Once regarded as one of the fastest growing companies in the fast food market, Chipotle has seen their share of setbacks in recent years. They saw a boom in stock growth from late-2012 to mid-2015, during which time they experienced a triple in company high of around $750 per share. Unfortunately, then came the E. coli outbreaks at multiple Chipotle restaurants that crashed sales in 14 different states. This caused both its reputation for real food and its stock price to take a major hit.
In order to rebound and start to repair its damaged reputation, Chipotle is overhauling nearly everything about its core business. First and foremost, the food chain primarily known for its burritos, is beginning to add several new items to its menu. Chipotle also plans to redesign a majority of its restaurants, part of which includes testing digital ordering tablets. The company will also add to its marketing attempts by launching television ads to potentially bring awareness back to the once prosperous brand. Each of these new innovations is a huge step for Chipotle, as it is all greatly contrasting to the business model that the brand has had for nearly 20-years.
Source: Huffington Post
As you can imagine, Chipotle’s biggest change is the addition of new menu items. Chipotle is testing menu innovation for the first time in nearly 20 years of delivering practically the same ingredients within each of their menu items. Just last month, they made the decision to add chorizo - a blend of chicken and pork sausage - to their menu. With the recent success of the new changes, executives say that the company has plans to continue adding new menu items on a regular basis to keep things fresh.
According to Chipotle's co-CEO, Steve Ells, Chipotle is also tinkering with the idea of adding a dessert item to their menu. There are currently two desserts being tested, one of which will very soon be added to the menu and available to order all across the nation. When asked about possibly adding breakfast items to the menu, Ells expressed that they certainly aren’t ruling this idea out, as it is something that customers have been asking for for quite some time now.
While the new menu items are sure to help increase profits, Chipotle executives are also looking for ways to cut costs. Two ways they plan on doing this are by designing a less expensive restaurant model and slowing down the growth of new restaurants. Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing officer of Chipotle, announced that the company has created a new restaurant design that will cost about $40,000 less to build, and will even see improvements in seating, acoustics, lighting, customer flow, and the presentation of the kitchen.
While Chipotle tests new ways to save money, and new menu items to make money, the company is also altering their marketing techniques. They have decided to pay for television ads and are currently running 30-second ads in test markets, which is something they haven’t done in years, since 2012. If the tests do well, these commercials will likely go national in the near future.
The company is also making big changes behind the scenes, by creating second "make-lines" - or teams of employees in the back of the restaurant - to fulfill catering and online food orders. These additional make-lines should speed up online ordering substantially. They will also be responsible for fulfilling orders from the in-store digital tablets that the company is also currently testing. These in-store tablets will be similar to ordering online (except they will be in the store), as customers will be able to order and pay for their food without ever even talking to a real employee.
Despite all of the changes that Chipotle has recently made, and is still in the process of making, Wall Street seems to believe that there is just no returning to the extremely high sales growth that Chipotle once saw. Whether or not this is true or not, remains to be seen. Will Chipotle be able to redeem itself, or will the company never be the same again? What do you think?