On learning from franchisees
“Throughout my career with A&W, two things that have really stood out for me are the variety of opportunities I have been afforded and the mentorship I have received along the way from all areas of our business. And many of my greatest mentors have been franchisees.
We have a highly experienced team of franchisees who are the heart and soul of A&W. In fact, there are many second-generation franchisees who have grown up in this business.
In recent years, as an executive, I have benefited from opportunities to meet face-to-face with groups of our franchisees. They participate directly in our business development and growth, with everything from testing new products in their restaurants to contributing ideas about recruiting, hiring and retaining staff, which in turn have informed our training materials and helped improve our restaurant employees’ experience. It is thanks to their hard work and vision that we recently opened our 900th restaurant and continue to grow coast-to-coast.”
On standing out in the market
“The taste of our burgers has set us apart. When people decide to eat out, this is a major priority—and to have great food, you have to start with great-tasting ingredients.
We introduced a food strategy in 2013 that started with new beef specifications, so as to ensure all our beef is raised without the use of hormones or steroids. Prior to us taking this step, you could scarcely find such meat outside of grocery stores and fine-dining establishments.
The response from our customers was tremendous. Since then, we have launched many other menu innovations. We are always looking for new ways to improve.
We recently committed $5 million to the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence (LFCE), comprising two new facilities near Claret, Sask., that are scheduled for completion this spring. The LFCE will address sustainable ways to produce nutritious beef while improving welfare for cattle.
Baby boomers were our focus as customers for a long time. Now, we are also building stronger connections with younger guests. Convenience influences a lot of their choices, so one way we are appealing to them is by bringing our restaurants closer to them, with our urban locations. These restaurants range from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, are located in high-traffic areas in major city centres, feature a modern appearance and are open 24-7.
We are a 100 per cent Canadian-owned and -operated company (Editor’s note: the company is separate from A&W in the U.S.) and this has allowed us to focus on our guests across Canada by investing in a strategy with long-term benefits. We have strong competitors on a global level, but while they may have more resources, they are less likely to be as focused on Canada.”