Richard Snead appeared on the cover of Chain Leader in July 2002, about four months into his tenure as president of Dallas-based Carlson Restaurants Worldwide. He said his top goal was to refresh the TGI Friday’s brand through its operations, people practices, marketing, restaurant design and menu. Carlson embarked on a three-year initiative it dubbed 1-40-05: to be No. 1 by its 40th birthday in 2005. Pleased with the success of the program but unable to rest on his laurels, Snead tells Chain Leader what’s next for the legendary brand.
How do you keep 1-40-05 alive? Or better yet, how do you move that forward?
We’re now 41 years old, and it’s ’06, and we have regained in our measurements a place of category leadership, but now what we want to do is, we want to extend that leadership.
This isn’t about winning a trophy, and our 40th birthday, March 2005, and putting that on the mantle and then going, “Whew, man, that was something. What a great ride, I’m glad that’s over.”
This last year it transitioned into my next three years, where I said, “good to great.” And that, “you know what, we’re a good company.” And everybody kind of looked at me, and I said, “That’s what I said.”
What I’ve recognized in our progress to 1-40-05, in our best-in-history performance, is that we’re only warming up and that we can be a great brand, a brand with unparalleled employee satisfaction, a brand with unparalleled guest satisfaction. We never had the opportunity with a facility that looked like it was 50 years old, with an advertising campaign that wasn’t competitive, with a menu that wasn’t relevant, with retention that was worse than average.
We are focusing our attention on great people, great place to work, unparalleled excellence in the guest experience. We set specific objectives in guest satisfaction. You can’t have a great place to eat if you don’t have great place to work. So if you’re not creating a great place to work, you’re never going to hit that score in terms of how we’re measuring overall guest satisfaction.
How are you measuring guest satisfaction?
We do it through guest surveys. We get guests in the store, we get guests when they leave, we do some interviews at home right after they’ve left the restaurant, within 24 hours after they’ve been there. And we measure once a month, and it’s down to every store. We rank them, we publish them, we have goals for them, and they are reviewed. Matter of fact, I review them once a month.
And then we recognize the top performers. We’re trying to make it a positive recognition, but by the same token, those people that are in the bottom 20 percent, we really know where to spend our time to help them.
Will you grow in existing markets or new markets?
A combination of the two. We’ve not penetrated some markets. Some of it was, our box economics had us so that we were building a very small amount of company stores—seven, 10 stores a year. We were being highly selective. We now have the ability to go into smaller markets than we ever did before. And because we’ve accelerated our investment in new store development, we’re going back in to penetrate markets we didn’t before.
Where’s the company going to be in three years?
I want the company to have average unit volume over $4 million. I want us to have over 1,000 restaurants. I want us to have a great-place-to-work score in the 90th percentile. And I want us to be perceived by the guests as having the highest overall guest satisfaction in the category.
That 1,000 restaurants means we can have 30 percent, 35 percent growth in new stores, which is certainly more dramatic than we’ve had in years past. We’ll make that, too. We’re well on our way.
Download the complete transcript of the Richard Snead interview