Golden Chick moves forward with plans for expansion and technological enhancements.
By Kat Zeman, Knighthouse Media
When it comes to pecking order, Golden Chick is quickly emerging as a leader of the flock. A fast-growing franchise, the restaurant chain is spreading its wings and multiplying.
Famous for its hand-battered chicken tenders, Golden Chick has carved out a dominant piece of the fast food market for itself in the south. It has 187 locations peppered throughout Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida with new restaurants to open in Louisiana this year.
“We’ve been opening about 20 restaurants per year in the last few years,” says Mark Parmerlee, president of Golden Franchising which owns Golden Chick. “That number will pick up this year and going forward. We expect that this year we will finish close to 30 new restaurants. I think we are well positioned for accelerated growth.”
On the international front, the company recently opened three locations in Pakistan and is involved in discussions with other foreign countries, he adds.
Aside from growth, Golden Chick is in the midst of making a number of technological advancements, exploring new food products and designing a modular restaurant option for future franchisees. “It’s our job to stay on top of trends,” Parmerlee says. “We do all these things to help our franchisees so that they can focus on good food and service.”
Keeping up with technology is no longer an option. It’s a requirement. Business that don’t adapt to the demands of today’s tech-savvy consumer quickly find themselves left behind. Golden Chick knows this.
Along with developing a new customer loyalty program, the company is in the process of integrating its POS system with third-party delivery services. In addition, it is developing its own mobile app for third-party delivery.
This will allow consumers to place an order through the app and third-party delivery service providers will bid on delivering that order. The system will determine the best option for the consumer based on response time and cost. Golden Chick plans to launch the new app in 2019.
In addition, Golden Chick is testing kiosks that will allow its customers to browse the menu, place their order and pay for their food without assistance from a cashier. If successful, the kiosks could be rolled out within a year.
“We are also using technology for the hiring and training of employees,” Parmerlee says, adding that the company launched the program last year.
A Modular Move
Although modular construction is still relatively new, it’s gaining popularity with many businesses. And with good reason. It’s often more economical, allows for consistency in design and the process is sustainable.
Golden Chick is in the process of designing a sectional prefabricated restaurant that consists of multiple sections called modules. A new franchisee would have the option to have the restaurant modules shipped to a designed location and assembled – versus building a new restaurant onsite or converting an existing building.
“We’re still in the process of designing them,” Parmerlee says. “Then we will have some modular units done for our own corporate accounts and once we feel that all the bugs have been our worked out, we’ll open it to the franchising community – possibly next year.”
A Golden Investment
Entrepreneurs wishing to open a Golden Chick franchise must have at least $350,000 in liquid assets and a net worth of $1.5 million. The company charges a franchise fee of $30,000 per location with discounts on multiple units. It also collects an ongoing royalty fee of 4 percent and a 1 percent ad fund and charges and 2 percent local advertising fees.
The initial investment, including build-out cost and franchising fee, ranges between $237,950 to $488,000 depending on location. (This does not include real estate, improvements and soft costs). Golden Chick has two sizes for its restaurants: 2,100 or 2,400 square feet.
When it comes to support and training, Golden Chick has developed a comprehensive system. New franchisees receive six weeks of training at the company’s corporate store in Richardson. It involves both classroom and store training.
Golden Chick’s startup program includes field assistance, store design, facility construction, site selection and the grand opening. “We also have an in-house legal team and an opening team that will help train employees onsite and stay through opening as needed,” Parmerlee says. “We really provide significant assistance in the development process.”
After opening, each franchise is assigned a district director that serves as the gateway to the corporate headquarters and assists when needed. The company also does regular inspections at least two times per year, as well as random visits.
“We’ve been at this a long time,” Parmerlee says. “We’ve made every mistake in the book at least twice, but you learn from your mistakes. And that’s what people are buying into – our experience level. Several of our key people are not only employees at the corporate level, but they are also franchisees.”
The Golden Chick story starts in 1967 in San Marcos, Texas. The concept was developed by a former employee of a chicken franchise. His chicken, created by the development of a secret marination process and batter mixes, attracted franchise inquires, and by the time the founder sold the chain in 1982, it had grown to 39 restaurants.
In March 1989, Golden Fried Chicken was purchased by an investment group. Since then, the chain has experienced steady growth with new restaurants opening throughout the region and beyond.
In the early ‘90s, the company underwent a rebranding and made a number of new enhancements to the menu as well as the restaurant appearance and name. Golden Chick was born.
As of 1996, all new stores were called Golden Chick.
The restaurant’s famous Original Golden Tender is made of the whole chicken tenderloin or, as the company calls it, “the filet mignon of chicken.” The chicken is marinated, hand-battered and fried. The restaurant also serves a roasted bone-in chicken, salads and a number of side dishes.