From social media to new locations, America’s premier cheesesteak franchise is on the move
For as long as Walter Meija has been with Great Steak, the company has been the choice for an authentic cheesesteak experience. That’s not to say the company hasn’t changed over the years, and now as Great Steak enters an exciting new period of growth, franchise owners are benefiting from the cheesesteak franchise’s growing brand presence.
“We are going back to our roots, to who we are at the core — America’s Premier Cheesesteak,” says Walter, who joined Great Steak in 1989. As Vice President of Operations, much of the responsibility for this renewed push to growth and brand identity is Walter’s responsibility. Maintaining a steady hand for a storied brand can be challenging, especially as Great Steak evolves to serve a new generation of demanding cheesesteak enthusiasts. “We never really deviated from that, but now there’s a renewed focus on it.”
Great Steak is a nationally recognized, growing brand providing an authentic cheesesteak experience to customers from all walks of life. Positioned for growth, the cheesesteak franchise is a leader in the $19 billion sandwich industry. Great Steak has grown to more than 100 locations nationwide, and as a member of the global franchisor Kahala Brands family of QSRs, Great Steak enjoys a low cost of entry while providing franchisees with the security and support of a company that oversees more than 3,000 premier franchise brand locations.
Great Steak focuses attention on cheesesteak
From the moment a customer arrives at a Great Steak restaurant, they’re immediately engaged. A brand refresh saw stores raise the bar on customer expectations, and management developed a new, brand-centered menu board that positions cheesesteak front and center. The work came after a period of internal reflection on who the company was and what its future should look like.
“We not only rebranded the look and feel of the store, we actually took a long, hard look at what makes us who we are,” Walter says. Even though the core product — an authentic, quality cheesesteak — never varied, like many restaurants, Great Steak’s menu had begun to creep into areas that weren’t a good fit. “We wanted to put the focus back on cheesesteak, because that’s who we are.”
An updated menu placing cheesesteaks front and center kickstarted the process of rebranding, but it wasn’t just about new menus and a fresh coat of paint. The company set about revamping customer experience and growing the brand through expansion, as well. New product offerings that pair well with cheesesteak are on the horizon, coming on the heels of the successful rebranding and in a year where the company has already added two new franchise owners, with several more planned before December.
Cheesesteak franchise digital drive engages customers
Technology and digital media have played a key role in reconnecting customers with the savory cheesesteak sandwich. A new web presence and a dedicated social media team are tapping into new ways to engage customers, whether the customer is looking for information about the menu or wanting to post a review on social media.
“We love to hear from our customers,” Walter says of the company’s social media presence, which is managed by a dedicated team to drive sales to stores. “That’s the only way we can improve. They let us know if there is something we can do better, and they tell us when they had a great meal and just want to share. We’re actively engaged with them.”
Customer engagement is an important part of growing the Great Steak brand. Driven in part by America’s love affair with cheesesteak, customers use social and digital media to connect to the company on a much more personal level.
Innovating around the core brand of America’s Premier Cheesesteak
Through social media and the new website, Great Steak customers are able to connect on a deeper level with the brand, which creates a valuable bond between the local store and the customer. The company continues to seek improved connections to customers, as well, and they’re testing online ordering ahead of a systemwide rollout beginning next year.
Also, though it’s still a bit early to reveal too many details, Walter is excited about the future of Great Steak because they’re on the cusp of a few key developments that he’s sure franchise owners will adore while driving new sales and brand penetration.
In addition to social media and new franchise locations, one additional transformation Walter touts comes in the stores themselves. “We’ve been testing offering beer and wine in some stores,” Walter says, adding that so far customers have been pleased.