For ten years the businessman Ron Shaikh turned Panera Bread into one of the largest networks of cafes in the U.S. market, while the rate on franchising and loyalty helped to increase sales by five times.
The largest U.S. business publications have repeatedly called Panera Bread one of the fastest growing U.S. companies. In the 2006 survey agency TNS Intersearch showed that customer loyalty of network is the highest in the industry. Ron Shaikh repeatedly nominated for the award of different organizations as a "businessman of the year". What is the secret of success? It is in positioning, skillful work with buyers, successful franchising thirty-years’ experience of Sheikh, the veteran of the U.S. grain industry.
It all began in 1978, when Shaikh, only received an MBA at Harvard Business School, began working in the Boston Network Original Cookie. The company preferred to open new locations in the large shopping centers, while Ron was sure it would be more useful to rely on a cafe in the city center. Unable to find a common language with their masters, Shaykh retired and opened his own point of selling cookies: borrowed money from father and hired a couple of assistants. The first six months have flown by quickly. There was much to do, but the income was quite suited the businessman. He still wanted more.
"Business - as a sculpture: you create something in three dimensions ... But I needed the other dimensions" - Shaikh laughs. It was necessary to expand. Then Au Bon Pain appeared, which included three cafes, who sold cakes. After some persuasion, the owner Bon Pain Louis Kane agreed to sell its stake in the business, and the companies merged.
For several years, Shaikh meticulously developed every aspect of business of the new company. For example, remarked, that no one buys pastries until noon. Then the Shaykh decided to include croissants in the menu. Immediately there appeared early morning shoppers. Then Ron took up staff: "I needed people who would have cared about my business. I once met a girl in one of our cafe and noticed that the wife of one of the managers was washing dishes in the kitchen so there were not enough workers. And I had to roll up the sleeves and took up the sponge ... I did not remember the name of the girl, but that manager now is one of the directors of Panera Bread locations».
To better understand the customer, the businessman worked at the box office himself. Once (it was in 1984), the buyer asked him to cut the bread into two pieces, then put in the middle the ham, bought in a nearby store. Shaikh took only a few seconds to realize that it was enough on bread and baking. In the menu of Au Bon Pain sandwiches, soups and salads appeared immediately.
The company has grown rapidly. Instead of the first four cafes it had come more than 250 Panera bread locations in major cities of the east coast of the United States: Boston, New York, Washington DC. In 90s Au Bon Pain tried to buy the Giants - PepsiCo, Sara Lee and many others.
In big cities things went well. Then Shaikh met with the founder of Network St. Louis Bread Ken Rosenthal and offered him 23 million dollars for his business. Rosenthal agreed and used the money to open more franchise café Au Bon Pain. Shaikh also had the opportunity to return to the small towns of the Midwest. But alas, the revenues did not grow as fast as we would like. And the businessman again rolled up his sleeves. At this time, he began studies of the market.
It turns out that Americans do not want the same food and ready to give up junk food in favor of something special. Shaykh immediately began a total rebranding. For two years he worked on the bread, the most appropriate customer tastes, had a redesign of outlets and the brand changed to Panera - "bread basket." The strategy worked: sales increased by several times.
In 2004, the skeptics were talking about the possibility of falling sales of Panera Bread: America took the idea of low-calorie diets. But the Shaykh found the way out.
Today, it can be found more than 1100 Panera Bread locations, and about 300 of them work on their own. The rest cooperate as franchisee of partners. And most importantly, the scale and fame of the company's business made it entrance into profitable contracts with smaller networks.
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