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Franchise Times Names 40 Smartest-Growing Franchises

Dec. 28, 2022

#5 Slim Chickens

Fast-casual chicken restaurants

A lot has changed since Tom Gordon and Greg Smart co-founded their chicken chain in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 2003, and then began franchising in 2013. System sales grew 118.7 percent from 2019 through 2021, to $265 million, and units grew 46.7 percent, to 132. But “there are a lot of things that are the same. I still feel so responsible for all 8,000 people that work for the brand,” said Gordon, CEO. “It’s nice to be in a position of financial strength versus scrambling for the first decade. That’s allowed us to do a lot of great things for our company, our franchisees.” Asked about his philosophy toward driving sustainable growth, he said, “It’s a big question. It’s hard to put that into a short motto. I’ll tell you a couple things I talk about all the time, with my team. Because we’re not as big as some of our competitors we have to go fast. We have to go as fast as we possibly can without taking big risks. And how do you balance speed and giant risk? It’s with using data, utilizing franchisee intel, utilizing local professionals” to put “great restaurants in great places as fast as we possibly can, and get market share.” A mobile loyalty app developed in 2019, coincidentally before COVID, paid off big time for the brand. A minority investment from 10 Point Capital in July 2019 helped shore up the balance sheet. But Slim Chickens’ biggest achievements go beyond single tactics. “Personally, we always think about how we want to be the franchisors the franchisees love, and not have an adversarial relationship, as so many end up having when the company’s been around a long time. Honesty and integrity are the only currencies we have,” Gordon said. “We’re proud of it. We’re proud of the perseverance we’ve shown. We’re proud that we have a great group of franchisees that I think are happy with the brand.”  

To see the full ranking on Franchise Times click here: