WHEN CHUTE GERDEMAN, the Columbus,
Ohio-based strategic brand and design firm,
was tasked with the job of reinventing the
Checkers/Rally’s drive-through restaurant
chain, the project began with a comprehensive evaluation from the inside out. “We took
existing brand equity and blended it into the
new design,” says Lynn Rosenbaum, vice
president for retail environments at Chute
Gerdeman. “In the end, the brand equity
shines through.” The restaurant’s signature
colors, diner-esque exterior attributes and
architectural double canopy were retained
and an updated checkerboard palette of red,
white, and black was coupled with chrome
accents and neon. The end result is a streamlined version with a single drive-through lane
instead of the original double drive-through.
Eliminating the second drive-through lane
translates to a reconfigured footprint for
customer seating. Retaining the building’s
signature “wings” despite the lack of a
second drive-through provides visual cues
so customers know where to drive and where
to sit. The single point of sale also minimizes
chances for product tracking mix-ups as
orders are moved from kitchen to window.
The kitchen was overhauled for major efficiency gains, reducing both kitchen bottlenecks and wait time for food. Relocating
adjacencies also made a difference; for
example, placing the drinks station closer
to the drive-through window.
A company-owned location in Mobile, Ala.,
served as the model’s testing ground. The
new prototype restaurant was constructed
Checkers’ new prototype in Mobile, Ala., designed by Chute Gerdeman, demonstrated ROI
of a successful 48. 5 percent in its first year. The restaurant brought in nearly $750,000
in sales before redesign; the new prototype’s sales totaled more than $1.1 million.
adjacent to an existing Checkers in the same
location. The restaurant brought in nearly
$750,000 in sales before redesign, but the
new prototype’s sales were buoyed to more
than $1.1 million. “The return on investment
for year one, based on investment of $500,030
(not including royalties, the cost of real
estate, or site development costs) was
48. 5 percent,” says Jennifer Durham, vice
president of franchise development for
Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc.,
headquartered in Tampa, Fla.
“Our return on investment is calculated
using the earnings before interest, tax, depre-
ciation, and amortization (EBITDA) or cash flow
of the restaurant since opening, divided by the
total investment of $500,030,” notes Durham.
Franchisees would need to reduce EBITDA by
royalties per franchise unit. “If the sales and
operating and construction expenses were the
same, the resulting return on investment
would be 39. 5 percent,” she says.
customers to buy.
Any change in a store design or fixture
package, he says, tends to bring in customers for a short time, especially if it’s accompanied by an ad campaign. What matters
in the long term is making as large and
permanent an increase in sales as possible.
Presentations Plus specializes in shop-in-shops, so figuring out how to sell the most
product per square foot is what determines
ROI. Spizale is a believer in testing new displays against old.
Spizale’s clients are especially interested in how much product should be on
the floor, and generally want to amortize
their investments in three to five years.
They typically measure success by using
SKU numbers to analyze how many targeted products have sold. But this method,
although helpful, is only a way of measuring what results after the fact. If the retailer
has failed to test the program beforehand,
Spizale believes that it’s too late.
He cites the example of an electron-
ics company that rolled out an expensive,
attractive, and durable display developed
specifically for a big-box chain, only to
discover that customers didn’t use it. The
products were under glass, so customers
couldn’t test them out without the help of
store employees who were often busy or
nowhere to be found. Retrofitting the dis-
plays by eliminating the glass, adding cords
for product security, and including detailed
product information made the displays
work, but at an expense that he believes