Strong Sales + Royalty Discount = Great Time to Join A&W

By Dave Crowley, Director of Franchise Recruitment

Side photo of A&W Restaurant drive-thru and exterior with cars in drive-thru. Team Member holding a paper A&W bag is walking out to a truck at front of the restaurant.

We’re pretty darn happy at A&W these days, despite all the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. It took a huge effort by our franchisees, however, our May sales topped last year’s by a whole lot.

While the future of many restaurant brands is in question, it’s very rewarding to see our franchise partners succeed. We’re equally pleased to be hearing from so many prospective franchisees.

To help them get started, we’re reducing royalties and initial fees. You can read more about both our sales and incentives here.

We’ve got great (social media) game

A recent study gives A&W high marks for social media engagement compared to other fast food franchises

Hands using a smartphone against a lit-up city street out of focus in the background.

If you want a lot of business, you need a lot of buzz.

Luckily, generating buzz happens to be one of the things we do well. A&W’s social media game is strong, and when you combine that with our restaurants’ hip nostalgia, you have a referral network that can drive serious brand engagement.

As QSR Magazine reported recently, “The same technology spreading this word-of-mouth culture also enables brands and marketers to leverage consumer insights to improve, course correct, and discover competitive differentiators that weren’t so clear before. And all without pencils and comment cards.”

How A&W stacks up against other fast food franchises

According to the analytics platform Netbase, A&W ranked No. 1 in net sentiment for the quick service category at 84%, with a passion intensity score of 87%, landing us at No. 2. This means that not only do fans love us, they really REALLY love us. Combining the two scores, we came in at No. 3 with an 81% brand passion index, just behind Taco Bell, in a ranking of 100 quick-service and fast-casual restaurants. The research company also gave us high marks for social strategy, saying we are labeled by many consumers as their “favorite corporate Twitter account” thanks to strategic use of hashtags for special events including #FreeMugFriday, #RootBeerFloatDay and #AWcademyAwards.

“Social allows restaurants to tap into consumer trends and discover what needs to be changed, and what current brand qualities should be emphasized,” QSR magazine writes. “It’s unbridled opportunity to drive not just engagement, but authentic interactions.”

A&W may have an edge over other fast food franchises, since we were first. We’re celebrating our 100th anniversary this year along with a brand resurgence which has been growing since a core group of franchisees bought the franchise in 2011.

We stay modern with sophisticated targeting and digital engagement while embracing our roots in those areas that have meaning to our fan base. Our customers come not just for the all-American comfort food we offer, but also for the nostalgia. Guests fondly remember the days of the drive-in and want their own kids and grandkids to have a similar experience, like enjoying the cold, delicious Root Beer we make in stores daily.

Learn more about the franchise opportunity

We have 600+ franchises locations nationwide and are continuing to grow strategically. Please explore our website and request our free Franchise Information Report to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!

Longest-standing A&W franchisee shares his thoughts on the last 100 years in business | A&W Restaurants

Chairman Dale Mulder talks about A&W Restaurants’ next 100 years in Restaurant Business magazine

Dale Mulder

A&W Restaurants has had a banner year, celebrating our 100th anniversary in business. At 576 locations open or in development nationwide, we’re continuing to strategically grow our brand.

A&W Restaurants have been known and loved for a century, and in a recent article in Restaurant Business magazine, Chairman Dale Mulder shared some of his personal history with A&W. He’s seen quite a lot of it.

Mulder, a multi-unit franchisee with 15 stores who previously served as President of A&W Restaurants Inc., is “enthusiastically watching how the 100-year-old operation is preparing itself for its next century — in large part by trying to remain true to its past,” the magazine wrote.

“I’d say 90, 95% of our success comes from getting back to our roots—having frozen mugs in every restaurant, getting back to making A&W in every restaurant,” Mulder told the magazine.

A rich history

Mulder, as our longest-standing franchisee, has witnessed “virtually every key development for the restaurant brand” in the past 70 years, first as a customer, later as a food company salesman for A&W and eventually as a franchisee and later, President.

Through different owners and consumer trends, the brand has sailed through ups and downs. As the magazine wrote, “A&W has experienced a brand resurgence. About two years ago, the chain’s 600 U.S. restaurants resumed making their root beer on premise, using sugar and a wooden paddle like the one that stirred the mugful Mulder tipped back as a boy. The chain’s signature product is served once again in a frosty mug like the one Mulder clutched, not the paper cups that crept into use as A&W aged.

“But recapturing the delight he knew as a boy is ‘what’ll build our brand back,’ says Mulder, noting that a new A&W unit took in $11,000 on its first day in business. ‘We’re 98% there.’”

The most significant development in recent history was in 2011, when Yum Brands decided to sell off A&W. That’s when “Mulder reached out to A&W’s Asian franchisee and the U.S. franchise community to buy the chain. ‘Now we control our own destiny,’ he says.

“The first call Mulder remembers making as he put together the buying group was to Kevin Bazner, a former executive of A&W… He agreed to come aboard as CEO, with the mission of recapturing the brand’s former glory.

“‘He’s done a fabulous job for us,’ Mulder says. ‘We’re back in a growth mode. We have 16 or 17 restaurants under development.’”

What’s next for A&W Restaurants

As for Bazner, he believes A&W’s secret to the last 100 years will take us through the next 100 equally well: operational excellence.

“The one thing that’s been consistently there throughout all our years in business is our operators,” Bazner says. “Through all our ups and downs, it always comes back to our operators. Their tenacity, their sheer willpower, have really made A&W what it is today.”

Staying current

What it is today is a nearly 600-unit chain of restaurants that is counted among America’s favorite brands. Our franchisees have enjoyed 32% average same-store sales increases since 2011, and our executive leadership hasn’t changed in that time — unlike the turnover many brands experience.

We understand the need to stay current — our social media presence is very popular among consumers — while also remaining true to the things that customers have always loved about A&W Restaurants.

A&W is focusing on building out our freestanding restaurants, and we welcome multi- and single-unit investors alike to join our franchise family.

Learn more

Fill out the form on this page to start a conversation, or explore our website to learn more about the franchise opportunity with A&W Restaurants. We look forward to hearing from you!

Royalty Reduction Helps Propel A&W Forward

Through the end of 2019, A&W is offering significant savings on royalties for new franchisees. Here’s why.

A man in an A&W branded orange-checked shirt smiles at the camera as he holds a burger in both hands. A Root Beer float is visible to his left.

CEO Kevin Bazner and his team are focused on generating bottom line results for franchisees. To help new franchisees get off to a great start, that includes reduced royalties for the first years in operation.

A&W celebrated 100 years in business this year, and we’re already looking toward our next century in business. As we execute our aggressive growth plans, we want to sweeten the pot for savvy investors to help us build the brand.

Our Second Century Growth Initiative reduces royalties for all new franchise partners in the U.S. through the end of 2019. Our leadership team is anticipating a lot of growth in areas where our brand is already known and beloved, as well as in less developed territories. The reduced royalty program, combined with our new store redesign, will help propel that growth.

Three years of reduced royalties

Since being acquired from YUM! Brands in 2011, A&W has opened more than 60 new U.S restaurants; 15 are planned for 2019. Same-store sales on average have grown more than 32%.

The brand was bought by a core group of franchisees, and that puts us in a unique position to make the decisions that are best for our franchisees — and our brand overall — in the long-term. We wanted to entice experienced entrepreneurs to our franchise, and lower royalties will allow them more flexibility in their first few operating years, which is crucial to success.

A&W franchise costs are accessible, with an average startup investment ranging from $269,000 to $1.2 million. With a reduction in first-year royalties for new operators from 5% to 2%, that means having more money to re-invest in your business wherever it may be needed in that important first year. The royalties are adjusted to 3% in the second year and to 4% in the third, before returning to 5% in the fourth year.

Why A&W is a worthwhile investment

You know we’ve been in business for 100 years, but do you know why?

Operational excellence.

“The one thing that’s been consistently there throughout all our years in business is our operators,” says CEO Kevin Bazner. “Through all our ups and downs, it always comes back to our operators. Their tenacity, their sheer willpower, have really made A&W what it is today.”

A&W is a brand that’s known and loved nationwide. We’re a large chain with nearly 600 locations, but we still have a lot of territory availability. We also have a strong balance sheet and a stable leadership team to ensure brand consistency.

We keep our standards high and we keep looking at how we can grow stronger and better. A&W has no exit strategy because we’re owned by franchisees — our people are the brand. Everything we do, we do with franchisees and bottom-line profitability in mind.

Learn more

You can discover more about our franchise offering by filling out the form on this page. You can also continue to explore our website to learn more about A&W franchise costs and the benefits of investing in our restaurant franchise opportunity. We look forward to hearing from you!

A&W named among FBR’s Top 25 food franchises

Franchise Business Review’s independent survey shows why A&W Restaurants might be one of the best fast food franchises to own

A&W was named a Top 25 franchise by Franchise Business Review (FBR) in its 2019 report on the Top Food and Beverage Franchises.

Coming on the heels of our 100th anniversary, A&W is not only the oldest restaurant franchise in the country, we may also be one of the best. We are especially proud to be included in the FBR ranking, since these awards are based on feedback from an independent survey that gauges franchisee satisfaction.

FBR, a market research company, provides the only ranking of franchises based solely on actual franchisee satisfaction and performance. For the 2019 ranking of the list of top food and beverage franchises, FBR analyzed 18 months’ worth of data from over 4,200 franchise owners in the food sector regarding their overall satisfaction with their brands and their likelihood to recommend them to others.

“One of our biggest competitive advantages is the way our ownership is structured,” says A&W CEO Kevin Bazner. “Our shareholders are our franchise partners. It’s a long-term view of the business. There’s no exit strategy, and our franchisees have a true say in all our business decisions.”

A&W’s franchisees were surveyed on 33 benchmark questions about their experience and satisfaction regarding critical areas of their franchise systems including training and support, operations, franchisor/franchisee relations, and financial opportunity.

Michelle Rowan, president of FBR, talks about the awards selection process in the video below:

““The food franchise sector is historically one of the toughest, but delivers a tremendous return on investment for many,” said Eric Stites, CEO of Franchise Business Review. “The key is to choose the right brand. The food and beverage brands on this year’s list are performing well in many areas that are critical to their franchisees’ success. 85% of food and beverage franchisees we surveyed said they enjoy operating their business and 79% said they would do it all over again if given the opportunity, which are strong indicators of business owner satisfaction.”

Some of the highlights from A&W owner surveys included top marks for:

  • Respect
  • Enjoying the organization
  • Honesty & integrity
  • Trust
  • Enjoying the business

In addition, we were 20% higher on FBR’s benchmark as it relates to “involving franchisees.”

Learn more about A&W franchise opportunities

A&W fast food franchises are a perfect investment opportunity for all kinds of entrepreneurs, from those who want to improve their hometowns to those who want to buy several locations and scale quickly. We have 600+ franchises locations nationwide and are continuing to grow strategically. Please explore our research pages and request our free Franchise Information Report to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!

How our brand of hip nostalgia brings in customers

Yes, it’s the food and the atmosphere. But A&W’s hip nostalgia is scientifically proven to make people feel better.

As we’re celebrating our 100th anniversary this year, our particular brand of hip nostalgia is standing out more than ever. A&W Restaurants have been around since the summer of 1919 when we opened our first Root Beer stand in Lodi, CA, and our customers have been making fond memories ever since. The fact that we’ve been around so long is part of the reason our customers keep coming back, and bringing new generations with them.

We’re still a thoroughly modern fast food franchise, with sophisticated business systems that rely on the latest technology. Our ownership structure has guided us through a brand resurgence. Franchisees brought out the brand in 2011. Since then, A&W Restaurants have enjoyed a nearly 33% increase in average same-store sales.

Why nostalgia is driving guest traffic

Pete Knight owns A&W franchises in St. Helena and Lodi, CA, where it all began. His relationship with the brand goes back a lot further than 1995, when he opened his first A&W Restaurant. “My favorite A&W memories are of going to the A&W Drive-In in San Rafael, CA, where they had carhops, and eating a cheeseburger and fries in the back seat of our family car with my mom, dad and little sister,” says Knight, who went to work as a cook for A&W when he was a teenager in the 1970s.

Knight worked his way up through management and eventually became a franchisee. He loves the value A&W still places on nostalgia. “We serve our root beer in frosty glass mugs like Roy Allen did in 1919,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle recently. “He was very passionate about it, and we still are.”

He’s not the only fan of nostalgia, as it turns out. Studies show nostalgia gives people better self-esteem and boosts optimism. It also makes people feel happier, more socially connected and even gives life more meaning, according to Psychology Today.

Great food and happy memories are a powerful combination — especially when combined with near-universal brand recognition.

Learn more about the franchise opportunity

A&W fast food franchises are a perfect investment opportunity for all kinds of entrepreneurs, from those who want to improve their hometowns to those who want to buy several locations and scale quickly. We have 600+ franchises locations nationwide and are continuing to grow strategically. Please explore our research pages and request our free Franchise Information Report to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!