Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen has seen its restaurant sales and its popularity with customers soar in recent years, which has put the company in the driver’s seat when it comes to attracting franchisees to help grow the brand.
As the company navigates the increased demand for owning a piece of Popeyes’ success, Jourdan Daleo, head of business development and franchising at the chain, has both hands on the wheel.
“We've seen this demand increase a lot since we launched our chicken sandwich in 2019, and the momentum will continue into 2022,” she said, noting that this is also the brand’s 50th anniversary, which will provide even more excitement around the concept in the year ahead.
The company, a division of Restaurant Brands International, is focused on finding the right operating partners to grow the brand for the long term, Daleo said. Securing partnerships with operators that have the resources to grow and the commitment to support the brand will be key to Popeyes’ sustained success, she said.
“We've really started focusing our efforts on bringing highly motivated, dedicated franchisees into our system who are excited about the Popeyes brand and looking to provide an exceptional guest experience in their restaurants,” said Daleo.
The chain is securing a pipeline to open hundreds of restaurants in the coming years and is on pace for historic development, she said.
At the same time, Popeyes is seeking to support existing operators by simplifying operations and addressing other challenges.
“While you should see a fantastic year for growth and development, we're also in it for the long game when it comes to ensuring a positive guest experience,” said Daleo.
In 2021, Popeyes updated its restaurant image and added multiple options to its buildings portfolio, including offering three freestanding options instead of one, with higher-capacity kitchens, double drive-thru lanes and resized dining areas.
The company also made investments in the digital aspect of its operations, including enhancing the experience for the digital customer and testing new innovations around ghost kitchens and pick-up only formats. The results are encouraging, Daleo said, with low capital expenditures and high sales volumes.
“Convenience is the most significant barrier to visitation for Popeyes, and in 2021, we’ve taken an important step to close this gap,” she said. “We're really just getting started and have so much room to grow. With the right partners, I'd really say the opportunities are endless.”
Daleo began her career in investment banking at JP Morgan in natural resources and said the “boot camp” style of work prepared her for all her future roles, including at Popeyes. Her background has provided her with the experience needed for the kinds of deal-making she does with Popeyes’ franchise partners.
The accessibility of franchising as an avenue to build a business is one of the things that attracted her to the restaurant industry, Daleo said.
“And beyond all of that, it's exciting,” she said. “It's certainly never stagnant, especially today.”