped the brand see positive same-store sales in 2020 and so far in 2021, building on an already impressive performance.

Teriyaki Madness is not just here to rest on its laurels and grow according to consumer trends; it’s also trying to meet the consumer in the future and predict where technology and habits will be in the next few years.

Concerning the future, Haith quoted Wayne Gretsky, saying, “I’m not skating to where the puck is getting to but where the puck is going to be.”

Teriyaki Madness’ future could could involve things like drone delivery.

“[Growing is about] how can you create convenience for the customer…Maybe it’s drone delivery. How can we get them what they ordered faster, cheaper, better, hotter?” said Haith. “That's pretty much what we talk about every day.”

The chain’s tech stack was in place before COVID, helping Teriyaki Madness grow sales – and the chain isn’t stopping.

In summer of 2021, Teriyaki had its first non-U.S. opening with two stores in Canada

TAGS: Operations
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