Buxton provides Bar Louie with answers to its franchise growth questions.
Jill Szymanski, director of franchise and real estate at Bar Louie, explains how the organization uses Buxton’s analytics to assist with its franchising process. From identifying how many locations a franchise territory can support, to helping the franchisee select sites, and to profiling customers by daypart, Bar Louie trusts Buxton’s unbiased data to make strategic planning decisions.
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>>JILL SZYMANSKI: I’m Jill Szymanski. I’m the director of Franchise and Real Estate for Bar Louie.
>>JILL SZYMANSKI: Bar Louie resides in the restaurant space, but we actually function as a bar. We sell more than 50% in alcohol. We also really are more of a gathering spot for people. So if you go to a restaurant to eat, you usually stay 45 minutes to an hour. Our average guest stay is 2.15 hours. Our late-night business is over 20%. We serve our complete menu until we close, which could be 2 or 3 A.M. in the morning.
Bar Louie actually started in Chicago in 1990 and we’ve grown from one location to 127. We use Buxton quite a bit in just the analysis. We did the U.S. potential; we found that there could possibly be 400-450 locations in the next 10 years.
With franchising, I use it in the initial process to figure out where they could locate Bar Louie, as well as how many could be in a certain area. Then once they sign, we actually use it for the site selection process. So we understand what markets we should be looking in and then when we actually find specific sites. We’ll run site scores and compare those things against each other to try to help either negotiate the deal or secure the location because we feel that it’s going to be a good performer. In franchising, it’s extremely important because you won’t oversell an area. If anything, Buxton’s conservative in nature, which is a good thing in franchising because I’ve been with other concepts that have over sold markets. You know, it gets very expensive to buy someone out of a deal that they can’t do.
The one thing I find with Buxton is that they have access to databases a lot of other people don’t. Other companies I’ve found have tried to use survey data or have various people out there surveying and I think there’s a lot of noise and bias in that. And it’s nice to have data that is clean and unbiased. And it really makes you think when you get an answer that’s different from what you thought. You get a result from Buxton that has that, it really is doing its job. So knowing who our happy hour and our dinner and our late night, as well as our lunch, which isn’t as big for us, but definitely plays a part – the modeling of Buxton helps us to understand who those customers are. So we have a very affluent demographic, but then we also have a millennial segment, so we look for all those different attributes for a specific location.
I really feel like it is the most comprehensive solution out there. In addition to the analytics, it lets me hold all of my data in one place. It’s a great relationship. I’ve known some of these people now for 10 years, so it’s always been a great experience.