Meet Our Team: Wendy Koonce, Director of Marketing

This month we are starting a monthly series where we feature one of our team members who either works for our Shuckin’ Shack Corporate team or a Shuckin’ Shack franchisee or one of their staff. We kick-off this new series with our Director of Marketing at the Shuckin’ Shack Franchising offices in Wilmington, Wendy Koonce. Wendy is responsible for helping all our restaurants succeed in their local markets and on social media. Here’s our interview with one of Shuckin’ Shack Franchising most loyal employees:

Q1:  How long have you worked for Shucking Shack Franchising, and what was your work history prior to joining them?

I joined the Shuckin' Shack team in October 2014.  Prior to this awesome experience, I was able to gain 15+ years of marketing experience through various fields.  After graduating from Marshall University (Go Herd), I began immediately working with Weight Watchers of WV, KY, OH, and TN as the Assistant Marketing Director.  I decided to head south and live at the beach where I began working in the newspaper industry as a Managing Editor and Lead Graphic Designer and moved on to the real estate industry for a leading home-builder as the Director of Marketing.  Which brings me to where I am now, growing and leading the brand with our Shack family.

Q2: How does your position as Director of Marketing help Shuckin' Shack franchisees become more successful?

Being the Director of Marketing means so many things, but above all it means creating a clear and consistent brand message through our campaigns.  We pride ourselves in living that message through our exceptional service, and quality of our food, drinks, and our welcoming hospitality in every location. To achieve this, we focus our marketing efforts in three areas: National, Digital, and Local.  On the national level everyone follows suit.  All national marketing comes to you directly from the corporate office with the intent to build our brand.  Digital marketing is teamed together with our national efforts and local efforts for recognition and growth on a local level.  Local marketing is at your doorstep; It’s what we expect you to do with the assistance from us.  It’s being the face of your local restaurant and brand by supporting and being well known in the community.  All of these areas turn full circle to drive new customers, retain customers, and generate excitement around our brand. 

Q3: Given your experience with all existing franchisees, can you list a few traits that might help identify a successful future franchisee for "The Shack"?

In terms of marketing, a successful future franchisee would be eager and ready to be a brand ambassador for Shuckin' Shack! Someone to become the face of their restaurant, to be a staple in their community and become involved, to also create an environment that is welcoming to all guests, and one who is willing to communicate with our team and their staff on a regular basis.  

Q4: What aspect of the Shuckin' Shack Oyster Bar has changed most since you joined the team? 

Oh wow, this question has so many answers - but it's all for the great of the company.  When I came on board four years ago, we did not quite have our brand identity solidified.  But after a couple of years, several meetings and brainstorming sessions, we have truly created recognizable brand that is easy to market to so many. 

Q5: Marketing restaurants in 2018 has changed dramatically over the past several years: In your opinion, what should prospective Shuckin' Shack franchisees be prepared for - to market their restaurant businesses successfully? 

Social, Digital and Word of Mouth.  While print ads, radio, billboards and TV to market your restaurant are still great avenues to use, social and digital are the forefront now.  These two areas are always going to be changing and are going to require exciting, relatable content.  Word of mouth is the oldest marketing strategy in the book and it is always going to be.  As a franchisee, you have to create an atmosphere that brings your guests back.  If you focus on these three areas, you will create a successful strategy for your restaurant. 

Q6: When a brand new Shuckin' Shack Oyster Bar opens, what kind of retail marketing resources are provided by you and your team? 

Operations and Marketing work hand-in-hand providing our franchisees with quarterly and monthly marketing directives.  These will include limited time menu offers, social media campaigns, visual handouts, any tools that we feel necessary to operate and build your business is included in these directives.  Collectively, we gain customers and attention outside our doors with eye-catching food and drink photography.  We provide that as well, branded and ready to use.  All our photography and graphic design is completed in house and is looked at from marketing and operations; we take both into consideration for ease of franchisee success!

Q7: With a dozen restaurants operating today, what do the next three years look like when it comes to growth for "The Shack"? 

I see excitement with the future!  Our growth is going to be steady and manageable over the next three years.  Each franchisee that we bring to our team is as important as the next and as our growth continues to happen, we will make sure that we are ready for it. 

Q8:  Given your involvement with training new franchisees and their staff, does having a background in the food service industry serve as a benefit or hindrance when attending “Shuck U” training and the daily operation of a Shuckin' Shack restaurant franchise

When it comes to day-to-day knowledge and industry terms, of course having a food service background is beneficial.  But, with how we have our training staged and established, if you do not have that background, you will learn “The Shack” way.  We stand behind our Shuck U practices and they are great for anyone with the passion and drive to owning a restaurant. 

We greatly appreciate Wendy’s dedication to the Shuckin’ Shack brand and to supporting our franchisees! Our franchise team is actively planning for Midwest expansion in 2019. We are currently seeking a multi-unit franchisee for the Columbus, Ohio market. If you have an interest in serving the thousands of sports fans and seafood lovers in Columbus, visit this special page to watch our brief video and request our free franchise information kit today!

Shuckin’ Shack’s Director of Marketing, Wendy Koonce, and her new marketing assistant named Bryson!