Multi-unit Franchise Owners Find Their Calling with McAlister’s Deli®

Heather and Steve Ricks stumbled into the McAlister’s Deli® franchise system in an unconventional way. On a ski vacation, the couple started a conversation with a McAlister’s Deli® franchise owner while waiting on a ski lift. Heather thinks it was fate.

“Two weeks earlier I had lunch with my family in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the place they picked was a McAlister’s Deli®. I thought it was yummy. I told Steve about it, and he said he would look into it. Nine years later, here we are.”

Now Heather and Steve Ricks own three McAlister’s Deli® franchise restaurants located in Northern Virginia.

“It was an awesome decision. We love being franchise owners. It’s exactly what we were looking for in a brand and a business. This [owning a franchise] is way more fun. It’s nice not having to work somebody else’s agenda. Not climb someone else’s ladder. It’s great being your own employer and having a team behind you, too,” Heather adds.

Every day varies as a McAlister’s Deli® franchise owner. Heather goes out with her catering team to sell their services, works in the restaurants with her teams, and takes care of the guests at her restaurants. Heather is also on the Franchise Advisory Council (FAC) for the franchise and is involved in the decisions that concern the brand as a whole.

“The McAlister’s Deli® brand is solid. The ease of operation is unmatched. It lays a foundation for you to feel confident that you can run multiple locations.” said Heather.

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McAlister’s Deli® Franchise Owner with 80+ Locations Offers His Best Advice for Multi-Unit Operators

Adam Saxton, McAlister's Deli Franchise Owner

Adam Saxton may be the quintessential multi-unit franchise owner. Even though he is only in his thirties, Adam has worked in the restaurant industry nearly his whole life, because his family owned pizza restaurant franchises. When he and his brother went looking for their next opportunity, they knew the importance of a proven restaurant franchise that had a plan for strategic growth. They chose McAlister’s Deli®.

Now, as Co-CEO and owner of The Saxton Group, he and his family are the largest franchise owners in the McAlister’s Deli® system, with 80+ locations in six states.

“One of the things that excites me every day is McAlister’s feels like it’s still such a young brand, even with 400 plus units covering large portions of the United States. I feel like we still have a lot of opportunity ahead of us. We’re opening more restaurants now than we ever have, at a faster pace than we ever have.’

With so much franchise experience behind him, Adam was asked by Franchising World Magazine what advice he would give other franchise owners and multi-unit owners. Here is a list of his best advice:

  1. Never compromise on real estate. One of the worst things you can do is feel pressured to make a long-term real estate decision on a short-term opportunity that you know wouldn’t be as successful. Smart franchisors will provide the time and resources necessary for a franchisee to identify the right location. It all goes back to being patient. If what you’re looking for isn’t available, wait until a more fitting option comes on the market.
  2. Build a self-sustaining team and promote from within. We (The Saxton Group) have built a culture where 100% of our promotions come from within. This encourages employees to want to continue growing within the company and results in greater stability and consistency. Show employees a clear opportunity path, and they’ll form the team that will make your business strong.
  3. Evolve with the times. McAlister’s Deli® has emerged as a strong brand with a large following, due in part to investments and decisions that have been made to push the brand forward. Online ordering, a loyalty app, new menu options, fresher and healthier ingredients, and specific offerings for kids and families are just a few examples of how we continue to evolve to meet the needs of our guests.
  4. Don’t get distracted. One of the best lessons learned in franchising is to keep your head down and focus on why you’ve decided to become a multi-unit owner. Even when the times get tough, focusing on what’s important will eventually lead business owners to a profitable outcome.

If you are considering adding to your portfolio and building an empire like Adam has with McAlister’s Deli®, complete the GET STARTED form now.

McAlister’s Deli® in QSR Top 50

The QSR Top 50 is out, and McAlister’s Deli® is On. The. List!

QSR Magazine is the premier source of news and up-to-date information for all quick-service and fast casual brands. Every year, the QSR Top 50 List offers direct insights into which brands are making their mark in this $300 billion industry.

A lot of in-depth research and analytics goes into creating this list, and considering the never-ending number of brands in the business, making it to the Top 50 is a real accomplishment. Securing a spot on this list says a lot about the current state of the McAlister’s Deli® brand, as well as its future.

Sure, it’s great to be acknowledged, but truthfully, it’s not a shock. With an easy-to-run business model, that excludes fryers, grills, and the need for early mornings or late nights, it’s pretty clear why McAlister’s Deli® is growing. Add to that a menu of real, handcrafted food served with true-blue hospitality, the power and support of FOCUS Brands®, and a solid brand reputation that places a strong emphasis on community, and there is no way around rising to the top.

So, thank you QSR Magazine for creating this list and doing all the research to further prove that McAlister’s Deli® is a top choice for franchisees!

Interested in hearing more? Fill out the form below or click GET STARTED at the top of this page to learn more about owning this award-winning franchise with impressive potential.

College Markets Offer Opportunity for Fast Casuals

In a recent Fast Casual article, Taylor Bennet, VP of Franchise Sales Development at FOCUS Brands®, wrote about the potential of college campuses when it comes to fast casual concepts. Understanding the significance of college markets is to the benefit of fast casual brands looking to grow. Colleges offer a densely populated area of consumers who place high priority on food, a testing ground for innovative concepts, and an opportunity to form lifelong brand advocates. The opportunity exists to introduce new technology to a consumer base accustomed to it and tap into trends across the demographic all the while strengthening fast casual systems as a whole.

Read the full article here.

McAlister’s Deli® “Free Tea Day” is a Unique Way the Brand Connects with its Guests and Communities where its Restaurants are Located

Annual event serves as “thank you” to its loyal guests.

Free Tea Day has a lot of meaning for McAlister’s Deli® franchisees. Started as a promotional concept around June’s National Iced Tea Month a decade ago, the brand began Free Tea Day as a way to say thank you to loyal guests and to give new guests an opportunity to experience the brand’s genuine hospitality. Now, with more than 400 McAlister’s Deli® locations in 28 states, the event has become the biggest sales day of the year across the system.

“Free Tea Day is a way to appreciate our loyal guests, but it also gives new guests an incentive to experience our genuine hospitality in each of our restaurants. Breaking dining habits takes work and strategy, and our Free Tea Day programming is planned to give franchisees tested tools to disrupt their markets, create community around this day and earn new customers,” said President, Paul Macaluso.

As a brand, McAlister’s Deli® sells more than 54,000, 32 ounce glasses of tea a day. The tea offered by the franchisees are held to the highest standards, using Rainforest Alliance™ Certified leaves, steaming-hot filtered water, crystal-clear ice, fresh lemon wedges, and pure cane sugar in the brand’s famous sweet tea. By cultivating an ideology and process around the McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea™, the brand and its franchisees become, in essence, brewmasters of sorts. However, the brand has always taken its tea making seriously, so the title, while trendy, is authentic and well-earned.

“Free Tea Day is our favorite day of the year,” said Chris Smith, multi-unit franchisee and owner of Peak Restaurants. “It’s a chance for us to thank our loyal guests and celebrate our famous tea. It’s something our teams look forward to every year.”
In preparation for Free Tea Day, McAlister’s Deli® provides franchisees with its full support as the system prepares to serve over 400,000 glasses of tea. Programming on staff needs and operational requirements, as well as marketing preparation and execution, are provided as part of the brand’s promise to its franchisees. The franchisor focuses its ad fund to promote Free Tea Day in national and regional markets. Training videos and webinars are only a small part of offerings that help local store owners prepare, and the McAlister’s Deli® National Conference places emphasis on showcasing Free Tea Day photos, feedback and continuing education.

According to Macaluso, “It’s a long day for all of our franchisees, their teams and in our company stores as well, but to see the lines of customers eagerly awaiting their glass of tea makes it all worthwhile.”

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