Bennigan's--rebirth of a brand growth challenges.

Author:Mangiamele, Paul

REBIRTH, REBRANDING, RESURGENCE, RENAISSANCE or whatever you call it, brands strong enough to make it to mid-life inevitably face a time when it's imperative to also revolutionize. Brand drift happens to many systems, but smart brands survive and come back stronger when they seize the opportunity to become legendary.

This is the situation Bennigan's faced when I joined as president and CEO in May 2011. Thirty-six years ago, many talented franchisees and executives, including founder and company icon Norman Brinker, had built a brand with great integrity. It was my privilege to join the team at a time ripe for a turnaround, with a public nostalgic for the high-energy experience they loved in the 1980s. We dove into a comprehensive analysis of everything that makes the company tick: menu, operations, customer service, supply chain and marketing. Through knowing where we were, we gained an understanding of how to get where we wanted to be. A clear mission was formed: create a legendary brand experience for every guest, every meal, every day.

When your team has a rallying cry to get behind, they can all live that mission. Our team has so much passion for the brand that they "bleed green." Our restaurants go above and beyond to deliver friendly Irish hospitality, 25/8. When you have mission buy-in from everyone at every level, you have created business athletes. World-class champions live it with their entire hearts, minds and bodies. For us to win, our team members must do the same.

From our 360[degrees] Business Discipline Review, we introduced menu optimization and increased operational standards that rekindled the fire of our great brand. Our new prototype increased sales at those restaurants by significant double digits. Our franchisees began making their remodeling plans, while new restaurants opened in Texas and Arkansas, El Salvador and South Korea. As we looked to 2013, same-store sales continue to increase. Domestic and international growth is exploding with more than 20 restaurants in the development, permitting or construction phases to join our 34 domestic and 48 international locations in bleeding green.

We are on the cutting edge of shaping the new casual dining paradigm, and it is imperative that we continue innovating. Our efforts are focused on a toolbox that gives our franchisees many adaptable ideas to fit any real...

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