Black Entrepreneur Blueprint 523 – Jay Jones – What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Waffle House

Waffle house has become an iconic brand over the years. Since its inception in 1955, it has been in the news for numerous reasons including, its innovation, discrimination charges, and fights.

Join Jay as he discusses eight important lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Waffle House and how to leverage them for success.



Waffle House was opened in 1955 by Joe Rogers and Tom Forkner. Rogers’s concept was to combine the speed of fast food with table service with around-the-clock availability. Forkner suggested naming the restaurant “Waffle House”, as waffles were the most profitable item on the 16-item menu.

  • The company claims to be the world’s largest seller of several of its menu items—the namesake waffles, ham, pork chops, grits, and T-bone steaks.
  • It also claims that it serves 2% of all eggs in the U.S.
  • Believed to generate over a billion dollars a year and has over 2000 locations.
  • If you took all the sausage Pattie’s sold by Waffle House in a single day and stacked them on top of each other it would be 4X the height of the Empire State Building

What Can Entrepreneurs Learn From Waffle House?

1  Know Your Concept & Your Customers – Their concept is to combine the speed of fast food with table service. Many of the locations are located off major interstates and highways that attract travelers and the after-hours crowd.

Rogers said, “We are in the people business not the food business.” – That’s why they say hello and the store concept is open, which allows you to see and speak with all the staff.

2  Get In Front Of Your Ideal Traffic – Waffle Houses are strategically placed in high-traffic locations to maximize their signage (where there’s traffic there’s money).

3  Does Not Advertise – Waffle House spends zero dollars on advertising. The visibility is their advertising – their big yellow signs on the highway and their yellow buildings. (Just think about the small local stores you may see in a village or town and you decide to go in and buy something. They did no advertising but because you saw them you have the opportunity to purchase from them). They let the experience and word-of-mouth speak for themselves.

4  Create A Clear Brand Identification – that customers recognize (bright yellow sign and use of the color yellow), know, and understand.

5  Be Accessible And Available – All Waffle Houses are easily accessible from major highways or main roads and they are open 24/7 365. They are so committed to being open that each location has backup generators to stay open during disasters.

6  Systematic Growth Plan – After the fourth corporate restaurant they started franchising and currently have 2,000 stores. You can’t apply to be a franchisor; you have to be selected. Duplicatable system includes the look and feel of each location.

7  Created Proprietary Systems – Use a marking system to signal chefs what they need to cook next like a packet of grape jelly on the plate telling the chef they need white toast, a mustard packet means pork chop, a butter packet means waffle. The position and orientation of the items also mean other things: for example, if you put grape jelly on the right side of the plate it means a sausage omelet. All businesses need a sales system, a fulfillment system, and a referral system to start.

8  Control – Waffle House is a privately owned business.


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