EDITOR’S NOTE: Initially written in May 2021, this case study chronicles the start of our relationship with Bojangles. Since that time, many things have changed quickly, as things often do in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry. As we continue to support Bojangles in the best way possible, we continue to partner together and look for efficiency and design innovations that can change the way — and the speed—that our client partners do business. At the conclusion of this article, we had begun producing panelized structures for Bojangles; however, since that time, we have been tasked with exploring stick-built structures to determine where cost savings may lie. Part Value Engineering and part cost comparison, we took that feedback and ran with it and continue to enjoy a mutually beneficial partnership with Bojangles today.
How Our Partnership with This Quick-Service Restaurant Chain Has Evolved in Record Time
Bojangles Restaurants was established in 1977 in Charlotte, North Carolina, to fulfill the need for distinctive, high-quality food made from scratch served in a quick-service format. While the Bojangles customer’s desire for speed and convenience hasn’t changed, the branding, menu, and the way store locations are brought to life certainly have.
Bojangles has been through its fair share of growth and changes in its 44 years of business. Primarily serving the southeastern United States, Bojangles has always had a strong presence in the fast-food industry, known far and wide for menu items like its breakfast biscuit sandwiches, fried chicken and fixins’, and desserts like the bo-berry biscuit. With a diverse menu like that served all day long, consistency and speed are crucial to the success of this long-running fried chicken chain, which is where trusted partners like HFA and the Moseley Group come in.
Hitting the Ground Running: Learning the Bojangles Way
While Bojangles has been a staple in the south for decades, our relationship with them began relatively recently, in the fall of 2020. It was then that our team was approached to respond to an RFP for an AE firm that could help support a food and beverage consultant group we’ve worked with often in the past, The Moseley Group, which happens to be headquartered in Franklin, Massachusetts, in the same building as our Boston-area studio.
"Our initial connection to Bojangles actually originated with the Moseley Group. They were working with [Moseley] on the new design development package for their prototype, and Bojangles approached them and asked if they had a suggestion for an AE firm that could help sustain their growth and partner with them in the future. The team at the Moseley Group suggested us to Bojangles and mentioned how much they enjoyed working with us in the past," said Kelly King, Team Lead/Designer.
Because of our past positive experiences working with The Moseley Group, our team was excited to partner together on yet another project, knowing that we could work together as an extension of the same team.
Our first step in building a strong relationship with Bojangles involved a “boots on the ground” approach, which meant meeting with the clients in Charlotte, NC to visit a handful of Bojangles locations, ranging from brand new locations, franchises and corporate stores. Being there firsthand and pinpointing areas of opportunity within the store design truly informed the nature of our relationship with the Bojangles client from the very beginning.
It was a great design learning experience for our team to be a part of because we could see each location in action, from orders being cooked in the kitchens to how customers interacted with the store location both before and after they received their meals.
“During our initial meetings with Bojangles, we toured seven different facilities at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, led by one of our Bojangles clients, who provided insightful design history. We were able to see restaurants ranging from 25 years old to stores built as a part of the latest custom concept, all of which we were given the freedom to explore as a team. It was a great design learning experience for our team to be a part of because we could see each location in action, from orders being cooked in the kitchens to how customers interacted with the store location both before and after they received their meals,” said Larry Lott, former HFA Vice-President.
Once our team took stock of what challenges faced the Bojangles team in terms of efficiency, we knew getting a strong prototype into place for their large format stores was essential. However, to do this, our team had to ensure that we had the right team and technology ready to go to keep this program successful and profitable in the future.
Pull Forward for Progress
Before we were brought on board, the Bojangles team had recently reevaluated and updated some of the goals they had for their growth strategy. Currently, these goals center around four main strategies, which inform how we partner with them now and will continue to in the future: value engineering, scalability of stores, cost-effective solutions, and design innovation.
How are we partnering with them to ensure that these goals are at the forefront of our minds each day? One of the most significant ways the Bojangles team at HFA works together with the client to ensure that these goals are reached is by investing in technology and innovative approaches to the prototype work. Our team relies on the ability of REVIT to help our client visualize the different aspects of the prototype design with more ease than they could if we were utilizing AutoCAD. HFA has long emphasized mastering and utilizing REVIT with specific clients, dating back to our first foray into the program in 2005. Since that time, our team has continued learning and growing with the technology and capabilities it provides clients no matter the industry.
Because the Bojangles team has communicated to us that they are poised for future growth and open to new ideas to achieve it, our team knew there were other efficiencies and innovative design approaches that could take this dream and make it a reality.
What’s Next for Bojangles?
One of the most significant ways we’ve been able to do that is by recommending panelization during the design and construction process versus going with the more traditional stick frame build-out. To make the national rollout a reality in the immediate future, we’ve had to walk alongside the Bojangles team and help them understand that the cost-effectiveness and expedited timelines in the future are worth the growing pains that may be felt at the onset. This is where developing a close, trusted relationship with our clients comes in, allowing them to find comfort in the decisions our team makes on a day-to-day basis, often with the advice and collaboration of other industry professionals in mind, helping us guide and inform this process holistically. We’re excited to continue partnering with Bojangles and can't wait to watch their plans for growth become a reality. Meanwhile, our team will continue learning and growing with them to ensure that we’re all on the path to success with every decision made for ongoing prototype design and positioning ourselves as an AE multi-site store designer developing first-hand relationships with their franchisees.