Despite receiving an unfavorable grade on his business plan from a college professor who said a chicken finger restaurant would never work, Raising 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 north 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. It was at this point that Raising Cane’s recognized the need for an Architectural and Engineering Firm that could not only deliver one great restaurant at a time but also function as a trusted development advisor.
CSRS began working with Raising Cane’s in 2000 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’ Client Manager for Raising Cane’s. “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 nearly 500 locations today, but such rapid expansion doesn’t happen without experiencing some significant growing pains. Building at a fast pace, in multiple states, with a diverse array of consultants, vendors and contractors can be a recipe that lends itself to all manner of pitfalls; however, by entrusting CSRS to oversee the program, proactively develop optimal systems and procedures, and deliver strategic advice along the way, Raising Cane’s successfully climbed the charts to become one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains 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 highly talented 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 aboard 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.” To reiterate its dedication to Raising Cane’s, CSRS opened a Dallas office in September of 2017 with the intention of strengthening communication and collaboration amongst the two entities. By investing in the brightest and best human capital, and strategically employing those resources according to their strengths, CSRS has afforded itself the ability to align with Raising Cane’s ambitions at every tier 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 Raising Cane’s to quickly evaluate a potential site and understand any site-specific challenges. The report outlines site restraints and provides a thorough synopsis of permitting and development issues that require consideration. These documents allow real estate and property development teams to compare various sites and go into each new location fully informed, equipped with a plan to overcome any hurdles.
Establishing prototypes to maximize efficiency.
Many of Raising Cane’s initial stores were one-offs, with each designed and engineered to unique specifications. While that approach is conducive to a business opening one or two new locations, Raising Cane’s aggressive growth plans demanded a more efficient approach. CSRS recommended and established prototypes, each with several possible variations based on site size, jurisdictional requirements, market demand, and climate. The establishment of a few streamlined restaurant configurations not only expedites the planning and design phases of each new project, but also helps Raising Cane’s better control costs, reduce construction schedules, solidify brand identity and promote overall profitability.
Fine-tuning the design for maximum performance.
It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of continuous, rapid growth; consequently, finding time to optimize design decisions can often get overlooked. “It’s the mentality of let’s just keep getting the work done, and we’ll fix it later,” says Fitch. But, despite rapid growth and evolving measures, CSRS considers it a priority to be not only a good service provider, but also a good consultant. As a condition of providing satisfactory consultant services, CSRS encourages continual collaboration amongst several Raising Cane’s departments to process, evaluate and revise, when necessary, prototypical design intent. “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 and Raising Cane’s continue to take a holistic approach to optimize the restaurant design. This method enables the team to proactively solve conflicts, saving time and money, and set 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 recognized the necessity to embrace it not only as a product delivery tool, but also as a way to improve communication, enhance management efforts, minimize waste and prevent costly mistakes. The CSRS team leverages a number of management tools in tandem with some of the industry’s latest production software. More recent efforts to provide three-dimensional assembly exhibits have proven an invaluable construction tool. The ability to deconstruct certain design components and visually display the relationship of their individual parts is a unique educational instrument that diminishes material waste and averts repetitive misunderstandings during construction. “We know this technology is where the industry is heading,” says Fitch.
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, and the company shows no sign of slowing down. CSRS will continue to serve the chain’s ongoing development needs, while beginning to get involved in the facility maintenance side of the business as well. Currently, CSRS is looking for ways to help Raising Cane’s analyze, update, and upgrade some of its older existing locations.
“In many ways, our business has grown up alongside Raising Cane’s,” says Fitch. “We’ll continue to be the partner they can trust to put the right people, resources, 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.
“Partnership is our greatest quality, and we are proud to call Raising Canes our partners!”
Our multi-faceted approach allows CSRS to provide the broad spectrum of expertise necessary to deliver for a rapidly growing client. This unique group of talented professionals has set the standard for leveraging technology and innovational delivery processes.
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