Charleys Philly Steaks Franchise Review: Meet Bruce Kim
Vice President of Franchise Development opens up about why now is a great time to invest in the iconic cheesesteak franchise
Bruce Kim, Vice President of Franchise Development for Charleys Philly Cheesesteaks, has worked more than two decades in the franchise industry, for some of the largest franchise chains in the world.
After landing on Charleys Philly Cheesesteaks, he was ready to take the company into a new era of growth.
“Now look at us,” Kim said. “We’re bigger than most restaurant chains in the industry, and one of the reasons for that is our product is so fresh; it’s USDA Choice. We don’t skimp on the quality, our focus is on customer service and we want to make our franchisees happy. It’s a recipe for success.”
Indeed, Charleys Philly Steaks is approaching nearly 1,000 locations throughout the U.S., and just landed a major partnership with mega-retailer Walmart for even more stores in the coming months. The future, as Kim says, is bright for America’s favorite Philly cheese steak shop.
In this wide-ranging interview, Kim talks about what sets Charleys apart from competitors, the benefits of franchising, areas of potential growth and what makes now the right time to invest.
What sets Charleys apart from other restaurant chains?
Some of our competitors haven’t had a new product in 20 years, while we come out with new products, and refine our products, quite often. Our Research and Development team is always looking for the latest trends and listening to what people want.
What are the benefits of franchising with Charleys?
What separates us is we’re still owned by Charley Shin, the original founder and current owner. So we’re not owned by a corporation or by stockholders. And that’s wonderful because we still have that sense of personal touch. We serve family values, and we consider our franchisees family members.
Tell us more about the landmark deal with Walmart.
Walmart is the No. 1 retailer in the world. And we are very experienced in what’s called a captive audience market, meaning when people come to a retailer, we know how to service and take care of those customers. So with Walmart, we are going to fill that need. It really was a good match for our business model. And also for Walmart: they needed a retailer that was different from the traditional burgers and sandwiches.
Where else is Charleys planning growth?
We’re also growing in convenience stores and gas stations; that’s another huge growth channel. Right now we’re at 675+ stores, opening new locations every week, and our goal in the next three years is to get to 1,000. And then by the end of this decade to over 3,000. And you’ll see a lot of major QSRs going into gas stations. We’re already in over 16 gas stations.
What qualities do you look for in a franchisee?
The most important thing is just making sure it’s the right fit. We look for somebody with the right attitude, that has an entrepreneurial mind, that’s willing to work with the system, but also is willing to take some initiative as well.
Why is now the right time to invest in Charleys?
Every brand has its time, its moment. And this is our golden time. We’re not too small. We’re not too big. There’s room for growth. We have 675+ units nationwide, and we have room for 3,000. And we occupy a very special category. There really is no competition. There are regional players, but there’s no major national player that goes against us.
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