Everything at Burger Wisconsin is crafted: real ingredients, carefully chosen and hand-made

Everything at Burger Wisconsin is crafted: real ingredients, carefully chosen and hand-made

Burger Wisconsin’s new flagship store is proving that people will pay for quality

New Zealand’s oldest gourmet burger franchise has just opened a brand new store in Tauranga – and it’s a hit. ‘We achieved the highest first-week sales for any Burger Wisconsin ever,’ says Conor Kerlin, the CXO (Chief Experience Officer) for the brand. ‘But the best bit was hearing so many customers say things like, “Hey, it tastes so good... The place looks amazing… We are so glad to have you back!” 

Burger Wisconsin opened in 1989 and eventually had over 30 franchises around the country, but stagnated in recent years before being acquired by Mariposa Restaurant Holdings, the company behind Mexicali Fresh, in 2015. 

‘We saw so much potential in the brand because it was so good in the first place,’ says Conor. ‘Burger Wisconsin has always sought to stay true to its principles with franchisees working locally to produce tasty gourmet burgers from fresh and healthy local produce, and that’s more relevant to today’s customers than ever. The soul and ethics were solid, so we wanted to create a new vibe and make Burger Wisconsin attractive to a new generation, as well as more profitable for franchisees.’ 

what makes it so good?

MRH took its time to understand what made Burger Wisconsin tick and what was really needed in both design and operational terms. ‘Then, once we’d really got to grips with it, we tasked Dylan du Plessis of Luc Design to re-vision the brand,’ Conor says. 

‘Having worked with Conor on Mexicali Fresh, the chance to take on a much-loved brand like Burger Wisconsin was too good to miss,’ says Dylan. ‘We started by asking what makes it work and why are the products so good? We realised that there are many great aspects but they weren’t being properly communicated, so we needed to bring them to the fore. This meant creating a visual identity as the face of the new brand that reflected all the elements that make it stand out from the competition. 

‘This took a lot of effort to synthesise into one picture. Yes, we need to tell everyone about the quality of the food, but there’s more. Each store has a personal identity stamped on it by the franchisee. Our job was to give each store a face that assures a customer of consistency of product and service while allowing the individuality of each franchisee to shine through.’ 

crafting the new look

The process of refreshing the Burger Wisconsin fit-out and offering is already under way in many of the 22 stores nationwide, and franchisees are seeing increased sales (and increased profitability) as they attract old fans back and create new fans. But in Tauranga, the team was starting with a blank canvas. 

‘It wasn’t about putting a new face on an existing outlet, it was about saying, “This is what Burger Wisconsin is now” and communicating what we want to express in the future. We wanted to showcase the aspect of the franchise that I call craft. Everything at Burger Wisconsin is crafted: real ingredients, carefully chosen and hand-made with care. 

‘Capturing the authenticity of the brand meant, for example, using real wood in the design and not images of wood. That would have been a shortcut,’ says Dylan forcefully. ‘We felt it very important the impressions customers were left with should be as authentic as everything else. A wonderful part of the process was seeing just how much the team, led by Conor, bought into the creative. They were on site throughout the process, building, painting, making pictures and training – again demonstrating the craft the chain nurtures.’ 

new outlets available now

With the new Tauranga store already setting new records for the brand, it’s clear that Burger Wisconsin is on the right track once more. ‘We knew it would be a long journey, but the aim was to invest in the core of the brand in order to make a solid base from which to grow,’ says Conor. ‘This was never about a lick of paint and a new sign; it was always about a clear message for the future – “Hey! We’re back!”’ 

Burger Wisconsin is now looking for people to open new outlets all around the country. ‘Tauranga is already showing that there’s a huge appetite for our craft food out in new markets, and sales are up across the country as people catch on to our fresh new look. We have many exciting new sites in the works, too, with investment levels ranging from $350,000 to $400,000 depending on location. Much of this can be financed. 

do something different

‘We don’t need chefs, or people with hospitality experience, although if they have the passion we would love to hear from them. What we want most is people who want to do something different with their lives and can see we offer a great product, a great model and the opportunity to build their own destiny. So if you’d like to discuss your next career move, give us a call. If you are the right fit, we’ll do everything we can to help you succeed.’   

18 September 2017
Franchise New Zealand Magazine