Global Franchise recently took a few moments to catch up with Mark Whittle, Chief Development Officer for Hooters of America, to get a fresh update on Hooters’ growth success and plans for the accelerated growth of this 34 year old iconic brand.
What’s The Recipe Which Has Made Hooters America’s Best-known Restaurant?
The combination of great food, an inviting atmosphere, and our world-famous Hooters Girls is the secret recipe for Hooters’ success. And we continually evolve, whether it’s adding new menu items or updating the look of our restaurants which we did with the launch of our new Prototype 4 building in 2013.
Who Are Your Customers?
We have a very diverse customer base that includes young and old, male and female, children and families. And of course, over the years, scores of celebrities have made the trek into many Hooters restaurants around the world. Our customers choose to frequent Hooters because of our fun and exciting atmosphere, our high quality and diverse menu, the vast selection of cocktails and other drinks, the impactful AV systems in our new restaurants for sports viewing, and of course to enjoy the world class hospitality from our Hooters Girls.
What Is Their Average Spend?
Hooters has food people crave and drinks they love, at prices that won’t break the bank. Our average check is just under $17 USD per person.
How Big Is Hooters Right Now?
As of February 1 2018, Hooters has a total of 430 restaurants around the globe. There are 201 corporate locations in the United States, as well as 138 domestic franchise locations. In addition Hooters has 91 restaurants outside of the United States in Europe, South Africa, Russia, Central and Latin America, Australia, and Asia.Just in 2017 alone, Hooters launched restaurants in four new countries, with openings in Lithuania, Spain, Indonesia, and Bolivia.
Why Is This An Exciting Time For Hooters?
With over 120 commitments for future franchise development around the world, Hooters is poised to rapidly accelerate its growth. In fact, Hooters has already increased growth significantly with nine new company stores opened in 2017, along with 17 new franchise restaurants. In 2018, Hooters will open at least 12 new company stores as well as 18 new franchise locations throughout the world.
How Did It All Begin?
In 1983 on April fool’s Day, six businessmen, known as the “Hooters Six,” created the concept of Hooters in Clearwater, Florida. After finding the perfect Hooters Girl, Lynne Austin, at a Jose Cuervo bikini contest and a sketch of the logo was completed by one of the wives of the Hooters Six, the concept began to take shape. Expectations were so modest at the time that the simple fact the doors opened was deemed worthy of a toast.
Since then, millions have been liberated from the ordinary at this neighborhood restaurant concept. Hooters stresses great food and beverages, a relaxed atmosphere with guest-obsessed service, distinctive curb appeal, and, of course, the world-famous Hooters Girls. These elements combine to make Hooters the place for all types of people: celebrities, sports figures, and anyone who enjoys food and FUN!
When Did You Start Franchising?
Although Hooters first opened in 1983, the first franchise opened later, in 1986.
How Many Franchised Outlets Do You Have And Where Are They?
Hooters currently has 229 franchise locations, including 138 in the United States and 91 in other countries. Currently operating in 30 countries, Hooters has locations in many key markets around the globe, including restaurants throughout Europe, South Africa, Russia, Australia, China, and North, Central, and South America.
Which Areas Do You Want To Expand In To The Future?
Hooters will continue to expand in its current markets, but is also excited to grow new markets as well with the right franchise partners. Key markets for new franchisee recruitment include Europe, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, China, Canada, New Zealand, Korea, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean.
What Makes Hooters An Ideal Opportunity For Franchisees?
There are multiple factors that make Hooters a great franchise opportunity, including our world-renowned brand recognition, uniquely differentiated guest experience, high quality and diverse menu with full bar, world-famous Hooters Girls hospitality, and compelling unit level economics. “One of the great things about selling this concept is that you never have to overcome a brand-awareness hurdle,” says Mark Whittle, the Chief Development Officer at Hooters. “Whether here in the U.S. or abroad, everyone knows Hooters and most people have a genuine fondness for the brand.”
What Do You Look For In A Multi-Unit Franchisee?
There are a few key traits that Hooters looks for in a potential franchisee candidate, including strong financial capitalization, five or more years of restaurant experience, and knowledge of the market to be developed. “We want our associates and our franchisees to be passionate about the business and the concept, and to have a desire to be
with people,” Whittle says. “This is a people business and we happen to sell food. Introverts don’t seem to be successful, or, if you’re an introvert by nature, you need to have the outgoing sort of people working with you.
What Is An Ideal Site For A Restaurant?
In terms of markets, Whittle says, Hooters is predominantly looking at places with populations of at least 125,000 with an upper-middle income base, a high preponderance
of daytime activity and a strong residential base surrounding the site.
In addition, Hooters prefers sites that are within close proximity to regional shopping, cinemas, high tourist or transient areas and/or sports arenas to help drive evening and late night traffic. Some of the most successful Hooters restaurants are located in the hearts of large downtown areas.
Name of franchise: Hooters Restaurant
Number of franchised outlets: 229
Location of units: 30 Countries, including the U.S.
Investment range: $1M-$1.8M for conversions, $2.8M-$3.4M for Ground Up prototype (not including land if purchased)
Minimum required capital: $1.5M liquid, $3M net worth
Contact: Mark Whittle, Chief Development Officer firstname.lastname@example.org, 770 799 2271