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BurgerFi CEO Bachmann has a lot of work ahead of him to implement changes under consistent leadership.

How BurgerFi CEO Carl Bachmann is learning from the mistakes of the brand’s past

From cannibalization to fast leadership turnover rates, the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based brand’s past mistakes are helping to shape its future

With less than one year of chief executive leadership under his belt, BurgerFi CEO Carl Bachmann is learning from the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based burger chain’s past mistakes, he said during a presentation at the ICR conference on Tuesday in Orlando. Bachmann believes in the strength of both the BurgerFi brand and its sister brand Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, but said that he believes brand cannibalization — particularly an oversaturation of the Florida market — and high turnover rate for senior leadership had stifled the company in the past.

“When brands lose their way, in my opinion it’s never one decision—it’s many decisions over the years,” Bachmann said. “They make bad decisions over time to save some money here and there….so I think over time, some of the high-quality things the founders stood for have been lost in the shuffle.”

Two of the major goals for Bachmann and his leadership team are to improve the taste quality of the brands’ products by putting new brand standards in place and to expand menu innovation opportunities.

“If you don't innovate, you die,” he said. “And I think that's a problem for our industry. We have to continue to innovate with new reasons to come and try a free trial of our food, especially where we have such a white space in our both of our brands.”

For example, Bachmann said that he was shocked to learn that Anthony’s as an Italian brand did not have pasta on the menu, so recently they introduced a new pasta program to expand the breadth of the Anthony’s menu beyond pizza and wings.

In addition to menu innovation, Anthony’s in particular needs to undergo some technology innovation as well. During the ICR presentation, CFO Chris Jones said that Anthony’s POS system is 25 years old and a “digital abacus” that will be replaced in the next couple of months.

With such a physical whitespace, Bachmann said that both brands could definitely work on expanding to new markets, particularly BurgerFi, which is concentrated in South Florida and has been undergoing a bit of a cannibalization problem.

“There's a big opportunity for us to grow the brand North and West,” Bachmann said. “We see some underperforming stores because of cannibalization. I think from a financial standpoint, we're going to make a couple of changes. We’ll continue to close one or two more restaurants to actually get lift from other nearby restaurants. Historically, that didn’t happen, but the advent of digital has changed the game. The opportunity for us to have less of a concentration in one market will lift all ships.”

The growth strategy moving forward will be to focus on non-traditional real estate including movie theaters, airports, casinos, and to slowly grow out of the BurgerFi base in South Florida.

To cap off the ICR session, both Bachmann and Jones emphasized the importance of consistent leadership. BurgerFi underwent six executive leadership changes in five years, and Bachmann said that he signed a five-year contract so the BurgerFi company will undergo and model turnover stability starting at the top.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

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