For Slim Chickens, the bar was set when franchising began nearly a decade ago—reach 600 locations by 2025.
The proclamation was injected with more life after an equity investment in 2019 from 10 Point Capital, a firm that also backs fast-growing Walk-On’s, which saw its unit count expand by nearly 40 percent in 2020, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe, a chain that recently exceeded 1,000 stores.
“We really were able to speed up franchising and speed up franchise development,” says Tom Gordon, who co-founded the chain in 2003 with Greg Smart. “It allowed us to recruit more, hire more people, not be as constrained budget-wise when it came to payroll and executives and hiring and travel, and allowed us to really start moving around the country and doing the things we needed to do as a franchisor to really grow the business.”
But as Gordon explains, 150-unit Slim Chickens—QSR’s Breakout Brand of the Year for 2021—already “had a good fire going” before 10 Point Capital entered the business. The investment was really just a matter of pouring gasoline on the flames.
The Fayetteville, Arkansas-based fast casual grew from a little more than a dozen units in 2014 to north of 80 when the investment occurred. In 2015, the brand had 46 franchise commitments, and that expanded to 112, 180, 235, 334, and 477 over the next five years. Slim Chickens finished 2021 with more than 750 commitments and over 50 franchise groups.