3 reasons Arby's business is on fire

Arby's fast food Arby’sArby’s roast beef and cheddar sandwich and curly fries.

Arby’s is outperforming the rest of the fast food industry.

The chain, which is known for its slow-cooked meats and curly fries, had a 5.7% sales increase in 2014, compared with growth of 0.8% across the industry. The company has reported same-store sales growth for 17 quarters.

Arby’s success comes at a time when traditional fast food giants like McDonald’s are struggling to compete with fast-casual brands like Chipotle and Five Guys.

“It’s been a process,” Arby’s CEO Paul Brown told Business Insider. “We stepped back and made a conscious decision to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace.”

Here’s how Arby’s is beating the rest of the industry.

Ideal positioning

Arby’s has the food quality of fast-casual restaurants, but the price point and convenience of fast food, Brown said.

This has allowed the brand, which has nearly 3,000 stores, to reach fans of both categories.

The brand slow cooks and hand slices its roast beef for sandwiches every day. Arby’s also offers a variety of deli sandwiches.

“We’re in a unique position because consumers perceive our food as high-quality, but we are routinely priced below fast-casual competitors,” Brown said. “This gives us an expanded base of customers.”

Menu strategy

In two years, Arby’s has added just one new item to its menu — the beef brisket, Brown said.

The company keeps things exciting by retooling the meats, cheeses, and breads it already has into new combinations.

This helps prevent food waste and protects workers from becoming overwhelmed.

Focusing on the core product has benefitted Arby’s at a time when McDonald’s overloaded menu is said to be hurting business.

While Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s all peddle burgers and chicken nuggets, Arby’s roast beef sandwiches and curly fries are unique to the brand.

“You can’t get our sandwiches anywhere else,” Brown said. “This puts us ahead of the competition.”

Customer service

Arby’s invested in extensive customer service training, Brown said.

The company started referring to customers as “guests.” Instead of “units,” locations were called “restaurants.”

General managers also met with workers and had them write down their goals for the future.

Taking an interest in workers’ lives has led to better retention, Brown said.

He also believes that the improvement in customer service helped drive sales.

Straightforward marketing

At a time when meats like bacon and brisket are popular, it isn’t difficult for Arby’s to sell its products.

“From a marketing standpoint, it’s all about the food,” Brown said.

The company also had a viral media hit this year, when people began ordering the $US10 “Meat Mountain” from the secret menu.

The $US10 sandwich had 2 chicken tenders, 1.5 oz. of roast turkey, 1.5 oz. of ham, 1 slice of Swiss cheese, 1.5 oz. of corned beef, 1.5 oz. brisket, 1.5 oz. of Angus steak, 1 slice of cheddar cheese, 1.5 oz. roast beef, and 3 half-strips of bacon, wrote Sarah Halzack at The Washington Post.

The Meat Mountain is a by-product of marketing, a spokesperson told Washington Post.

After the company created a poster with every type of meat it offers, customers started asking workers to make it.

Embracing the core product with the “we’ve got the meats” slogan helped the company gain favour with customers.

“We are unapologetic and don’t try to be something we’re not,” he said.

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