We’ve been around longer than every other hamburger franchise opportunity, and it all started during a parade to honor WWI veterans returning home
Disabled American Veterans this year will receive $100,000 thanks to our annual nationwide fundraiser. In fact, every year on Aug. 6, A&W celebrates National Root Beer Float Day in our 625+ restaurants nationwide by raising money for veteran-related charities.
It’s a win for the men and women who dedicated their time and service to our country, who will benefit from funds raised for charities devoted to helping improve their lives. It’s a win for our guests, who enjoy a delicious A&W Root Beer Float for free on Aug. 6. And it’s a win for our franchisees, who see greater traffic in their stores and increased sales – it’s one of our busiest days of the year – as a result of the promotional awareness around our fundraising campaign. This day is really about celebrating Root Beer Floats and asking our guests to pay it forward.
A&W goes back a long way with veteran appreciation – 98 years, to be precise. We trace our humble beginnings to Roy Allen’s Root Beer stand in Lodi, CA, where he served his very first Root Beer during a parade for veterans returning home from WWI. We experienced a huge influx of growth in the 1950s thanks to the prevalence of GI loans, which allowed veterans to more easily invest in their own A&W franchises.
The famous Root Beer that started it all is still made fresh every day and served on draft at all of our U.S. restaurants, making us a unique hamburger franchise opportunity.
Our franchise gives back
Our decision to raise money for veterans is purposeful. We are indebted to the communities we’re located in, many of them small towns with scattered populations where they celebrate patriotism and appreciate brands like ours that are willing to do business where many brands won’t go. A national recognition of the classic Root Beer Float seemed like a perfect way for us to give back to both customers and veterans.
“We’ve raised more than $650,000 over the last five years for veteran-related charities,” says Kevin Bazner, President & CEO. “And that’s very important to our operators in these smaller towns and rural areas, where Fourth of July parades are still a really big deal. One of the reasons we continue to raise money for veterans is because of our long history as a brand with veterans. Our founder, Roy Allen, had a Root Beer stand at a parade welcoming World War I vets back from the war.”
In the 1950s and ’60s, a lot of our franchisees were veterans who took out low-interest loans from the federal government to buy an A&W franchise.
“We have a long history with veterans, and we embrace that,” Bazner says.
We’re about more than burgers. That’s why we’re growing
We have been very purposeful about our decisions since our franchisees took ownership of the company in 2011. Throughout our company’s long history, we’ve never wavered about the quality of our food, our love of community and our sense of duty to give back to those who serve us. We genuinely love our guests and want to support the causes that are important to them. We have a genuine appreciation for the service members who sacrifice their lives for our country, too, which is why we’ve devoted our fundraising efforts to veterans causes.
We support our franchisees
We have very smart systems in place to help franchisees keep operational costs down and increase their profitability. Because franchisees have a say in every decision through their representatives on the National A&W Franchise Association board, every decision is viewed through the prism of its effects on franchisees.
It’s a strategy that is paying off. With a commitment to quality and a willingness to embrace, and be embraced by, the communities we serve, our brand has seen an exciting resurgence in the past several years. Between 2011 and 2016, we’ve seen an almost 30% increase in sales on average. We anticipate adding 20 units in the U.S. and 40 more overseas in 2017. Our plan is to continue cultivating this growth so that we can become one of the most profitable fast food franchises in business.
A&W is an affordable burger franchise compared to many of the larger brands, and we still have many prime territories available. You can discover more about our franchise offering by exploring our research pages. You can also fill out the short form on this page to request more detailed information. We look forward to hearing from you!
Franchisee uses digital marketing to showcase our nostalgic appeal
Forward-thinking, community-focused marketing has helped one franchisee build a thriving business in the birthplace of A&W Root Beer
Franchisee Pete Knight has a lot of history with A&W, having been a franchisee for more than 20 years and a member of the A&W family for more than 40. Not only that, but one of his two restaurants is in Lodi, CA, where A&W got its start. And Knight is the perfect embodiment of why we’ve remained one of the best restaurant franchises for nearly 100 years, because he grows his business with a savvy combination of nostalgic appeal and forward-thinking digital marketing. Here’s what he has to say about the A&W franchise opportunity:
How long have you been a franchisee?
I’ve been a franchisee since 1995, and we have two locations in wine country: in Lodi, CA, and St. Helena, CA. I go way back, though; A&W was my first job. I started as a cook in 1973 when I was 16, and I became the manager when I was 19, and I was manager from ’76 to ’95.
I always had an owner’s mentality even as a manager. I always treated the store as if it was my own, with that sense of urgency and a sense of wanting to do a good job taking care of our guests, making sure everything was maintained properly and training the employees.
What would you say is the most satisfying thing about being a franchise owner?
The most satisfying thing is the sense of being in control of your own destiny, even though it’s a lot of work and it’s demanding. It is satisfying knowing that you’re building something successful. And I like the idea that I’m working with and providing jobs to young people. I have over 40 employees in the two restaurants combined, so it’s satisfying knowing that I’ve got 40 people that have a job because of me.
What are some marketing initiatives that you do for your stores?
I took marketing classes in college, and I’ve always been kind of a marketing guy. We do a lot of guerrilla marketing in the neighborhoods, taking our mascot, Rooty the Great Root Bear, out for events. We sponsor a lot of Little League teams, soccer, baseball, softball, football, and that gets the A&W name out in the community relatively inexpensively.
We give away a lot of root beer to charities that want to make money. We help them out with making floats or something for an event and they sell the product and make money. That gives us better visibility in the community, and we gain goodwill; the big fast food franchises just don’t get the goodwill like A&W can in the community.
In Lodi we do a weekly car show. That keeps us top of mind. People are talking about us. “Did you see the old cars?” And it’s one of our busier nights of the week.
And Lodi is the birthplace of A&W, so one big event that we did back in 1999 for our 80th anniversary, we built the world record root beer float in downtown Lodi at the original location. We got the whole community involved and raised a lot of money for local churches, schools and youth groups. We had a big car show, and then we built the world record root beer float, and then gave it away. We raised about $10,000 for local charities. People here still talk about that.
We do a lot online, too. I was the first A&W to have a website back in the ’90s. I was the first A&W to do Twitter. We have a Facebook page and Instagram, and we do a lot of digital marketing now. Our vendors and corporate team are very knowledgeable, and they help us a lot in keeping up with all the digital marketing you can do now.
Communities change. There’s a lot of influx and out-flux of customers, so you always have to stay in people’s minds. You can’t just sit on your laurels and say, “Hey, everybody knows we’re here,” you know? You have to get the word out constantly.
Cutline: Franchisee Pete Knight keeps his stores active on social media, drawing in guests by letting them know about upcoming events and posting mouth-watering food pictures.
Alt Text: Three hand-breaded chicken tenders sit in a paper basket on a table. An out-of-focus ketchup packet can be seen in the background.
What makes A&W a strong investment?
Especially for a young, hard-working person, it’s an affordable restaurant franchise to get involved in compared to one of the bigger franchises, and there’s a lot of value in an A&W franchise. You read all the time about other franchises coming and going, but A&W is still here after almost 100 years. That says something about the longevity, you know? I think the stability of owning an A&W franchise is important. It’s not just a flash in the pan like some of these other fast food franchises.
A&W is kind of a complete package. It’s more like family than it is this corporate thing. And then if you want to buy five or 10 franchises, the support’s there to do that, too.
What brings guests into A&W?
A&W has been around a long time, so we have a strong customer base, and they’ve got great memories of A&W. And now they’re bringing their kids in, or they’re bringing their grandchildren in, because they want them to experience the memory. And it lives up to the memory of their youth too, because the food’s as good as the Root Beer. We draw people from all over the community because the food’s good and we’re priced right.
If you’d like to learn more about the franchise opportunity with A&W Restaurants, please continue exploring our website. To start a conversation with one of our franchise development representatives, simply fill out the form on this page. We look forward to hearing from you!