Brand Auditing for QSRs

By Brian Harris

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Anyone familiar with our software solution knows that we’re staunch advocates for executing at the store level. But sometimes you need to zoom out and look at the brand itself. You can become too focused on perfecting individual processes that you lose sight of what the processes are designed to accomplish.

Look at each process in your organization as if it’s a piece of a puzzle. When put together, the puzzle creates your brand image. So what does that image look like right now? It is possible to audit your brand just as you would audit at the store level. It comes down to designing a checklist that will help you determine if certain goals are being met.

Here are some questions to consider:

1. What is your brand strategy and brand promise?

This is equivalent to a mission statement. It will vary in wording, but no matter what kind of business you have, it probably should mention what each customer should expect on their next visit.

2. How is your brand positioned?

  • Knowing your market size and competitors.
  • Knowing what you do better than competitors.

3. Who is your typical customer? Does your brand speak to them?

Remember Taco Bell’s 2013 decision to remove their kids’ menu in an effort to focus on their core, Millennial customers. The strategy has been working. Taco Bell saw 8.2% sales growth in 2015—the second strongest performance among chains behind Starbucks, according to Technomic Inc.’s latest report.

4. How do customers perceive your brand?

This is where ­­investing in research can help.­ Unbiased polls and surveys can reveal important perceptions about your brand. It can also serve as a report card for how your brand aligns with its goals.

5. What are your brand elements?

URLs, social media presence, symbols, characters, spokespeople, jingles, slogans, packages and signage. The list goes on. All of these should reflect your brand.

A broader-focused brand audit can point you in the right direction for what you need to fix, but you’ll have to investigate at the store level to find out how the brand is being delivered.

The Measurable Parts of Your Brand Audit

Remember these 5 P’s:

1. Product

If you want to be the best burger joint in your local market, your offerings need to reflect that.

Check for compliance: See if your product is prepared correctly at the store level.

2. Placement

Stores need to be set up according to brand standards.   

Check for compliance: Franchised QSRs should be in compliance for the same tables, chairs, fixtures and art.  This also relates to signage placement and drive-thru operations.

3. Price

To be the best product in town, you have to have competitive prices. This comes down to awareness of competitor pricing.

Check for compliance: A simple photo of menu boards can help verify your pricing strategy across a network.

4. Promotion

The “big picture” aspect of auditing promotions is how you’re promoting, whether it’s TV, radio, or print. Customers expect locations to participate in the promotion, and they expect a similar experience from store to store.

Check signage for compliance: Signage is something that can be verified easily—it’s either present and placed correctly, or it’s not.

5. Property

Nothing can damage your brand faster than a dirty restroom, a sticky floor, or litter on the premises. 

Check for compliance: A thorough property inspection comes down to a good checklist. So maybe you don’t want to share a photo of a toilet. But maybe on your next visit to a store, a regional manager rates what he finds on a scale of 1 to 10 with “10” indicating the highest marks. Any area that gets rated a 5 or lower will be reviewed further.

Be sure to tell store managers and employees what you expect prior to auditing. It’s not about intimidating or micro-managing your staff; it’s about improving communication. Encourage them to provide input on how your brand can improve, and incentivize them to do their part in raising the bar. The brand can only improve when everyone works together in unison.

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