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How Red Robin is using operational efficiencies to drive up profit margins


Red Robin has made plenty of progress on its five-point “North Star” plan, put into place by CEO GJ Hart late last year to chart the company’s comeback. In Q1, for instance, the chain experienced 700 new sales records, while its guest satisfaction scores improved by 5 percentage points.

That said, the company is only in the second or third inning of this plan, according to CFO Todd Wilson, who spoke Monday at CL King’s 21st annual Best Ideas Conference.

The focal point of these changes is in the product. Red Robin is working to get back to that gourmet burger-feel, and the flattop grills, implemented in Q2, are facilitating progress in doing so. Wilson said the previous cooking system – a conveyor belt – is more representative of QSR than casual dining. In October, more menu changes will be made, including upgraded burger toppings – from the mayonnaise to the pickles to the bacon.

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