The success story of KFC: from the beginning of the journey to the present day
"I never gave up, tried new things and always believed in success" Harland David Sanders
Today, KFC is a world-famous chain of catering restaurants that is loved for its delicious chicken dishes. But before achieving the love of millions of people all over the planet and becoming one of the leaders in the sale of fast food, the company had to overcome a difficult path.
So, how did it all start?
Surely, for many, this brand is associated with a gray-haired man who is found in commercials, restaurant design and branded products. It is he who is the founder of the company, and his name is Harland David Sanders or simply Colonel Sanders.
HISTORY OF THE CREATOR OF KFC
Harland was born in Indiana in 1890. While still a five-year-old boy, he lost his father. The mother spent all her time at work, trying to feed her three children. He was the eldest child, so all the responsibility fell on his shoulders. From an early age, he learned to cook, and in the future this activity became his hobby and vocation throughout his life. When he was 12, his mother remarried. Life with his stepfather turned out to be unbearable – he had to leave school and go to live with his uncle, who got him a job as a conductor.
A few years later, popular unrest began in Cuba against the American occupation, and the government actively collected volunteers for service. Young Sanders forged his date of birth and at the age of 16 he entered the military service. After demobilization, he returned to the United States. Before finding his own business, he managed to work as an assistant in a forge, a train washer, a fireman on the railway, a farmer, an insurance agent, a miner, etc.
ORIGIN OF THE COMPANY
In 1930, when he was already 40 years old, inspired by a statement on the radio that life at this age was just beginning, Sanders decided to open his own business. To do this, he buys a gas station in Corbin, Kentucky, and opens his own cafe, where he sells steaks, country ham and drinks for travelers stopping by. After some time, he begins to expand the restaurant and introduce chicken dishes to the menu. Thanks to his active work, he becomes popular among the local population. And the governor awards him the rank of colonel of Kentucky. After receiving a new status, Harland begins to monitor his image and creates his own unique style, which later became his hallmark.
In 1939, he developed a unique pressure cooker for chicken, which allowed him to use less oil, preserve the structure of the dish and save time. A year later, he came up with a signature recipe for breaded chicken with seasoning of 11 herbs and spices, which is now under the strictest confidence.
When a new highway was built that did not pass through Karbin, the restaurant began to suffer losses due to a lack of customers. Sanders had to sell the business for a penny and start looking for new ways to develop. Despite the fact that at that time he was already 65 years old, and he received a well-deserved pension, he was not going to stop there.
The colonel began to travel around the country looking for franchisees. He offered restaurants to buy his signature recipe, but almost all offers were turned down until Pete Harman crossed his path. It was with him that the first franchise agreement was concluded. Selling Sanders’ recipes tripled the revenue of his restaurants, which also influenced the interest of other restaurateurs.
It was Harman who came up with the idea of selling lunch in a bucket that was filled with 14 pieces of chicken, 5 buns and a pint of sauce. By 1963, under the banner of Kentucky Fried Chicken, 600 restaurants were opened across the country.
Another legendary franchisee whose work helped develop the KFC brand is Dave Thomas. He acquired the rights to sell Kentucky chicken in the 1950s and began to actively promote the idea of "takeaway food." By the way, it was he who first installed a rotating bucket next to his establishment, attracting customers, which later began to be used throughout the network.
SALE OF KFC NETWORK
In 1964, the Colonel decides to sell the ownership of the company to Jack Massey and John Young Brown for $2 million.
The new owners introduced their own rules and standards that all franchisees had to follow. For example, all accompanying dishes were removed from the menu and only original branded products were left, all restaurants acquired a recognizable red and white design today, and the Colonel’s face appeared on signs and packaging.
When it became difficult for Brown to manage the company, he sold it to Heublein Corporation. At this time, the Church’s Chicken competitor chain began to increase its position, and the management decided to introduce barbecue ribs to the menu. They were in demand among buyers, but caused difficulties in organizing work, so they had to be abandoned. The activities of the new leadership were contrary to the views of Sanders, which is reflected in his comments in the press and litigation.
In 1980, the legendary Colonel Sanders passed away at the age of 90. Until the end of his life, he continued to do what he loved and was recognized as one of the most recognizable people in the world.
In 1970-80, the network was actively developing outside the country – in Australia, Japan and the UK.
In 1983, KFC was acquired by the tobacco company RJ Reynolds, and a few years later it was sold to PepsiCo. John Crainor III becomes the new leader, who begins work on restructuring the network: repairing establishments, updating the computer network. Innovations were not always agreed with the franchisee, which led to scandals and litigation, and of course, had a negative impact on development and profit.
In the early 1990s, the company was active in Asia. She achieved particular success in Japan. In the same years, new products were launched that were loved by fast food fans: spicy wings, chicken popcorn, zinger, and a morning menu was also launched. Also, the long name Kentucky Fried Chicken was officially replaced by the abbreviation KFC, and the famous slogan “So good" was coined for it.
However, the competition did not help to achieve high financial performance, and Cranor had to leave the company.
His mission was continued by David Novak. He began work on restoring relations with the franchisee, and in 1976 an agreement was signed under which all outlets received exclusive rights to conduct business within a radius of 1.5 miles.
In 1997, PepsiCo spun off restaurants into a separate organization, Tricon Global Restaurants, later renamed Yum! Brands, which still owns KFC. She also manages such well-known fast food brands as Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. To date, under the leadership of Yum! Brands has more than 21,000 restaurants in more than 130 countries, making it the second largest restaurant after McDonald’s. The largest number of enterprises are in China.
The company is actively developing through franchising and is not going to stop there. Her story, which began as a small roadside cafe, is a great example that motivates aspiring entrepreneurs who dream of their own successful restaurant business. And the KFC franchise allows you to join this great network and become part of its rich history.