Dan Pearson has been a Togo’s franchisee since 1977. For over 40 years, he has been serving fresh and meaty sandwiches to a loyal following. As a seasoned owner, he has some invaluable insight as to what works and what doesn’t when it comes to operating a restaurant.
Togo’s understands that one of the brand’s most valuable assets is their franchisees. Constantly looking for ways to improve guest and franchisee experiences, they aptly decided to tap into the wealth of knowledge within their network. One of Pearson’s three locations was recently selected as a test store for new menu changes before they officially rolled out system-wide this June.
The new menu was part of a wide arching brand enhancement strategy initiated by the company’s dynamic new leadership. Togo’s, being known for it’s big, meaty sandwiches, wanted to find improved ways give guests the ultimate sandwich experience they have come to expect from the eatery.
Increasing protein portions in many of their sandwiches, changing the way the sandwich is constructed to enhance taste, and elevating customer in-store experience with revamped menu boards all played into this strategy. But first they wanted to ensure that these changes were viable for the franchisees and their operational efficiency. This is where Pearson’s store comes in.
Pearson comments, “Changes were made to the weighing procedures and slicing. The changes took a bit more time upfront, but put us in a much better position when building the sandwiches.”
Training employees also became more streamlined with the procedure changes. Notes Pearson “These changes in procedure were more efficient and make it easier to train our employees and results in less mistakes. There were too many one-offs before, and it became a training issue. This new approach is more simplified.”
Improvements were also made to the construction of the sandwich, resulting in a better taste and a better looking sandwich. The meat is now brought to the front of the flavor profile. Pearson says, ”This is one of the biggest changes that has been made to the brand in many years. Increasing portion sizes and putting the meat on top of the produce makes for a more robust sandwich. Guests immediately noticed.”
The test period ran from April to June of this year. Even in just those short few months Pearson saw an uptick in sales and in meat consumption, in particular the amount of turkey sold. Now that the new menu has been implemented in all locations, he expects to see even greater increases with the advertising accompanying the roll out.
Another change guests immediately noticed in-restaurant were the new, vibrant menu boards. Togo’s transitioned from a black menu board with less prominent graphics to a white menu board with popping graphics. The visuals are so eye-catching Pearson has even noticed more guests putting sauerkraut and cranberries on their sandwiches, toppings which photographed particularly well. He also credits the rise in the sales of the Reuben sandwich to the new graphic displays.
“People eat with their eyes. And the graphics on the new menu board are very appetizing, so people are getting the sandwiches just how they see them now.”
Pearson enjoyed the experience of being the new menu’s test location. “It really was a collaboration between the corporate office and franchisees. It’s one thing to come up with the plan, but it is another thing about how it can be applied. Corporate was really receptive to our input from an operational side and together we refined the program. I believe we have it as closed to dialed in as possible.”
Togo’s takes close consideration of how changes affect their franchisees and work in tandem with them to find the best way to implement improvements. This demonstrates the strong ongoing support systems that franchisees receive within the Togo’s network.
Working together to deliver the ultimate sandwich experience to the guests is one of the reasons that Togo’s is soaring and Togo’s is positioned to lead the pack.