Member Spotlight: Focus on Guest Experiences Fuels Sustained Turnaround at Steak ‘n Shake

FRLA member Steak ‘n Shake continues to achieve strong results in its six-year turnaround and is about to record its 25th consecutive quarter of positive same store sales. With 77 company-owned stores and two franchised restaurants in Florida, Steak ‘n Shake has created more than 8,000 jobs in our state.

The ongoing performance increases, which began in late 2008 when owner Biglari Holdings took over management of the 550-unit chain, are even more remarkable considering that they occurred during a period when many national quick service restaurant operators faltered in the face of shifting competition and consumer tastes. CEO Sardar Biglari and his team got the 80-year old iconic brand back on track with a return to basics, focusing on improving guest experiences and operational execution. Anything that was a distraction to these strategic priorities was eliminated, allowing the chain to build a nearly 40 percent cumulative increase in guest traffic since 2009. In its latest quarter, Steak ‘n Shake reported same store sales increased 6.6 percent, with customer traffic up 4.6 percent.

“We quickly succeeded in turning around the chain because of our entrepreneurial culture, by placing the customer first,” explained Sardar Biglari, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Biglari Holdings. “Steak ‘n Shake will reach a major milestone when it registers its 25th consecutive quarter of increases in same-store sales. All our approximately 23,000 employees, especially those who weathered the most perilous times in our history, ought to be proud of their achievements.”

Unlike many restaurant chains that rely on price increases and unit expansion to drive sales, Biglari has taken minimal price increases and opened only four new company stores since the turnaround began.  Instead the focus has been within the four walls of each restaurant, finding better ways to serve guests while preserving price value, improving the quality of the menu items, and tightening operations controls to improve restaurant level performance.  The result has been a turnaround that has far outpaced most competitors.

Building on its success with existing restaurants, Steak ‘n Shake has embarked upon international expansion, bringing the premium steakburgers and hand-dipped milkshakes that have made the brand famous in America to the United Arab Emirates and other nations.