In this interview with William “Bill” Chemero – Chief Development Officer, we discuss Wayback Burgers continued growth, how the brand competes successfully in an increasingly crowded market, the importance of developing a company culture, delivering fast food customers want and stunning results. His answers should be of interest to entrepreneurs, operators, investors and even most value-seekers.
Wayback Burgers originally known as Jake’s Hamburgers started as a small town hamburger joint and now can be found in over 35 states and developing in 16 countries. The first restaurant opened in Newark, Delaware in 1991 and we began offering franchise opportunities in 2008. Starting with the 10 original locations there are now over 170 restaurants worldwide. Wayback Burgers’ continued success stands on menu diversity, world class support, flexibility, and putting the Guest first. We pride ourselves on our evolving culture – incorporating good old-fashioned values of hard work, guest service, and unrivaled franchisee support while leaning toward the future with technological advances that solidify us as an industry leader.
The brand was already existing but was not growing, My partner John Eucalitto and I bought the brand and have since grown it to it’s current level of success.
Originally called Jakes Hamburgers then changed to Jake’s Wayback Burgers after we begun franchises and expanded across the US. A name chosen to represent our mission and a feeling of nostalgia of a 50s diner with some on trend components. Later we changed the name to Wayback Burgers and dropped the name “Jake” to have a more modern feel while to bringing people back to the days they remember.
Changing the logo from Jake’s to Wayback left us with the nostalgia of going Wayback to a simpler time but brought a modern sense to the brand.
Burger restaurant franchise opportunities are popular and varied in the fast-casual dining market, but Wayback offers many benefits to prospective partners that make us unique. With a 30+ year history our honest and uncomplicated brand provides entrepreneurs and investors the confidence to start something new while being able to rely on the support and experience of an established system.
For our master franchisees we look for someone who aligns with our core values first. Then we look for someone who has the business acumen and experience to step into the franchisor’s development role for a specific country/territory. This individual needs to be financial capable as well as well connected in their territory to build relationships with restaurant suppliers.
We have an extensive validation process that allows our master franchise candidates to speak to our existing master franchisees about their experience.
One of the biggest challenges for me was the decision to take our brand to the next level and start our Master Franchisee program. As a US brand we knew what we had was great but in order to take that over to other countries we needed a strong plan to ensure our brand helped no matter the location. We did make the choice to franchise internationally and it was a great decision and we have many successful master franchisees in 16 countries.
All of our master franchisees relationships are unique and special to us, however for me, it was the friendship and ongoing relationship with our Japanese master franchisee that stands out.
Each day I wake up excited to talk to new people and meet people like me who want to own a business and grow. I always start my day following up with new franchise inquiries as I look for the right person to expand our brand internationally and with the goal to help that individual fulfill their business goals.
After many successful years of helping build concepts for other people, making the decision to take the challenge of building my own concept.
In 2008 I did just that and it was the best decision in my franchising career.
In 2022 we opened in Japan and South Africa and signed new Master Agreements in Dominican Republic and Canada. Over the next 5 years we expect to continue accelerated growth putting the right partners in place to expand the brand and continue to drive international success.
Franchising is built on a system of proven success. Accept support from the franchisor and follow the system that was built. Put in the work to uphold the brand standards and core values and that will drive growth and success. The comment I hear over and over again is “I wish I had done this sooner”.
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