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Wayback Burgers: How doing one thing well brought success

Wayback Burgers: How doing one thing well brought success

Wayback Burgers – a fast-casual franchise concept specializing in burgers and shakes – is expanding its international franchise operations

Some people stare at a menu and act as if they’re choosing their last meal. Which is understandable. Some restaurants serve a little bit of everything, and it all looks so good. How can anyone make up their mind? Investing in a franchise can feel the same way. There are so many. How can anyone know what to choose?

That’s why, at Wayback Burgers, there has been a guiding philosophy in the kitchen from the moment the restaurant was founded in 1991. Don’t be all things to all people. Specialize in one thing that virtually everyone enjoys and agrees upon: the burger experience. Do that, and the public and business owners and investors will come.

The concept has always been that when you sit down for a Wayback Burgers meal, you should feel as if you’re going way back. Wayback Burgers captures that era when food didn’t taste like it was mass produced. The burgers were thick and juicy, the fries delicious and the milkshakes hand-dipped. There’s an old-fashioned flavor that will never go out of style that Wayback Burgers provides.

That isn’t hyperbole served with a side of hubris. The Wayback Burgers franchise has seen incredible growth over the last decade. In 2008, when John Eucalitto, CEO, and Bill Chemero, executive vice president, joined the company, there were 10 Wayback Burgers in the United States. Now there are 166 locations across the globe, in countries as diverse as Pakistan and the Netherlands, and 515 commitments to add more brick and mortar establishments.

How has the company done it? Chemero shares some of the company’s secrets

It starts with the people. You thought we were going to say that it starts with the food, didn’t you? Well, maybe we should have. No brand attracts repeat customers or word-of-mouth referrals with a substandard product. It also has helped Wayback Burgers’ popularity around the world that the hamburger is beloved in America, and internationally, the burger is seen as an iconic, delectable American treat. That’s surely helped fuel Wayback Burgers growth.

But Chemero says that the company wouldn’t be anywhere if it wasn’t for the people with whom they choose to partner. For instance, outside of the United States, instead of selling to individual franchisees, the company sells to master franchisees who then look for single store and multi-store franchisees in each country. The master franchisee works with new franchisees to build restaurants in their territory, which means that ambitious master franchisees have a lot of bandwidth to create their own mini-Wayback Burger empires. Because of that power and responsibility, Chemero says that the company has implemented a very thorough process that helps ensure each master franchisee is positioned to thrive as an international brand ambassador.

Listen to your guests, your team members, and your franchisees. Everybody says that; not everybody does that. “You know you’re a success when you see the same faces coming into your restaurant,” Chemero says, of the guests. “We often have repeat guests showing up two to three times a week. They’re telling us how great the food is. They like the ambience and the customer service.”

But Chemero says that it’s just as important for corporate to listen to the people who really make the business work – its master franchisees, single and multi-unit franchisees and the team members that work in our restaurants. Wayback Burgers’ success has always been a group effort and always will be.

A competitive price matters. “It’s all about the product, the service and your price points,” Chemero says. He says that because the total investment is relatively low for a fast-casual restaurant, Wayback Burgers can generally charge a buck or two less than its competitors. “If you’re getting really good food for a buck or two less than what you’d get elsewhere, you’re going to go there,” Chemero says.

The simple menu makes the business more efficient. It isn’t only that inventory management is simpler with a mostly burger menu, the items on the menu are simple to prepare. “We have a lot of minimum-wage team members,” Chemero says. “High school students, college kids. Senior citizens. Our menu is easy to execute, and yet there’s a diverse menu.”

At the same time, Chemero says that the menu does have items other than burgers – as it must. “You always want to be thinking about the veto vote,” he explains. “You’ve got four guys in a car. Three of them want burgers, and the fourth says, ‘No, I’d like salad… or chicken…” Wayback Burgers doesn’t offer everything possible on a menu. There is no Wayback pizza. But it does have chicken sandwiches, fish, salads… It’s at least protected from the veto vote torpedoing group outings to Wayback Burgers.”

Training – and attention – is imperative. People who qualify to be a master franchisee are invited to the corporate office for an international discovery day to learn more about the master franchise opportunity. They will also be taken to a nearby Wayback Burgers for lunch, where they can enjoy the food but also be given a behind-the-scenes tour of the restaurant. Prospective master franchisees also have in-depth, personal time with the executive leadership and meet the entire Wayback Burgers corporate team. Those who become master franchisees receive intensive training and will work closely with the executive team to ensure their own restaurants, and their franchisees’ restaurants, are a success.

And in the end, that’s what makes choosing a franchise easy, or at least a little easier. You want to look at your menu of options and know that the product and service is strong but so are the relationships between master franchisees and Wayback corporate. Because in the restaurant franchise business, if corporate has your back, you can focus on filling customer’s stomachs!


Name of franchise: Wayback Burgers
Established: 1991
Number of franchised restaurants opened in the USA: 166
Number of countries/provinces sold international: 38
Investment range to open a restaurant in the USA: $350,000-$450,000 US
International master franchises fees: Determined by size of the country
Contact: 011-203-649-3392

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