The parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s quick service restaurants is reportedly making a massive brand investment focused, in large part, on technology-enabled business improvement. According to a company press statement, CKE Restaurants will make “a fresh start that will focus on physical and digital transformations over the next four to six years, with more than 500 restaurant locations across 20 markets being updated by the end of the year.”
Overall, the the privately held company, which is based in Franklin, Tennessee, has nearly 4,000 franchised or company-operated restaurants in 44 states across the United States and over 35 international markets. According to a company statement, the reimaging of restaurants will focus on “holistic renovations, technology advancements and streamlined operations” contributing to improved guest, franchisee and employee experiences.
CKE, along with its franchise community, will reportedly invest half a billion dollars in overall transformations, including $60 million alone from CKE on corporate locations. With 95 percent of all restaurants already committed to the reimage efforts, this will be a priority business initiative for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s over the coming years. Last month, as reported here, CKE upgraded its digital loyalty program to all restaurant locations.
“The QSR industry is a game changing and unconventional group to be a part of — brands are constantly upping their game to meet the demands of today’s evolving consumer,” said Matthew Walls, chief global development officer of CKE Restaurants. “CKE is known for having a finger on the pulse of what customers crave and we have continued to innovate our menus to lean into that, but we are the first to admit that our restaurants haven’t kept up. Elevating two brands that are due for much-needed upgrades is no small feat, but one that our team is passionate about. This is just the beginning for the refreshed Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s that consumers know and love.”
While the specific technology upgrades and other details have yet to be disclosed, the changes will reportedly include freshly-installed interior and exterior digital menu boards. The initial phase of the market transformation, geared towards making the day to day easier for restaurant operators, employees and franchisees, rolled out in Columbia, South Carolina, more than two years ago. At that time, the Columbia market’s sales were outperformed by the system. Now, according to the company, Columbia consistently outperforms the system.
“This initiative is a revolutionary moment for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s that is long overdue,” said Chad Crawford, Chief Brand Officer of CKE Restaurants, in a press statement. “These transformations are more than a fresh coat of paint. They are about telling our customers, team members and franchisees that they are heard and valued.”
This milestone follows the recent launch of CKE’s new loyalty program, My Rewards, available through the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brand apps. The program, which celebrates loyal customers, puts the most popular menu items “just a few taps away” and is now available nationally at participating Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants. CKE’s market transformation is scheduled to continue to roll out throughout 2022, followed by more in the coming years.
“Our customers are the resounding ‘why’ behind all that we do, so the combination of launching our My Rewards loyalty program and the transformations within our restaurants are both a direct result of really listening to them and understanding their needs,” said Crawford. “Through both, we are more excited than ever to take on the challenge of innovation and invest in our customers. At the end of the day, everything connects back to our people.”