One key part of that plan? Reminding customers of what Burger King is all about: The Whopper.
“What we really want to do in the short term is reintroduce America’s love affair with the Whopper,” Tom Curtis, President of Burger King North America, told CNN Business. The plan is to make sure workers are well trained in making the best possible Whopper, and that kitchens support consistency and ease of preparation.
The fast food giant is also going to lean in to advertising its signature burger.
“I don’t think we’ve talked about it enough. I just don’t think we’ve celebrated it enough,” Curtis said. “And I’m looking forward to putting it back in its rightful place as our lead act.” Through advertising, Burger King wants to remind customers that the Whopper is flame-grilled and customizable. But some other tweaks could be in store as well, Curtis said.
The brand is “evaluating whether or not there are changes to the Whopper that could make it a better product,” he said. But the team also doesn’t want to risk messing with its best known offering. “[We’re] a little bit in the camp of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Curtis said.
What went wrong
“Over the last few years during the pandemic and coming out of the pandemic … [Burger King US] didn’t do a great job of adjusting our business to the environment, ” RBI CEO Jose Cil told CNN Business. “We didn’t simplify.”
In the pandemic, many restaurants quickly slimmed down menus in order to simplify kitchen operations when delivery orders suddenly went through the roof. Workers scrambling to fill online orders could at least avoid complicated preparations.
But Burger King did the opposite.
“We, in fact, complicated things,” Cil said, “we added menu items … that were more difficult and not necessarily intuitive and typical for us to serve.”
Burger King recently retired the Ch’King, replacing it with the Royal Crispy Chicken sandwich.
The Ch’King “was a great product that was difficult or challenging for teams to execute on,” Curtis said. “The best thing for the guest is great flavor and consistency. So our Royal Crispy Chicken, which we just launched, offers both.”
As Burger King continues to work on other menu innovations, it will have to balance ease of execution with items that excite customers, Curtis added.
Remodels and rewards upgrades
To help boost sales and restaurant traffic, Burger King is making other improvements, including making restaurants look more modern.
The chain plans to remodel about 800 restaurants over the next two years.
The idea is to have consistent branding, but with customized layouts that make sense for the environment, Curtis said. A Burger King in a city might be smaller, with a higher focus on digital ordering. In a rural town, it might have more seating.