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Started back in 1941, Dickey’s Barbecue has grown tremendously moving from a single smoker to 550 locations across the world. While the business has changed hands across 3 generations, a culture of innovation has remained a constant resulting in tremendous growth of the business. This continuous growth led to a corporate restructure that saw Laura Rea Dickey take over as CEO of the Dickey’s restaurant business.

Laura who had joined the business as a marketing and communications consultant earlier, was now charged with chartering a new path for the business.Under her reign, the company continued to innovate and change with a clear intent on turning marketing information into growth for the business. Among the notable changes made was the adoption of different recipes to cater for regional ideas of comfort foods. Laura also oversaw the introduction of the Barbecue-U training program which ensures a homogeneous customer experience across all locations.

However, Laura’s greatest impact is felt in the way the business manages information. Among her notable changes is the adoption of the proprietary system Smoke-stack which has revolutionized the fast-casual sector. Under her stewardship, the company has introduced the third-party delivery model, launched a consumer app, and introduced Amazon’s Alexa in restaurant operations.

When the Corona virus hit, Laura oversaw the rapid development of an online ordering system and shifted a bulk of their marketing budget to online channels. This move proved crucial in ensuring the business not only survived but thrived as well.  Dickey’s also cut franchise royalties by 50%ensuring the company kept to its purpose statement, to do both well and good in communities we do business in. The company also introduced the first responder sandwich pack to show solidarity with first line workers.

Laura’s achievements in transforming the fast casual sector and expanding Dickey’s brand has been lauded by key industry players. Both Forbes and the wall street Journal profiled Smoke stack pointing at just how influential a CEO she’s been.

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