Mr. Ellish, 39, sees Boston Chicken as more than a competitor in the rotisserie chicken market; he describes the restaurants as retail food stores, where consumers go for "freshly prepared, convenient meals."
This positioning, executed by the "freshest thing going" campaign from Bayer Bess Vanderwarker, Chicago, allows Boston Chicken to charge more than its competitors. "We are not a discounter," Mr. Ellish says.
The chain hasn't yet released same-store sales figures-the true measure of fast-food success-but 1993 earnings were $1.6 million, from a loss of $5.9 million in 1992.
For the last two years, Mr. Ellish has commuted from his home in Orlando, Fla., to Boston Chicken's headquarters in the western suburbs of Chicago. The commute will end when both move to a permanent home in Denver this fall.
But the marketing chief will remain a traveling man, hitting the road to"build good relationships with TV stations" across the U.S., important allies when opening new markets for the chain.
Even with frequent traveling, however, Mr. Ellish is never out of touch with colleagues. Boston Chicken's home office and its 30 area developers stay in touch quite easily by computer; anyone in the system can access marketing or operations plans to update information or make suggestions.
"We try to be on the leading edge of communications technology," he says. "Cutting out time and allowing good minds to interact is a real point of difference."