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Shuckin’ Shack CEO Shares the Secret Behind Our Impressive Management of the Inflation Crisis

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Our seafood menu is so impressive at Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar that you have to wonder how we can find sustainably-sourced fresh seafood without inflated prices. If you want to find quality seafood ingredients, you’d need to handle it all except for the actual fishing, and even then, you probably won’t save very much at the end of the day.

So, the question we ask ourselves is this: how are restaurants managing the sudden inflation that has everyone guessing where it’ll all end? The answers we discovered may come as a surprise, so that’s a major reason why we always help our seafood restaurant Franchise Owners with procurement, especially now that inflation is rising worldwide – and no one knows how far it’ll go over the next few years.

The great news is that Shuckin’ Shack’s Franchise Owners are prepared for long-term success, thanks to our partnership with one of the best supply chain management companies in the country.

Got inflation anxiety? Say goodbye to uncertainty when you open up a Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar Franchise!

We can get fresh, sustainably sourced seafood to every location we run because we have a reliable supply chain partner. That’s really what helps all of our Franchise Owners stay ahead of increasing inflation. We partnered with an industry-leading supply chain management company: Stevens Food Group, the foremost food-service distribution and purchasing team with more than $250 million in annual purchases for many brands, even Shuckin’ Shack.

We depend on their extensive expertise and their network of distributors and vendors, which allows them to fulfill orders on time and on schedule. It’s not so easy to find this level of consistent service, and it has tremendous value for Franchise Owners with not a lot of experience with controlling food costs. The bottom line is that all prices are rising; everything from pampers to auto parts now costs more than just one year ago.

If you ask us, it’s pretty much the same thing you’re seeing at the grocery store or at the gas pump; the difference lies in how it affects food cost. Many vendors are removing items or not fulfilling large orders as they used to. It’s not a question of will; it’s a matter of a snarled supply chain with cascading economic impacts. A great seafood franchise is resilient to inflation, but it’s not immune to price swings. Everything is getting more expensive across the board, and it’s rising faster than we initially planned. 

The consumer price index has accelerated more than  7% since last year, and it’s currently the highest it has been since 1982. We expect rising prices to be an issue for other restaurants but not us because we planned well ahead of time.

Inflation concerns affect everyone on the supply chain

So how do we help new Franchise Owners through these unprecedented times? It’s not as if food distributors are purposely shorting orders and taking items off shelves. The issue is that there isn’t enough product in the first place, so distributors have had no other option but to discontinue or pull products. We don’t want that to happen to our Franchise Owners if a vital ingredient to a centerpiece menu item is suddenly unavailable.

The crux of the issue, according to John Pizzola, Director of Procurement and New Business at Stevens Food Group,  is that there isn’t enough labor to keep up with demand at each stage. Thus, labor-intensive products – or ingredients that require further processing – are more expensive today. He explains, “Not only does [the breakdown of the supply chain] start with the manufacturing and the ports, but it also filters down to the distribution as well- the pickers, the drivers, the warehouse employees- not only the labor shortages but the increase in wages that they’re having to pay these employees to come to work and stay at work.”

Seafood franchise having an amazing year in 2021

So, what are restaurant owners to do?

The good news is that we have the systems and processes in place to manage inflation no matter how high it goes in the next few months or even years. Without a partner to keep inflation in check, you won’t have any other options but to deal with inflated prices and pass along the increase to your customers. At Shuckin’ Shack, we do everything we can to avoid that.

Otherwise, you’ll be contributing to the shrink-flation craze and have no choice but to offer smaller portion sizes. As Patrick Stevens, Executive Vice President of Stevens Food Group, notes, “Inflation is the sexy word, but shrink-flation is the lesser-known cousin that is just as dangerous.” Shrink is an easy business solution, but you’re doing more harm than good if your guests think you’re getting cheap with food stock. Quality still matters when it comes to ingredients regardless of inflation pressures.

But we can help you with a solid seafood distribution process, so you’ll have much more leeway in what you can offer guests. Our menu is awesome at Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar, but the ability that Franchise Owners have to adapt to their individual market with daily chalkboard specials featuring regional favorites helps meet consumers where they are, regardless of their geographic location.

Staying ahead of the inflation curve won’t be easy for most restaurants. Yet, our group of Franchise Owners at Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar will have a significant advantage in procurement and distribution because of the well-thought-out, insightful processes and partnerships the brand has had in place long before the pandemic.

Working with Stevens Food Group allows the brand to minimize price increases because the items were sourced at market price prior to 2020. From day one, Stevens has been open and honest with us about the challenges they face and how we can all work together to batten down the hatches if the inflation storm turns into a full-blown hurricane.

Ultimately, we know that the best way to fight inflation is to have a solid supply chain you can count on. While you may experience moderate price fluctuations due to unexpected conditions, using a purchasing manager or supply chain management company mitigates most of the pendulum swing pricing that ultimately confuses customers. Restaurant patrons these days expect a quality dining experience, and that’s precisely where Shuckin’ Shack steps to the forefront.

Interested in learning more about owning a Shuckin’ Shack seafood restaurant franchise? Visit our franchise website for more details.