Lenny’s Sub Shop: Offering More Food, More Taste, More Personality

Lenny’s Sub Shop was founded in Bartlett, Tenn. (a suburb of Memphis), because founder Len Moore, originally from Philadelphia, missed his native city’s cheesesteak subs and wanted to share the authentic, hot-off-the-grill experience. Moore – who worked his way through the food service industry from busboy to dishwasher to server to general manager – had run a similar concept on the boardwalk in Wildwood, N.J., as well as directed operations for several independent restaurants and establishing franchises, before moving south with his wife in 1998. What started as one restaurant quickly flourished due to demand for the generous quantity of high-quality meats and cheeses that are still trademarks on an authentic, freshly baked and assembled-to-order Lenny’s sub.
Brent Alvord, the company's current president, outlines Lenny’s rapid expansion. “Lenny started franchising the operation in ’01, and in late 2004 a group of investors led by my father [George Alvord] purchased the company. There were 43 franchises at that time. We invested a large amount of capital and focused on expanding the franchise. Six years later we have over 150 franchises in 19 states. The key for us has been ensuring that our franchises have a lot of support.”
As a testament to the quality of and care put into the Lenny's Sub Shop franchise network, Moore himself was inspired to buy back in when he moved to Houston, Texas, in 2005, and he played an important role on the Lenny's Sub Shop Franchise Advisory Council prior to his passing away in 2008.
From Lease to Key
Potential franchises owners really receive a large amount of resources and support to ensure the franchise flourishes, as Alvord details. “All of our franchise owners attend a six-week course introducing them to Lenny’s products and services. We also have a customized Point-Of-Sales (POS) system that we built from scratch. In addition to sales data, it has a great reporting function that can tell owners current sales data for each item in the store. We also have what we call a lease-to-key program. It allows owners to focus on their training, while we take care of the construction management. New owners don’t have to deal with contractors, bids, etc.”
Additionally, new owners are networked in with area support staff that provides feedback and advice after the store has been built. One means that has been found to immediately establish a presence has been through opening promotions. Alvord describes one of Lenny’s more recent openings. “We just launched a new store in Kentucky. On opening day we gave the first 50 customers free subs for a year. We also lowered the price of all the subs to $3.00 for a day. It created a huge amount of brand awareness.”
Even with a large amount of support and feedback, even the most well-run franchises are destined to fail if the product doesn’t appeal to consumers. Thankfully, Lenny’s continues to maintain its dedication to quality products. “One of the biggest differences between Lenny’s and a traditional sub shop is that all of our sandwiches are sliced to order.  If a customer orders a turkey sandwich, we slice it right on to their sub, deli-style.  Each of our regular-sized subs comes with about a half-of-a-pound of fresh meat and cheese; the large comes with a full pound. It’s completely different in terms of perception and content. Our best-selling sandwich, our Philly cheesesteak, delivers an authentic Philly experience.”
Everyone Knows Your Name
In addition to making excellent subs, Alvord is proud to note that Lenny’s stores are unique in their dedication towards creating an environment where customers want to be. “The key to a Lenny’s experience is in our motto: More Food, More Taste, More Personality. We train employees to have shining personalities. We encourage them to learn the name of the guests when they come in. It’s like that TV show “Cheers,” where everyone knows your name. Also, unlike other stores, we don’t call our customers guests and leave it at that. You won’t find a single trash can in any of the dining areas in our stores. If you’re at a Lenny’s, you’re our guest and we’ll take care of the trash.”
The management at Lenny’s continues to come up with new ways to enhance a diner’s experience. “We just launched a new loyalty card. We call it our ‘Sub’stantial Rewards Program. It’s similar to other companies' paper buy nine subs get your tenth sub free, but ours is electronic. It minimizes fraud, which helps the bottom of line of our franchise owners, but it also allows our guests to track their purchases online and if they lose the card, we can re-issue a new one based off of their phone number.  We also just rolled out all new magnetic menu boards, which allow for a lot more flexibility in content and prices,” says Alvord.
While Lenny’s Sub Shop locations are currently located throughout the southeastern, southwestern and midwestern portions of America, Lenny’s has plans to grow aggressively across the country in the next few years.  With the company’s dedication to customer service and quality products, and its well-established franchise support program, the Lenny’s Sub Shop Deli Fresh Experience is sure to provide a wow to guests everywhere.