Freddy’s Frozen Custard was named the largest growing chain in the United States and Canada by Chain Store Guide in 2010, and was recently included in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500. With over 50 franchises, 30 to open in 2012, and 152 more that have sold development rights, Freddy’s opened business in a down economy, but has managed to rapidly expand. So are compelling brands made or born? In Freddy’s experience, the answer is both, mixed with careful planning and execution to create a concept that relates in an uncanny way with consumers.
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers’ growth, sales, and customer studies show that the founders created a brand which guests not only appreciate, but enjoy with strong affinity. Where and how did the rapidly growing chain of more than 50 stores get its inspiration for such a compelling brand? Family. And perhaps this strong family background and inspiration is what enables it to tell great stories and serve up high-quality, era-anchored food to families today.
The success of Freddy’s started with two founding brothers, Bill and Randy Simon, who grew up in the 1950s and enjoyed a childhood centered on family life and home-cooked meals that filled their souls as well as their stomachs. Their family values and the man who instilled them, their dad, Freddy Simon, became the inspiration for the successful franchise chain. Their partnership with Scott Redler, a successful restaurateur in his own right, became the foundation for the outstanding growth of the Freddy’s concept.
The three men worked together to create a brand that reflects the values of an era focused on quality and timeless traditions. Inspired by Freddy, the Simon brothers met frequently in Redler’s home kitchen to develop the recipes, atmosphere and service blueprint that would reflect an establishment centered on those themes. Freddy’s founders grasped the power of a brand reminiscent of the 1940s and 50s. . . simpler times. . . featuring a key brand icon and touch point: Freddy. Patrons appreciate Freddy’s story. He brings real humanity and Americana to the brand. The Simons’ father was, after all, a “regular guy” who served his country in uniform, receiving a Purple Heart during his service and then becoming a family man who liked to throw a ball, fish with his boys, and spent his entire professional career in hospitality. “Being able to bring the genuine ‘Freddy’ into the brand has been a phenomenal part of authenticating the brand for our staff and guests,” said co-founder Bill Simon. “He embodies the values and era that our brand was born to personify.”
Black and white photos posted in the restaurant follow Freddy from infancy, showcase his adolescent years on the farm feeding chickens and driving a tractor, and highlight his time of service in the military as a WWII infantryman. Pictures of his growing family in the post-WWII era feature his small children who grew up to launch the concept bearing his name and a more recent color photo shows Freddy’s visit to the Philippines and WWII Memorial. Freddy’s brand is built around memories and values many families share, whether remembered from earlier times or being built today. It’s all included in the structured “FreducationTM” training learned right along with the restaurant skills by every employee.
The Simons and Redler tinkered assiduously at the grill in Redler’s home kitchen to recreate their memories of 50s-inspired steakburgers, ensuring Freddy’s menu lived up to the brand. Freddy’s focuses on high-quality menu offerings that work together and epitomize era classics that stand the test of time. The founders’ insistence on quality made-to-order menu items led the concept from its origination and continues at its core today. The 85%-lean ground steakburger (single, double or triple and California-style), the premium Vienna Beef Freddy’s Style Chicago Dog, Freddy’s Original Double Patty Melt (with grilled onions served on butter-toasted rye), Freddy’s Shoe String Fries complete with Freddy’s Seasoning (and made even tastier by dipping in Freddy’s Fry Sauce), and custom, found-only-at-Freddy’s frozen custards churned fresh throughout the day (to be eaten plain or as a sundae or concrete.
And true to Freddy’s brand of building stories together, even today specialty custards and other new food ideas are created and tested in Redler’s home kitchen with the Simons, family and friends gathering to enjoy the newest from Freddy’s. “We spend a lot of time getting the food just right. It is the physical representation of the brand promise and ranks right at the top of the reasons why our customers return again and again. Equally important is what isn’t on the menu. Keeping the menu true to the era means leaving out many items that sometimes make modern restaurants’ menus confusing or inconsistent,” said Redler.
Thus, the Freddy’s brand was born, not from marketing plans and executive boardrooms, but from real family history, exciting tastes, loving memories, and strong relationships. All of which are supported by cleanliness standards that lead the industry and an over-arching commitment to hospitality. The founders’ experience in previous restaurant ventures confirmed their belief that general managers who are also operating partners make a critical difference in the success of the concept. Their commitment is felt by every employee in the restaurant and is a key element to the atmosphere built on hospitality.
Consumers know the real thing when they encounter it. While Freddy’s brand is in many ways more complex and deeply embedded than other strong brands in casual dining, Freddy’s senior team believes it is the honesty, personal involvement and passion with the brand that unifies its execution in a strong, simple and sustainable direction. Through the totality of brand touch points, Freddy’s has become a brand that is felt, in stomach and in heart, by its franchisees and patrons who demonstrate a strong affinity no matter their demographic. Stop in a Freddy’s today and you will find tables full of teenagers wearing letter jackets and swapping stories over a basket of fries, senior couples sharing a custard sundae together, and families who appreciate the short wait time and quality cooked-to-order food they can afford.
Freddy’s delicious food, coupled with family values and a strong emphasis on hospitality, combine to set the concept apart. Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers gives families a place to gather, reminisce on favorite pastimes, and create their own treasured family memories, just as the founders intended and as inspired by Freddy himself.
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers was founded in 2002 in Wichita, Kansas and now has more than 50 stores operating in nine states. For more information, please visit http://www.freddysfrozencustard.com.