“Potbelly Sandwich Works” Summary: Potbelly Sandwich Works is a privately held restaurant chain that sells submarine sandwiches in the United States. Potbelly Sandwich Works began in 1977 founded by Peter Hastings. The original store is located in Chicago, in a retail space that was previously an antique store, Hindsight, also owned by Hastings. Many of the items that decorate the store were taken from the former business. Despite the fast-paced, never-a-dull-moment world of antique dealing, the couple decided to bolster their business by making sandwiches for their customers.
What began as a lark, turned out to be a stroke of genius. Soon, people who couldn’t care less about vintage glass doorknobs were stopping by to enjoy special sandwiches and homemade desserts in this unusual atmosphere. Its name is derived from potbelly stoves common in the late 19th century. In 1998, Bryant L. Keil purchased the original store and expanded Potbelly to over 200 stores in Illinois, Indiana Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington D. C. , Kentucky, and Wisconsin.
When Bryant Keil paid $1. 7 million for Potbelly Sandwich Works in 1996, people thought he was crazy. Convinced he could take the unique sandwich joint to the next level; Keil acquired Potbelly and has since grown the concept into a 10-state chain that posted 2006 revenue of $140 million. Although Potbelly has many sandwich shop rivals and competition in the fierce quick-serve segment of the restaurant industry, Potbelly has more than held its own. Billed as “a unique and quirky sandwich joint,” it has a unique appeal.
Potbelly’s core strategy elements include the 4P’s- Product, Place, Promotion, and Price. As the years passed, the lines grew. Booths were added, along with ovens for toasting sandwiches to perfection, vista-coolers, napkin dispensers, hand-dipped ice cream – even live music. The little antique shop had become the full-fledged, totally unique sandwich joint that you enjoy today. Potbelly’s core strategy elements include the 4P’s- Product, Place, Promotion, and Price. First is the Product. Anyone can sell a sandwich; you need to be able to sell an experience.
Industry observers point to several aspects of the Potbelly experience that make it the first choice for young professionals on a quick lunch break. Friendly service and an unbeat atmosphere, live music, antique fixtures, real books for customers to read or borrow create a homey environment for customers. Then there is the Place. Geographic locations are selected carefully. Bryant Keil looks for cities that are not saturated with sandwich chains and have an urban/suburban density of core customers-young professionals less than 35 years old.
Locations must be convient for them since Potbelly stores rely on high repeat business. Then there goes Promotion. Promotions are keyed to events like store openings and National Sandwich Day. For example, on National Sandwich Day, Potbelly hosts a “Belly Buster” sandwich eating contest at Potbelly stores. Prizes are awarded to winners and runners-up. Other event promotions raise money for local charities such as food banks, and community- based reading and music appreciatin programs. Then goes the last P which is Price.
Potbelly sandwiches sell for $3. 79. Pricing is an integral part of the value Potbelly offers customers and can be summed up as, “Just good food at good prices. Considered separately, any one of Potbelly’s marketing strategy elements may not seem overly powerful as a competitive weapon, but combined and implemented with zeal, they are a significant competitive threat to national, regional, and local competitors. The idea behind Potbelly is simple: superior value, fun-filled atmosphere, warm, comfy decor, and quick friendly service.
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