Despite receiving the worst grade on his business plan from a college professor who said a chicken finger restaurant would never work, Raising’s Cane’s® founder Todd Graves believed in his vision and continued to pursue his dream. Doing much of the renovation work himself on an old building at the entrance of Louisiana State University, he opened his first restaurant in 1996. It was such an instant hit that it stayed open until 3:30 a.m. on opening day.
It wasn’t long before Graves was ready to open another restaurant. And then another. Soon, the company was in a period of explosive growth with plans to open locations across the country.
Raising Cane’s needed an A&E advisor who was ready and willing to keep up.
CSRS started working with Raising Cane’s when the chicken finger chain was opening its ninth location. “Initially we were delivering architectural and engineering services on a site-by-site basis,” says Derek Fitch, CSRS Director of Vertical Development. “But as their growth started to drastically explode, we realized we needed to grow with them. Our role evolved into more of a master consultant and overall program manager.”
CSRS was part of the journey that saw Raising Cane’s grow from 9 stores in 2000 to over 300 locations today. That type of rapid explosion doesn’t happen without some significant growing pains. By design, building at a fast pace in multiple states with different teams of contractors can be a recipe that lends itself to all manner of pitfalls. But by entrusting CSRS to oversee the entire program, to proactively develop the right systems and models, and to deliver strategic advice along the way, Raising Cane’s successfully climbed the charts to become that fastest-growing chain in the nation.
“They were ready to go, and we knew we had to grow with them”, says Fitch.
Specifically, CSRS was instrumental in:
Putting the right people in the right places at the right times.
One of the hallmarks of the CSRS approach is to custom build a team of best-in-class resources and people to address specific challenges and needs. Nowhere was this more critical than with Raising Cane’s. “They were ready to go, and we knew we had to grow with them,” Fitch says. CSRS invested in bringing on board people with specific skills and expertise, including strategy experts and technology experts where appropriate. “When Raising Cane’s said they wanted to go to Texas, we made sure we understood what it would take to operate there successfully, and we hired a project manager with connections and experience in that market.” By investing in the brightest and best human capital, CSRS has stayed in step with Raising Cane’s needs at every phase of the program.
Creating a due diligence report to expedite decision making.
When you’re growing as quickly as Raising Cane’s, and depending on equity investments to make it happen, you need to make smart decisions fast. CSRS introduced a due diligence report that allows Cane’s to quickly size up a potential site and understand the site-specific challenges. The report outlines site restraints and gives an efficient synopsis of permitting and other issues that require attention and consideration. These documents allow the Cane’s team to compare apples to apples when evaluating different sites and to go into each new location fully informed and with a plan to overcome any hurdles.
Establishing prototypes to maximize efficiency.
Many of Cane’s initial stores were one-offs, with each designed and engineered for its specific site requirements. While that approach is fine for a business opening one or two new locations, Cane’s aggressive growth plans demanded a more efficient approach. CSRS recommended and established three prototypes, each with several possible variations based on site size, constraints, and climate, that not only expedites the planning and design phases of each new project, but also helps Cane’s better control costs and grow more profitability.
Fine-tuning the drawings.
It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of a growth spurt, and finding the time to perfect architectural and engineering documents can take a back seat. “It’s the mentality of let’s just keep getting the work done, and we’ll fix it later,” says Fitch. But CSRS made it a priority to be not only a good service provider, but also a good consultant, encouraging Cane’s to invest in the quality of its documents sooner rather than later. “There may never be a perfect set of drawings,” Fitch says. But by thinking strategically, making some tweaks, and figuring out where to do things better and smarter, CSRS was able to get the drawings as clean as possible. This enabled the team to head off problems down the road, saving time and money, and setting the stage for better, more efficient execution.
Investing in technology.
Best-in-class architectural and engineering technology was not initially on the Raising Cane’s team radar. But CSRS made the argument for embracing technology as a way to minimize waste and further control mistakes and costs. The CSRS team introduced Cane’s to Revit, a next generation software program that’s beginning to take root in the architectural and design world. “We know this technology is where the industry is heading,” says Fitch.
“We felt it was right for Cane’s because of its ability to create 3D models and actually tour what a restaurant is going to look like before you spend the money to build it”, says Yanez Moree, CSRS’s program director for Raising Cane’s.
CSRS advocated that the right technology is critical to achieving aggressive growth goals and making strategic, financially sound decisions moving forward.
With the help of the CSRS team, Raising Cane’s was named the fastest-growing chain in the nation for 2017 by Nation’s Restaurant News. The company isn’t even thinking about slowing down. CSRS will continue to serve the chain’s ongoing development needs and is starting to get involved in the operations side of the business as well. Currently, CSRS is looking for ways to help Cane’s analyze, update, and upgrade some of its older existing locations. “In many ways, our business has grown up along side Cane’s,” says Fitch. “We’ll continue to be the partner they can trust to put the right people, resource, technologies, and solutions in place to make their goals their reality.”
Our team is multi-disciplined to provide the broad variety of expertise necessary to deliver for our client. This unique group of talented professionals has set the standard for leveraging technology and innovating on delivery processes.
“Our quality is teamwork, and that’s Raising Canes!”
Derek Fitch has extensive experience in real estate development projects and historic restoration and is often involved in strategic business consulting focusing on planning and growth.Contact