Boston Market Bounces Back

Positive sales growth leads the chain to open the first new location in seven years

Randy Miller has been with Boston Market since 1994 and has seen the company weather a turbulent few decades. Now he’s confident the company is set for responsible growth.

Randy Miller has been through a lot of ups and downs in his two decades with Boston Market Corporation, but he believes the current upswing is permanent. “After George Michel joined the company in October of 2010, we began to implement some changes, and those changes resulted in 34 consecutive months of positive sales growth,” says Miller, who in his dual role as general counsel and chief administrative officer oversees both the legal department and the human resources, benefits and compensation, real estate, design and construction, property administration, and loss-prevention teams. 

Miller joined Boston Market’s predecessor, Boston Chicken, in 1994, just after it went public. The subsequent years were challenging, with a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing (the result of debt caused by rapid growth), two sales, and a recession. However, in May of 2010, with the economy recovering, Boston Market began to identify the changes that would need to be made in order for the chain to resonate with guests, such that when Michel joined later that year, it was full steam ahead.

Miller has contributed in large part to this effort. “He’s an exceptional general counsel, but he works hard to find a balance between protecting the company’s legal interest and enhancing the guest experience to grow revenue,” says Michael Gray, an attorney with law firm Jones Day, who has worked with Miller a great deal on complex employment work.

The way in which Miller has found creative ways to provide a better guest experience is unusual for a general counsel, Gray says. “Boston Market has been very nimble, listening to the guest experience, then tailoring changes around it,” he says.

As an example, Gray points to the company’s goal of providing fresh-cooked food. “There’s a great deal of strategy involved, and if you get that wrong, you either have tremendous waste or people don’t have food,” he says. “You can’t just throw a rotisserie chicken in the microwave.”

In addition to enhancing the customer experience, Boston Market is committed to providing more nutritious options for its guests. In recognition of this, the company is a member of the National Restaurant Association’s Healthy Dining “Kids Live Well” program, which selects restaurants that provide healthier options to children. More than 100 meal combinations are available at fewer than 550 calories, and Boston Market provides many options for those who are gluten intolerant, including its signature rotisserie chicken, turkey, and a variety of sides. The company also made the decision to remove saltshakers from tables and committed to reducing sodium in its foods by 15 percent.

After two years of positive sales growth, the company began looking to expand. In September of 2013, Boston Market opened its first restaurant in seven years in Hialeah, Florida. Part of Miami-Dade County, this area, alongside New York City, is the best-performing market for the chain.

The company is also looking to expand into nontraditional venues, such as airports, universities, and food courts in large regional shopping malls. “You see a lot of fried foods in those locations, particularly food courts, but if you want something healthy, your only option is often a salad,” Miller says. “We think we have a unique product offering in that you can get great, wholesome food quickly.”

Boston Market has also signed an agreement with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to potentially put Boston Market in military installations around the world. “We’re very excited about the opportunities to take our brand to the men and women who serve our country, and we’ll have a long productive relationship with the Exchange Service,” Miller says.

“That enthusiasm is totally in character for Miller,” adds Gray. “Randy feels tremendous loyalty to the team at Boston Market, from the people at the top to the people behind the counter, and is doing everything he can to preserve it.”