Food

Anatomy of a craveworthy melt

Chicken sandwiches and burgers, core items at Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, are often the starting point for its limited-time offers. That’s the case with the Big Daddy Bacon Chicken, a sandwich Ryan Joy, senior director of R&D and culinary, calls “a new and improved melt.” When Technomic asked consumers to choose the LTOs they’d most likely purchase, this sandwich ranked in the top three. More than half said they would buy it, edging out Checkers’ concurrent LTO, the Big Daddy Bacon Double burger. 

1. Building value with height

Checkers’ own consumer research revealed that the taller the sandwich, the higher its perceived value, says Joy. The Big Daddy Bacon Chicken stands tall with chicken, bacon, Swiss cheese, grilled and fried onions and pickles. “Two types of onions give the sandwich heft,” he says. Plus, the combination of textures and flavors create craveability, Joy says. Technomic’s MenuSurf respondents back up this belief; 58% rate the melt as craveable.  

2. Differentiating without complicating 

Thousand Island sauce was the only new SKU needed for the LTO. Staffers spread it on as the sandwich is made to order. “It’s an extra step, but it doesn’t hold up the line,” says Joy. Neither does cooking bacon fresh several times a day, compared to many chains that use precooked bacon, says Joy. These extras set the sandwich apart; over 50% of consumers see it as a unique offering. 

3. Maximizing margins

Although burgers are the main menu item at Checkers, chicken is close behind, always on as another option—and one that helps boost profits. The crispy fried chicken breast used for the melt is 4 ounces—the same size as the chain’s burger. Both sandwiches are priced at two for $5, but chicken’s lower food cost translates to a better profit margin for Checkers’ operators. 

4. Selling via social

In addition to drive-thru signage, Checkers marketed the LTO via Twitter and Instagram, and it was picked up by YouTube “reviewers.” Checkers is relatively new to social media marketing, so the response wasn’t huge. But Joy reports that the sandwich generated 3.5% of sales during its run—“typical for that kind of product,” he says, adding that TV ads, used for larger menu moves, generate higher sales. 

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