Hooters begins brand overhaul

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Looking to differentiate the Hooters concept at a time when other “breastaurant” chains are expanding, the new leadership team at the Atlanta-based chain launched a brand refresh this week that seeks to upgrade its service, menu and marketing.

Called “Hooters 2.0,” the brand augmentation kicked off with a new ad campaign sporting a new tagline, “Feed the Dream,” and positioning Hooters as a place to celebrate any day or occasion.

Hooters will remodel between 20 and 25 restaurants per year of its more than 430 restaurants over the next few years, and any new builds will take the form of a more contemporary prototype, officials said.

“People want any reason to engage or re-engage with the brand,” said chief executive Terry Marks, who came aboard with his executive team in late 2011. “It’s highly thought of, and our unaided awareness is among the best. But the food had not kept pace over time. We had real opportunities with the food and the Hooters Girls’ hospitality.”

Service initiatives take flight

Hooters’ changes to its service and hospitality systems started at the corporate level, “where we went all the way back to sharpening our interviewing and hiring processes, as well as how we handle orientations with the Hooters Girls,” Marks said.

The chain will move toward a team service model, where servers think less about handling only their tables in designated sections, and more about pitching in everywhere on the floor where they could attend to a guest.

“It’s not very difficult to train, but change is change,” Marks said. “Now the idea is to take care of every table and every guest. The guest doesn’t understand why they’re not getting any attention when a server is right there and could help out.

“Once we started training this way, our guest satisfaction metrics started to jump,” he said. “It’s the perfect example of something that wasn’t a hard fix, but it was a philosophical fix.”

Chief operating officer Sam Rothschild said improving the service of Hooters Girls would defend the kind of unique guest experience Hooters can claim against competitors, even concepts who recruit similar servers, like Twin Peaks and The Tilted Kilt. The brand also had to upgrade its audio-visual packages to keep pace with consumers’ expectations of a sports game-day destination.

But Marks stressed that the news Hooters would be more than a sports bar.

“We’re more than a sports bar, but we should be able to compete head to head with anybody on the game-day occasion,” he said.

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