Point of View

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Zaxby’s Finds Success Pivoting to Packs

Zaxby’s family meal bundles continue to make a healthy contribution since the Athens, Ga.-based operator launched them in April in reaction to changes in consumption as a result of the pandemic.

The company attributes pack sales to a 22.5% increase in its check average between April 6 and May 24. The family package approach has shifted momentum for this fast-casual chicken-centric chain with more than 900 locations in 17 states.

JB HeadshotJoel Bulger, Chief Marketing Officer, Zaxby's, Athens, Ga. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. www.zaxbys.comQ: What role are Zaxby’s family packs playing in your business?

A: Prior to the craziness of COVID-19, we were primarily a lunch-based business. When the pandemic hit, the first thing we noticed was that even after going to a 100% drive-thru business, business wasn’t picking up. Our advisory council decided to launch our family pack within 10 days, which was early on compared with others. This increased our revenue by double digits overnight. It’s the combination of having the right food and getting back to our core products. We even shaved 20 seconds off our drive-thru wait times.

Q: What was unique about this approach?

A: Normally, we would have limited-time offers with new ingredients to keep people engaged with new products, but this was just the opposite. The goal was to get back to basics with our core products in a new format, and this is a different way of thinking for us.

Q: Were there equipment changes with this program?

A: Fortunately, because the packs are built off of our current offerings, we didn’t have to make any back-of-house changes like we would if we had altered our concept. The biggest change was in the outside messaging. We had to create and find new places for real estate [places for signage] outside because that’s all our customers would be seeing. As a result, we installed additional signage by our menu board and attached point-of-purchase signs to the drive-thru speaker that included information on our new offerings.

Q: How did you adjust production?

A: Production became easier with these bundles. Instead of creating six individual meals and getting each one perfect and customized, the family packs are simplified. We know what goes into them; we just put them into bigger containers. In many cases, we had staff with tablets taking orders while people were still in line. Suddenly, the kitchen was way ahead of schedule. Even though our drive-thru volume nearly doubled, this took pressure off of production because food could be staged better and faster. We’re able to get every sale through the drive-thru in less than four minutes.

Q: Will Zaxby’s maintain a family bundle as part of its offerings post pandemic?

A: It would be difficult for us to walk away from family packs, as these have been great for us. For many families, this is how they’ve been introduced to our brand. So, for the foreseeable future, we will keep these as an easy solution with quality food. We constantly reevaluate our menu to make sure every product is earning its piece of real estate. If it’s a fan favorite and easy to execute, like the packs, it’s hard to take them away. Right now, it’s about taking our core products and reconfiguring them to meet customers’ needs.