How the 40+ year old premium sandwich leader is elevating its look and taste to build on its loyal customer base
By Hannah Kramer
1851 Contributor – Togo’s Contributor
For Togo’s, the “West Coast Original” sandwich brand launched in San Jose, California in the 1970s, keeping their original customer base while attracting new fans is important to the brand as it grows.
Earlier this year, the brand hired President Glenn Lunde to further elevate and innovate the West Coast premium sandwich leaders menu with even better quality ingredients and bigger portions.
“Togo’s is famous for its big, fresh, meaty sandwiches and we wanted to build on that success by providing our customers even better turkey and a full 1/4lb of meat on every sandwich,’” said Lunde. “The menu is also a win for our Franchisees because we simplified all of the sandwich recipes for greater consistency and ease of assembly.”
As part of the menu innovation efforts, Lunde brought Anna Nero to the Togo’s team as Senior Vice President of Marketing. Nero brings more than 21 years of experience in brand development, following her well-established career in marketing and product development with Panda Restaurant Group.
“Joining the Togo’s brand is exciting for me because I’m already a fan and consumer,” Nero said. “It was enticing to come aboard and help grow a brand that has been a fabric of so many communities over the years.”
As Nero and the rest of the leadership team work to enhance the delicious fan favorites on the Togo’s menu, they’re also focused on changes that allow operations to become more efficient and effective at the unit-level.
In addition to improving the sandwich ingredients and portions, Togo’s created a fresh new look and feel to the menuboard panels that also made them much easier to navigate so customers can quickly find their favorite choices
“People eat with their eyes. And the graphics on the new menu board are very appetizing, so people are getting the sandwiches just how they see them now,” said 40+ year franchisee Dan Pearson.
After collaborating with the Franchisees on how best to improve the quality and portions of the recipes, Togo’s leadership team prioritized the high touch “cascade training” of the menu changes to each and every Franchisee and GM with 3-hour hands-on training sessions.
“From my previous experience, I know that this step of re-marketing requires persistence and consistency to grow,” Nero said. “The opportunity for Togo’s franchisees to give our loyal guests a better sandwich every day is the ultimate goal.”
As part of the updated offerings, in September the brand is launching a Sriracha Melts line-up featuring the customer’s choice of hand sliced hot roast beef, signature pastrami or oven roasted turkey with a creamy sriracha sauce. Continuing its focus on higher quality and greater portions that Togo’s prides itself on, the new sandwiches plays into the spicy flavor profile that customers are looking for.
“Our sandwiches are now easier to make so we can build on that foundation with even tastier sandwich experiences for our guests,” Nero added.
In 2018, as a next step, the leadership team plans to update its salad and wrap offerings to be operationally easier to execute, while providing even more fresh flavor. They will also focus on “clean” salad dressings that are a growing priority for customers. These enhancements are part of a larger operational strategy that includes moving to a pay first method of operations, point-of-sale improvements, improved offsite site ordering and more streamlined catering orders.
“We are trying to make operational changes and support our franchisees throughout these re-marketing efforts that allow them to successfully serve guests from start to finish within 30 minutes, the usual lunchbreak timeframe,” Nero said. “These changes in the ways that we build sandwiches and salads will help our operators improve customer service and the brand as a whole.”
When asked what makes for the franchisor’s success, Lunde feels strongly that the franchisee’ success makes for franchisor success. The company has to support the franchisees in the best way possible to become their franchisor of choice.
“If a current franchisee wants to invest their hard-earned money, we want them to enthusiastically invest in another Togo’s restaurant. For first time franchisees, we want to show them why Togo’s is the best place to Work, Eat, and Own!”