Get to know Nick Keenan, CEO of Red Rooster

The executive looks to capitalise on their innovative channels during a "transformative" phase for the brand.

QSR Media: What makes you excited about your position?

I get excited by a dynamic fast-paced work environment that is constantly changing, so to be able to work in an industry like QSR is a dream. I get my fix for transformative need and product differentiation that has become so important to me in the work that I have done throughout my career.

Like technology, QSR iterates so quickly and I get to lean into the changes it creates and do so through leading an iconic brand like Red Rooster. It is genuinely a once in a lifetime opportunity and I get excited by tinkering, evolving and innovating a brand that is yet to reach its full potential. That is a wonderful and addictive headspace to be in as you get up each day and you “run to work”.

QSR Media: What are your key business philosophies?

  • Hire, Retain and Enable great talent that challenges you
  • Simplicity – If it becomes complicated then start again
  • Authenticity – Be open and honest
  • Identify the problem you’re trying to solve and be consistent in your policy to solve it
  • Always have a sense of fun and never lose the childlike wonder that challenges the underlying orthodoxy – as Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying “It aint what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

QSR Media: What goals are you focused on?
Making sure my team, our franchisee partners and the wonderful talent we have working in all our restaurants are solely focused on creating simple, delicious and fun food experiences for our customers. If we execute that policy successfully in everything we do, then the rest will come!

QSR Media: What long-term changes are you planning on?
We have achieved a lot of success in recent years as there has been some strong growth, particularly in the more innovative channels of our business, like delivery, so we plan to capitalise on that success and keep doing what has worked well.

However, we have entered into an aggressive transformative phase so we are certainly focussed on laying the foundations of our future growth, differentiating our product and resetting the brand. Underneath those high-level strategic pillars, our long term plans include New Product Development (NPD) that concentrates on our core protein (chicken), increasing franchisee profitability and building a lot more positive brand equity in what is already a very well-known brand.

QSR Media: What previous positions have prepared you for this one and how?
That’s a great question! There are always transferrable skills from one position, industry and/or experience to another and they all help to some degree, but nothing replaces surrounding yourself with smart, engaged and experienced subject matter experts no matter what position, role or industry you move into – that is always the constant recipe for success.

Actually, my time spent in hospitality as a bartender taught me the critical importance of operations at peak times, stock control and how all this leads to great customer service.
The multiple management and leadership positions I have held over 15 years in advertising have taught me everything from P&L control, stakeholder management, authentic leadership and of course what generates and satisfies consumer demand.

Finally, the leadership positions I’ve held in the gaming and entertainment industry have provided me with strategic, technical and commercial skillsets.
All of these positions, experiences, successes (and of course failures along the way) are the things I draw on each and every day in leading a talented team and terrific franchisee partners. 

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