Page 15 - Issue 46 Oct2020
P. 15

    IT platform and mobile app, which made for seamless curbside pickup and third-party deliveries. With the chain’s ability to pivot quickly and effectively, online orders and third- party delivery now account for some 50 percent of its revenue, up from 15 percent pre-pandemic.
“We have an incredible IT platform,” Cancro said, noting that the chain
has been investing in IT for 20 years, having spent as much as $6 million on its point of sale system, app and other back office platforms. “Domino’s
and Starbucks are known as IT companies, but so is Jersey Mike’s.”
The chief executive also pointed to company-hosted webinars early in the pandemic aimed at helping store managers create a safe environment for customers and team members. That included placing tables in
front of the counter to ensure social distancing, along with ceiling- to-counter plastic to provide an additional layer of protection.
Many of those stores were already undergoing a facelift at the time.
Late last year, Cancro and his team announced plans to retrofit and modernize every Jersey Mike’s location in its portfolio. The news was highlighted by the fact that the company was picking up the tab, even though franchisees are contractually required to upgrade their stores
every seven to 10 years, at their own expense.
“You’ve got to be present, you’ve got to compete with the new concepts that are coming in,” Cancro said. “That’s how you keep your business. People come and, maybe they don’t say something, but they know that you’ve put money back into your business.”
The sweeping update will cost around $150 million, representing roughly $75,000 per store, which typically range between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet. The company is now launching the renovations at roughly 20 to 30 locations per week and expects to have the project fully completed by next summer, creating a collection
of upscale, contemporary stores that will still honor its history and Jersey Shore roots.
“It was important to still keep our identity,” he said. “We were pleased with it.”
The chain’s expansion plans are also now back on track after being stalled
by the COVID-19 crisis. Central to that effort will be a new program aimed at providing franchise opportunities for managers and assistant managers in the system. Specifically, Jersey Mike’s will sign the lease as a company and put up the money to open a new store, which the new owner-operator will in turn pay back in roughly five years.
The company has about 15 participants so far under what’s known as the Coach Rod Smith Ownership Program, a nod to Cancro’s former youth football coach, who loaned him $125,000 in 1975 to
buy the original Mike’s Subs shop in Point Pleasant Beach. He also noted that any franchise owners who are losing a manager as a result of the program will be compensated with half of the new store’s royalties for three years.
“For a young person in a store that really gets it, that’s a leader by example, that pulls people along, that gets our culture of giving, we want to back them,” he said.
Cancro also lamented the economic impact of the pandemic, but said
it may provide a new opening for
a growth-minded chain. That’s especially true in North Jersey, where space in top-tier markets can be hard to come by.
That stands to change.
“What’s happening now is that there’s going to be lot more opportunities to go into small retail centers because, unfortunately, people are coming out,” he said, adding that construction costs have also stabilized in recent months.
“We see a very good future in the near term to grow additional stores, and especially in Jersey.” RE
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