by Bob Gershberg, CEO & Managing Partner, Wray Executive Search
To succeed in our competitive environment, we must show an unwavering commitment to innovation. A recent McKinsey report found that 84% of corporate executives believe innovation is the key to achieving growth objectives. Having the right leadership in place with the capacity to drive an organization to embrace innovation is mission critical. Transformational leadership talent is the key to keeping pace with advancing technology and customers’ ever-changing demands.
Innovative companies choose leaders who display excellent strategic vision and communicate their vision for the future. These leaders need to remain steadfast in doing what is right for an organization and its customers. Creating a climate of reciprocal trust and high accessibility is essential. Inspiring and motivating through action will raise the tides of the entire organization. Identifying, assessing and recruiting these capabilities in the C-suite will drive innovation across all levels of an organization.
Featuring Phil Friedman, CEO at Salsarita's Fresh Mexican Grill
by Rebecca Patt, SVP Development, Wray Executive Search
This month, Rebecca chats with Phil Friedman, CEO of the 84-unit fast-casual Mexican chain Salsarita's Fresh Mexican Grill. Salsarita's is headquartered in Charlotte and located in 19 states. Phil is the former CEO of McAlister’s Deli.
Tell us about Salsarita’s?
Salsarita’s is a concept I acquired almost seven years ago. It’s a quick casual Mexican restaurant in the broad burrito category, meaning that you go down the line and create your own burritos. What’s unique about Salsarita’s is in a demographic sense, we serve more women than we do men because we also feature a great salad selection. We try to provide a lot of choice and variety. Salsa’s in our name. We always have six salsas available, and we always do seasonal salsas as well.
"A great restaurant doesn't distinguish itself by how few mistakes it makes, but by how well they handle those mistakes"
~ Danny Meyer
Industry Update from RFDC
by Kevin Stockslager, Vice President, Wray Executive Search
At the Restaurant Finance and Development Conference (RFDC) in Las Vegas two weeks ago, a main topic of conversation was the industry’s performance in 2018 and the outlook for 2019. After a slow start to the year, the restaurant industry has rebounded as of late. October marked the fifth straight month of positive same store sales growth (0.8%) and the industry has recorded positive sales growth in seven of eight months this year. Two-year sales also grew in October for the first time in six months. Of course, traffic continued to decline, down 2.2% in October. The continued trend of declining traffic does not seem to be reversing anytime in the near future. However, a 3% increase in guest check (the highest increase in three years), contributed to strong sales numbers and there is reason for optimism heading into the holiday season.
by John Gordon, Principal & Founder of Pacific Management Consulting Group
Sales Softness Still Vexes
For the economy we are in, it should be the best of times for restaurants. While eating away from home is gaining share (and has been on a 40-year trajectory of doing so), the problem is our companies and organizations are much narrower in focus: we get paid off of our profits and free cash flow and we don’t get paid off of overall industry results. One reason is that there are so many “restaurants,” the National Restaurant Association defines them as venues of some sort and counts U.S. venues at over 1.05 million. This doesn’t even count pop-up restaurants or delivery only (hidden) restaurants, the so-called shadow supply.
For some time, Sysco, US Foods and PFG have reported that the sales of “independent” cases have risen via their supply chain deliveries. Of course, they like to report that, as those are akin to the mostly higher markup “street account” prices. But it leads to the supposition not only are chains cannibalizing one another (especially in the U.S.) but the vibrancy of new independent restaurants is cannibalizing chains as well. Newness and entertainment have always been part of the restaurant dynamic. Research over many years has shown independents are more valued for friendliness and menu authenticity, while chains are valued for convenience and standardization.