With Roland Dickey, Jr. at the helm, Dickey’s Barbecue is setting the fast casual industry on fire with its slow smoked barbecue and aggressive growth strategy. As CEO, Dickey has elevated the brand his grandfather started in 1941 to new heights and recently celebrated the opening of its 500th location. While they’re reveling in the milestone and impressive brand evolution, there is no sign of tapping the breaks on expansion and continued improvement.
Q: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has been in expansion mode for the last 3 years – how do you keep the momentum?
Since 2011, we’ve added about 100 new locations a year as part of a very deliberate growth strategy. We’ve been named one of the fastest growing fast casual chains in the country and it’s an honor to be noticed. In addition to focused growth, our entire team is driving quality on every level. This continued result has built the success of our brand. It starts with perfecting our recipes and guest experience in local stores and continues daily through franchise expansion across the country.
In today’s fast casual industry it’s not the largest companies that are successful but the fastest and most nimble. At Dickey’s, we’re proud to be moving forward steadily while consistently picking up speed. My commitment is to improve something about our brand every single day. We build new locations, wow new guests and find efficiencies that make our expansion authentic.
Q: What do you think is behind the new found popularity of barbecue and how do you compete with regional players?
As a 74-year old barbecue chain, it’s interesting to see how mainstream barbecue has become. People are passionate about barbecue unlike other food segments. I think consumers are tired of the burger and pizza craze we’ve had the past few years. Those are crowded categories. Slow smoked barbecue done right is really hard to beat. Slow-smoked hickory barbecue and southern comfort family style sides really appeals to most taste buds.
We source the best meats in the country and track them from the field to the table insuring a tender and juicy selection for our guests. We deliver slow smoked family friendly food that is served hot, fresh and affordable. At Dickey’s you get an authentic Texas barbecue experience with all of the efficiencies of a first-class national restaurant chain.
Q: How are you expanding in a segment reserved for regional players?
It’s exciting for us to see so many guests embrace our brand and our passion for barbecue. When we first started expanding, people told us that Texas Barbecue was just a regional favorite. We even changed up our barbecue sauce to try and capture the local flavor. We eventually changed back to our original sauce recipe in all markets because guests loved it! We haven’t experienced any challenges and we have locations in the Carolinas, Kansas City and Tennessee.
I think we appeal to all barbecue fans because our menu is consistent no matter which store you visit. Our locations in Georgia have the same quality, slow smoked barbecue as locations in California. We keep it fresh, simple and always delicious. Another big part is our menu, we offer eight proteins and twelve sides which appeals to all barbecue lovers. We also maintain strict standards to preserve the authenticity of our food and service style. We’ve moved away from limited time offers and focus on the basics done right. We aim to keep our menu pared down and authentic to our roots. I wouldn’t put anything on the menu my grandfather wouldn’t serve.
Q: As a 74-year-old brand, how do you stay fresh?
Well, we may be an established brand but we still have a few tricks up our sleeves. Our brand evolution is the product of a deliberate strategy to take the regional vibe of Texas Barbecue to a national audience. Brands like ours can’t bank on gaining market share just by having the fastest service, lowest price or most innovative menu because there will always be another brand nipping at our heels. Instead, we focus on the sticky characteristics that help our guests solve challenges while never swaying from our brand promise of delivering quality products with passion.
For Dickey’s Barbecue franchise opportunities call (866) 340-6188 or visit www.dickeysfranchising.com.