What does Jazzy Julie, Sassy Scotty, Fancy Nancy or Barbie-Q have to do with an entrepreneurship class?
Simple. They are just a sampling of flavors the Chicken Salad Chick – toured Wednesday morning by Dave Ketchen’s Growth Strategies for Emerging Companies class – offers its growing customer base. The class visited the business’ corporate headquarters on North Dean Road in Auburn and learned about the growth of the company, how it trains franchises, its future plans, and how franchises handle challenges.
Students not only learned about the company’s history and future plans, but also toured the site’s training kitchen and food processing area, where aspiring franchise owners learn to master the restaurant’s delicacies.
“By the end of the year, we estimate that we will order about 45,000 pounds of chicken per week,” Kelly Schenck, Director of Implementation at the Chicken Salad Chick, explained to the class.
“Chicken Salad Chick sits at the starting point of what I believe will be an incredible success story,” said Ketchen. “It’s easy to imagine in Chicken Salad Chick over time becoming synonymous with Auburn just as Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A are closely associated with Atlanta.”
Founded in 2008 by Kevin and Stacy Brown, of Auburn, the budding business has grown from a location on Opelika Road to franchising seven current venues (Auburn, Opelika, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Columbus, Ga., Tallahassee, Fla., and Valdosta, Ga.) and plans for multiple franchises to open across the Southeast by 2018, including several in the Charlotte, N.C., metropolitan area. Currently, the Chicken Salad Chick offers locations in Auburn, Opelika, Columbus, Ga., Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Tallahassee, Fla., and most recently, Valdosta, Ga.
Schenck said she expects franchises in Destin, Fla., Birmingham, Mobile, Greenville, S.C., and Dothan to open in the near future.
Why the explosive growth?
“Service has been the foundation for us,” Schenck explained. “We try to hire people that match our culture of service. We really stress that. We partner with people that understand our passion for service.”
The company’s Three P’s, as listed in a presentation, were …
Passion for what we do
People who care
Product that is superb
“Our customer service is what makes us what we are,” Schenck continued. “We strive in every location to make our chicken salad perfect for every single guest.”
The restaurant offers 16 different flavors of chicken salad, each with flashy names that customers can remember.
Schenck said the business’ success has created the demand for franchises. Fees for such are $40,000 per unit. Each unit is responsible for a marketing fee of up to 2 percent of each store’s gross revenue. They must also pay a 5 percent royalty fee of each store’s gross revenue. Total investment required to open a Chicken Salad Chick franchise is between $207,600 and $370,000.
“That’s very appealing to people,” Schenck said. “It’s not very expensive compared to some restaurant franchises. The return on investment has been very fast, but we can never promise a return on investment.”
Franchisees are trained for one week at the restaurant’s corporate facility in Auburn, in a classroom and mock kitchen setting, and for one week at the new franchise.
Why offer franchising?
“Kevin and Stacy have really wanted to help other people grow businesses,” Schenck said. “They saw franchising as a good way to share their success with others.”
But there’s one thing they won’t share – the chicken salad seasoning’s secret recipe.
“Nobody knows that except Kevin and Stacy,” Schenck said. “We manufacture that and ship in the spices to the franchisees.”
So you can enjoy Jazzy Jeff or Sassy Scotty whenever you wish, but you can’t duplicate it.