Élodie FEL, BChef

Élodie Fel

Expansion & Construction Manager FranceBChef

Could you introduce your company?

Created in 2015, Bchef is a “fast-casual” fast-food chain established in France with 65 restaurants. We offer an alternative between traditional restaurants and fast-food joints in the French Premium Burger segment. Our offer also includes numerous other trendy products like our incredible Crinkle fries, bagels, hot dogs, salads, pastries, a whole range of hot and cold beverages, for the most part homemade. Our goal is to attract upmarket customers from traditional fast-food restaurants and to offer a great alternative at an attractive price in the architectural comfort of an American brasserie.

What does your role as an Expansion Manager consist of?

As a franchisor, our role is to help and advise project holders in order to make the opening of their restaurant a success. My job is to assist candidates from the moment they start looking for a location to the beginning of construction work. This is a very cross-functional role that goes through all the steps in the process of opening a new restaurant: search for new locations, financial analysis, negotiation, legal deal with vendors and brokers, setting up and carrying the bank documents with all the accounting and legal parties involved…

I also have to monitor the retro planning of the projects and make sure all bank documents and planning documents have been correctly deposited.

Once the financing for the works has been approved, we begin the final and definitive signing of the lease for the location. In the meantime, we will have made sure that the franchisee has placed all orders with our approved suppliers and has prepared the retro planning for the works with their master builder. From the moment when the franchisee and their master builder take over the location, I take a step back and make sure that the works go smoothly by remaining attentive to the franchisee’s needs. Then, our field consultants take over to assist the franchisee with the opening of the restaurant. My work can last from 9 months to 2 years depending on how much time is necessary to carry out a project.

What are your challenges in 2024?

The last three years of crisis have enabled us to develop a much more solid and resilient business model. The various restaurant chains or independent-owned restaurants that have been liquidated have raised the alarm. We have learned to channel our network by closely monitoring our margins and optimising our rate management.

Our current main challenge is to develop the brand awareness to a large scale through a strong media presence on TV and social networks. Our first actions are starting to pay off as we are observing an increase in the number of people going to our restaurants and an increase in the franchise applications. We need to continue our marketing efforts and investments in terms of development to gain market share.

Our goal for 2024 is to get back to our pre-COVID pace of openings, that is to say 15 openings this year and to move towards 20-25 openings from 2025 with the expansion of my team.

What are you using Codata Explorer for?

I use the Codata solution once the location of new restaurant is qualified. The solution allows to understand its environment. I look into footfall data; I compare several addresses on the map and I observe the “warm” zones in the restaurant sector. I also look into the history of the location, using the available photos, to see if there’s ever been a restaurant there before which should make it easier to adapt the location.

This rich source of information needs to be used wisely and with common sense in order to obtain a proper analysis of the attractiveness of the location. I generally cross-reference this data with the field, and I have noticed that I have saved a lot of time in preparing my tour plan using Codata.

What are the main strengths of the Codata solution?

Codata is truly a great tool to prepare an analysis strategy of a city. Being able to consult the cartographic interface is really helpful. All the colours allow to quickly identify “warm” and “cold” zones as well as other centres of activity. Then, I can easily find the areas with the best footfall and compare them.  

What’s more, the data linked to a location is also appreciable, in particular the ability to identify the lessor’s contact, when the latter is declared. The history of the location is also an interesting piece of information for us. It is a significant help in preparing the conversion of the location into a restaurant. Finally, another strong point of the solution is the empty retail location section, which alerts you in real time to any insolvency proceedings or company transfers. The solution allows us to combine city analysis and real estate prospecting in a single tool, which is perfectly suited to our business needs.