There's a Better Way for Global Franchises to Communicate

By Brian Harris

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Arby’s is planning an expansion into Canada.

Grimaldi’s pizza expands to United Arab Emirates.

Carl’s Jr. opens its first location in Chile.

Papa John’s plans to open 20 stores in Morocco.

These are just some of the global franchising news we’ve encountered in the last few weeks. It’s truly amazing what globalization and high-speed communication has done to the food franchisee community, and it’s evident in the bold overseas expansion plans of some top companies.

When it comes to overseas expansion, you often hear about the parent company partnering with a locally-based franchise development company. This locally based company helps the brand transition to that particular market, especially with communicating to staff.

While it’s important to take local customs and culture into account, there are just some aspects of a brand that can’t be compromised—much like a language that must be translated. Here are three of those values that are pretty standard across the industry:

  1. A clean and inviting dining experience

-> The global franchisor will have to abide by rules and regulations of the country of expansion.

  1. Courteous customer service

-> What is considered a friendly customer greeting in this country? Perhaps it’s not a requirement to look a customer in the eye, but instead to use a formal greeting.

  1. Fast and efficient service

-> Is the overseas kitchen equipped the same? Is the franchisor offering new, fresh menu items that have different prep times? These are all nuances that must be accounted for.

So how, exactly, do you account for brand compliance, especially when the franchisor and franchisee may be several thousand miles away from each other?

Using a Nimble Communication Platform

Relying on traditional forms of communication—emails, calls, and fax—can create barriers and frustrations. For instance, if the franchisor requires the global franchisee to call in during business hours, it may be during a critical prep time or when the franchisee is preparing to run through their end-of-day list checklist before closing the restaurant.

Instead, consider a real-time, cloud-based, mobile platform. Franchisees can work with franchisors to translate brand best practices—literally to translate the language and figuratively to account for any cultural nuances. Those best practices can exist as a series of simple checklists that are easily disseminated to mobile devices via the cloud.  

Rather than requiring franchisees to call or email, franchisors can update store conditions and communicate concerns in real time. They can also upload a photo or video to illustrate exactly what’s happening in their stores. A platform like Zenput also enables franchisors to set up different levels of alerts.

For instance, a senior manager at the franchisee development company may be alerted to key maintenance issues, which the parent company can’t easily resolve in real time. But if the franchisee reports that key materials, such as signage and branded store elements, never arrived via shipment, then managers at the parent company could act. The parent may also want to be alerted to any food safety concerns at the store level and to track the follow-up process.

The best way to find out if this platform is right for your organization is to try it yourself.

Check out some of Zenput’s mobile forms that may be helpful to global franchisors:

Food Quality Evaluation Form

Restaurant Food Safety

Restaurant Customer Service Evaluation

Restaurant Scheduling and Procedures

To learn more about how Zenput helps restaurants, click here.

Topics: Franchise

Effective vs. Ineffective Franchise Operators. Where do you fall?

By Vladik Rikhter

future fast food pic.jpg“Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.” – Alfred Montapert

I think this is one of the most inspirational quotes for franchisees. Not just because it’s food related, but because it’s the truth of the business they know. Foodservice franchises, whether they are restaurants or convenience stores, are a messy business to manage. Food safety is its own realm, not to mention the expectations of customer service. Then there’s all the equipment and storage responsibilities.

The restaurant manager encounters challenges every day. It’s how they respond to those challenges that makes or breaks a brand. Are you eating them for breakfast, or are you letting them consume you?

If you’re a franchise operator, you know that you can’t be everywhere at once. You sign a contract and you place a great deal of trust in another operator to uphold your brand’s standards and best practices, which you’ve taken great care to define and communicate… or at least you think you have.

That’s the thing about compliance in a franchise network—you need to communicate well with franchisees early on and clearly define serious standards violations.

To make this point clear, I’ve created the following 5-point progressions of an ineffective vs. effective franchisor.

The Dichotomy of the Ineffective vs. Effective Franchisor

Ineffective

  1. Has a contract but never extracts the most relevant information to create simple checklists.
  2. Doesn’t clearly communicate core brand expectations with franchisees on a regular basis.
  3. Visits each location, documenting with paper and pen. Notices some problems that aren’t yet violations. Never follows up on them.
  4. Expects franchisees to readily answer phone calls and emails during business hours. Feels like they find out about problems when it’s too late.
  5. Feels blindsided by a franchisee’s problem that goes public.

Effective

  1. Has broken out the contract into manageable lists, with some criteria that are not simply “yes” or “no.” The checklist requires detail and explanation to complete.
  2. Regularly communicates with franchisees. Pushes out updates and notifications quickly and in real time.
  3. Documents store conditions using a cloud-based mobile technology on a readily accessible device. Use of a nimble platform alerts senior managers to core inefficiencies, enabling them to act on their findings at a particular location and assign follow-up tasks. Therefore, compliance is well-documented.
  4. Understands that franchisees need to operate their business during business hours and can benefit from new technologies.
  5. Can predict franchisee failures before they happen. And in the worst-case scenario, if the franchisee relationship results in legal action, the franchisor has thorough documentation of non-compliance.  

If your operations sound more like the “Ineffective” model, don’t fret. The “Effective” model is well within reach. It starts with your commitment to explore new systems and update your processes through technology.

Get started by looking at what Zenput can do for restaurants and c-stores.  Or schedule a demo here.

Topics: Business Operations, Franchise

5 Musts for Every Restaurant Inspection

By David Mostovoy

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When a city’s health department decides to inspect restaurants, they can cover a tremendous amount of ground in what seems like a relatively short amount of time. For example, the Philadelphia Department of Health inspected nearly 500 restaurants, delis and other eateries between Nov. 9 and Nov. 21. Good news for local restaurants: they only found a few serious offenders.

In today’s click-bait world, restaurant health inspection stories seem to be on the rise. The Business Journal publications are especially in tune with the latest reports in various municipalities across the U.S. Some of these journals make it a point to publish the findings as they’re reported. Years ago, if a restaurant was cited for an offense, it could make the paper, but then eventually it would go away. The restaurant would fix the problem, reopen if it had closed, and life would go on. In today’s news environment, bad publicity has a permanent home that’s just a quick search and a click away. It’s imperative for restaurants to not wind up on the “naughty” list anywhere because it can do irreparable damage to their brand.

Based on our experience working with restaurant operators, these are the top 5 things to audit weekly in a restaurant:

  1. Food Safety/Cleanliness – Well, this may get a “duh” response since it’s a restaurant, but you’d be surprised with what turns up in some reports, especially when it comes to food that isn’t stored at correct temperatures. This is one of the most egregious offenses because it’s so simple to avoid, yet so costly to all involved parties if not appropriately addressed. It all comes down to working thermometers (for food storage and cooking of meats), adherence to food preparation guidelines, and adherence to proper cleaning procedures.

 P.S. If the food thermometer issue is a sticking point, you can use the BluTherm food thermometer to digitally record readings, which makes auditing process easier.

  1. Make sure employees are adhering to rules – Because that’s the reality: there are rules that are more than guidelines or suggestions. You may have heard this past week that Hawaii may become the next state (among just a handful) to require food handler certification at either a state or county level. If you are in one of those states, your restaurant audit needs to include employee records. Other routine tasks, that include cleaning and inventory management, must also be accounted for on a regular basis.

  2. Ability to report to management. How many times do you mean to send that email or follow up by phone, but something comes up and suddenly you’re pulled away from the task at hand? It happens to all of us. But not reporting issues as they arise in restaurants is where it can get dangerous or, at the very least, negligent. “If you see something, say something” needs to apply to restaurant operations and managers need real-time tools to confidently report any issues they encounter during audits.

  3. Restaurant condition – To the point of reporting any issues, part of the restaurant audit needs to address the condition of the facility. “Standing water” can appear as a note on a health inspector’s record because it can lead to mold, mildew and invite pests. Routinely check for leaks on the interior/exterior walls, ceilings and other permanent fixtures. Also be sure to check the lighting and utilities like gas and water.

  4. Ensure marketing materials are in compliance – Restaurant audits aren’t just about the nuts and bolts of the facility. Have the menus been updated to reflect the latest items? Is there signage in the store reminding customers of the latest promotion? Are prices accurate? The restaurant audit is the perfect opportunity to check these finer details, as they reflect on your brand.

Zenput is the mobile, cloud-based solution that helps restaurant operators gain location-by-location insight on key metrics and maintain accountability across the organization. Learn more about Zenput’s functionality for restaurant operators by clicking here. 

Topics: Franchise, Restaurants

The Hidden Advantages for Multi-Unit Franchisees

By Vladik Rikhter

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I recently encountered an interesting comparison to being a multi-unit franchisee. For some people, it’s like having a tattoo—they find they can’t have just one!

In fact, multi-unit franchisees account for 53% of the 450,000 franchise units in the U.S. and 76.5% of franchised restaurants, according to FranData. A report by Entrepreneur explains how multi-unit franchises used to be rare. The climate changed during the Great Recession when franchise brands saw that small operators of one or two units were struggling. Working with larger franchisees proved to be easier, considering their existing relationships with vendors and realtors and their ability to rapidly expand across a region.

One multi-unit franchisor put it this way: “If we build 50 restaurants, we don’t want 50 partners. It takes as much energy to manage 50 franchisees as it does 300. We want the sophistication of our partners to be as good or better than we are.”

In fact, many brands now have multi-unit signup deals for franchisees who are new to brand, but not new to the game. There are numerous advantages offered in these deals:

  1. Higher profits (more locations = more revenue)
  2. Better access to capital
  3. Shared marketing
  4. Lower infrastructure and human resources costs
  5. Lower costs due to greater buying and negotiating power with vendors/suppliers

These 5 are the “no-brainers,” considering they all have dollar signs readily attached to them. But there’s an added, hidden advantage to multi-unit franchising.

Increased Uniformity to Build Your Brand

Multi–unit franchisees begin to develop turn-key business models for what works best. A business plan on paper is one thing; in practice, it can become something very different.

The business acumen of a multi-unit franchisee increases as he/she experiences new events—both positive and negative—that impact business. When one of these events occurs, it’s not enough to chalk it up to experience and say, “I’ll know for next time!” You improve your business by documenting the experience. Take notes, capture your surroundings with a photo, and share the information with store managers in your network. Also document how you responded to the event and what you learned from the experience.

Let’s consider a scenario of what might happen in day-to-day operations:

  • You receive a notification that one of your locations ran out of a product or ingredient because a vendor failed to deliver.
  • Rather than look up a telephone number or find a computer, the store manager has a mobile form ready to go on their smartphone.  In addition, they attach a photo to show the out-of-stock.
  • The vendor is notified in real time of the exception. Faced with visual evidence, they comply with contract execution and notify their driver to make a stop.

Over time, you’ll begin to see patterns of historical analytics of exceptions. Maybe the out-of-stock is occurring during a certain day of the week, and the delivery schedule with the vendor needs to be readjusted. Information will be documented and stored to help you make a more informed decision. You’ll be able to adjust your processes and better train staff, if necessary.

While it’s wise to “expect the unexpected,” you’ll have a uniform process of handling many common challenges that arise.

So, while multi-unit franchising may be like getting more than one tattoo, just know that day-to-day operations aren’t permanent. When franchisees are frustrated by something or notice inefficiencies, they should have the tools necessary to help them adjust in real time.

Topics: Franchise, Restaurants

5 Things to Check Before Closing a Restaurant

By Brian Harris

sorry-we-re-closed.jpgPhoto by Nick Papakyriazis

What should be on your checklist before leaving? Here are five important things to remember every night before closing:

1. Clean up. No really...CLEAN IT

The first and most important part to closing up a restaurant is to make sure that all the kitchens, equipment, cutlery, and glassware are clean. If there’s a mishap in the morning—weather related or otherwise—and the opening shift doesn’t have time to clean up, your customers could walk into last night’s mess. Don’t just spot clean. A clean floor is indicative of a clean environment, so sweep, mop, and vacuum as needed.

 2. Stock up for tomorrow

Server stations quite easily become the messiest areas of your restaurant. In quick-service and fast-casual restaurants, server stations are self-serve stations. Customers don’t typically treat this area like their own kitchen counters. Whether it holds condiments like ketchup and mustard, or cups and other utensils, the server station should be fully stocked at the end of the night.

3. Check bathrooms

First off, this is a standard safety issue. You want to make sure everyone has exited the restaurant. You can’t be too careful to check your premises thoroughly before locking the door. Then make sure that the bathroom is re-stocked with toilet paper, paper towels, and soap. Customers often measure the cleanliness of a restaurant by the bathroom, and having a spotless bathroom can make a customer feel more “at home.” I’m more likely to remember extraordinarily clean bathrooms, but I definitely remember those that were gross.

4. Garbage

The garbage is the next thing to check before closing up shop. Clean up around the wastepaper basket, and make sure that all the trash bags have been removed to the dumpster. Remove the kitchen garbage for sanitation and to prevent odors.

5. Check entrance/exit points. When locked, audit cash.

Check that the building has been locked down properly. When it has, collect all cash and prepare all deposits. Click here for more on developing a proper cash auditing process. Before leaving, double check that all the doors and windows are locked.

Bonus tip: Monitor exceptions. It’s impossible to be everywhere at once, especially in franchised operations. When we talked about opening your restaurant for business, we included auditing for compliance. Now, we can take it a step further. With a tool like Zenput, you can actually receive a notification when one or more of these tasks is not being completed or is not being properly executed. Hold employees accountable for closing tasks. Address what’s not getting done and where. Also take the opportunity to reward employees for dedication at the end of a long night. It’s possible to gain this level of insight with the right tools.

Topics: Franchise, Restaurants

Pizza Hut’s $5 Flavor Menu Raises Stakes in QSR Competition

By Brian Harris

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For Pizza Hut, a new year has meant a new opportunity to redefine value for customers. This opportunity is evident in the new $5 Flavor Menu.

“Our intent was to create the most flavor-filled and broadly appealing value menu ever in the food category, and we think we’ve done that with the $5 Flavor Menu,” said Jeff Fox, Pizza Hut chief brand and concept officer.

Fox acknowledged that value meals “don’t really happen” in the pizza category. While many brands offer carry-out or online ordering specials, Pizza Hut has curated a menu of customer favorites. Customer can order any two of seven items for $5 each. So there’s the catch in a way—the customer will spend a minimum of $10. They can order a medium one-topping pizza with the gamut of ingredients, crusts, and sauces. They can then add a variety of appetizers and snacks, including Hershey’s Cookie, Hershey’s Brownie, WingStreet wings, Tuscani Pasta, and breadsticks.

What’s the Strategy?

Whenever a brand drops prices or introduces a new value menu, it’s in the context of a larger strategy. Imagine all the QSR players are sitting around a card table. McDonald’s raised everyone by rolling out its McPick 2 Menu. It replaces the underperforming Dollar Menu and allows customers to pay $2 for two of the following: a McChicken, a McDouble, small fries, or mozzarella sticks. The same day McPick 2 debuted, Pizza Hut launched its $5 flavor menu; they’re competing for the same customer.

You may recall Wendy’s launching a 4 for $4 Meal in October. Customers may choose from a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, fries, and a drink. In a move that seems like a direct response to Wendy’s, Burger King has just launched a 5 for $4 Deal, including a bacon cheeseburger, crispy chicken nuggets, small fries, small drink, and a chocolate chip cookie.

Meanwhile, Pizza Hut must compete in a separate but related battle among pizza companies.

Thrillist points out that the $5 Flavor Menu directly competes with Domino’s successful $5.99 menu and Little Caesar’s $5 Hot-N-Ready menu. This option will of course put pressure on Papa John’s.

So, that’s what the current landscape looks like, and now Pizza Hut’s deal makes a great deal of sense.

May the Best Quality and Customer Service Win!

The customer is the real winner in this game. As Business Insider explains, the reason for the rise of the bargain menu is twofold (and highly customer-centric):

  1. Customers want to save money in the New Year and one way is by saving money with bargain meals at quick-service chains.
  2. Fast-food companies aim to compete for the position of best value chain while turning a profit.

But getting more customers in the door with cheaper food is not a golden ticket to victory. Customers expect quality customer service and a clean, friendly environment when they visit you store. They expect consistency in how the pizza looks and tastes.

Fast-food competitors may beat Pizza Hut on price, but Pizza Hut can have an advantage by regularly promoting fresh ingredients on its menu. And if Pizza Hut wants to compete in its own category, it can offer superior delivery service.

If Pizza Hut is willing to roll up its sleeves to make a value pie, is it willing to audit its network to better understand operations?

See Also:

How to Perform a Pizza Franchise Inspection

Topics: Franchise, Restaurants

7-Eleven's Mobile Delivery Is Brand-Focused

By Brian Harris

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Branding to a younger, Millennial generation is the name of the game when it comes to the convenience of the Internet. This is just as true when it comes to the convenience store, and retailers like 7-Eleven are learning they can benefit from branding their technology to college students.

7-Eleven recently partnered with delivery service Tapingo, and will focus on users at or near participating colleges in Arizona, California, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. It’s convenient and, perhaps most importantly for this age group, it’s cheap.

Tapingo offers a browse of the aisle of the neighborhood 7-Eleven. Users pay a $2.99 delivery charge but no additional service fees. In light of Tapingo’s low cost and high revenue potential, more colleges are considering applying the app to campus dining programs.

Targeting the Audience

Big players like Amazon (with it’s Prime Now food ordering app) and Grubhub have already proven the food delivery model, and the market has been inundated with a variety of smaller niche players, like Caviar. The more companies in this space, the more the customer stands to benefit. It’s literally the “Hunger Games”: May the least expensive service with the best options and customer service win!

7-Eleven is taking it a step further by targeting young consumers who wants inexpensive items through an inexpensive service. Items like energy drinks, ice cream, and packaged snacks have wide appeal to this age group. On college campuses, where many students may not have cars, the need for delivery service is even more important.

As the college dorm economy is driven more and more by technological advances, brands like 7-Eleven have more to gain by appealing to those advancements. It’s not just a chance to sell more Slurpees; it’s a chance to build a lasting relationship with a customer.

The Takeaway

In order to increase market share, 7-Eleven’s venture into delivery was a necessary step towards integrating the brand with the modern definition of convenience.

Once again, 7-Eleven has shown how it’s a brand that understands and delivers on the needs of its core customers. Other competing convenience stores are sure to follow, but success will largely depend on how well these retailers know their business at the store level, including the needs of their target customer.

To learn why one of the largest franchisees of 7-Eleven stores in the U.S. chose Zenput to improve daily operations, click here.

Topics: Retail, Franchise, C-store

Franchises Expanding into Non-Traditional Spaces

By Jennifer Hoffman

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The expansion of franchise quick-service restaurants (QSRs) into non-traditional spaces is a result of increased competition and a limited amount of prime real estate.

So, how does a brand grow when there’s a limited amount of space? Right in our home city of San Francisco, we see our Giants MLB team trying to develop the area around AT&T Park. The proposal, called Mission Rock, involves building a neighborhood of homes, shops, offices, art studios, parks and even a brewery, right around the ballpark. The team stands to gain millions through this 28-acre real estate development project and can offset ticket sales in non-World Series years.

Similarly, restaurant franchises can capitalize on the opportunity that exists in nontraditional space surrounding their restaurants, like food courts, universities, and airports. The opportunity to profit from leased space can offset operational costs of running full restaurants and other costs associated with the pursuit of prime real estate.

Restaurant companies just need to make sure their operation, offerings, and promotions stay true to their brand. Of course, that’s easier said than done! Here are a couple suggestions for promoting your businesses as it expands in a non-traditional space.

Know What to Expect

Whenever I think of franchises expanding to non-traditional spaces, I think of my friend who served ice cream at a popular concert venue during his summer breaks from college. He had two great stories from this experience: A guy as jacked as Arnold Schwarzenegger walked up and bellowed, “I’ll have a twist with sprinkles!” The other story is that he met his future wife who was vacationing from her home 1,000 miles away.

The point is, expect the unexpected in a non-traditional format and be prepared to serve a range of customers!

As this article on QSRWeb.com discusses, non-traditional formats may also create unique franchise relationships because they are often formed through contract service providers rather than individual franchisees. As a result, these agreements often require more thought and planning. For instance, how will you operate in the absence of coolers and storage or a prep station?

In many cases, like in airports or highway rest stops—or even a kiosk at a concert venue—your staff has a limited amount of space to operate. The server may be replaced by a cooler or hot pan, where food is prepared to be selected quickly.

Part of expansion into non-traditional spaces also means redefining workflow among your employees in order to serve customers. So, while the coolers and hot pans don’t need to have personnel watching the entire time, they still need to be maintained for temperature, cleanliness, and quantity. Hopefully, your non-traditional space is offering more foot traffic, so you may be producing more food at a faster rate.

Brand Focus

In traditional QSR locations, branding is important but involves a different kind of interaction with customers. In non-traditional locations, most impressions are going to be made in fleeting intervals, and for that reason, branding focus is a top priority.

What a company chooses to display up front, from promotional signage to menu boards, is crucial to catching the eye of a traveler running to catch a plane or a student grabbing something before class. Companies need to make sure that these materials are consistent with their traditional locations and properly represent the company.

The Takeaway

Part of expanding a franchise into non-traditional spaces is to serve customers who have different needs. Companies who expand this way need to acclimate to different paces and schedules. One thing that will help this transition is seamless communication and an auditing process that allows the non-traditional space to communicate with upper management. This oversight is especially important when a brand is trying a non-traditional concept for the first time.

Topics: Franchise, Restaurants

The Growth of Fast & Casual on College Campuses

By Brian Harris

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Fast-casual concepts are expanding more and more in the college campus market. Larger companies and restaurants are tapping into a growing market with a customer base that can make or break a company’s future. Sit-down restaurants are also using fast-casual as a way to brand their larger, more traditional formats.

Pei Wei, a fast-casual branch of the franchise P.F. Chang’s, is proof that larger franchises and companies are making it a priority to cater to a younger generation that wants to be served fresh food faster. Pei Wei’s first college campus opening at Arizona State University provides quick service to customers in a busy location. In the long run, the format will also promote the P.F. Chang’s brand outside of campus.

“The strategy behind us wanting to be in universities is we’re always looking to be in venues that build awareness of our brand, especially in markets where we’re not yet,” said Paul Damico, president of Moe’s Southwest Grill, told QSR Magazine.

Pita Pit is another example of a fast-casual chain finding success on college campuses like the University of Wyoming and University of Massachusetts Amherst, where a new customer base turns over every four years. Pita Pit generates constant and consistent revenue, and also attracts non-students.

There are two lessons to learn from college campus formats:

1. Establishing loyalty with customers is extremely important. The key to foodservice loyalty is maintaining a clean and healthy store that keeps customers coming back. Remember: A college dive bar might be fun, but ultimately, most people don’t want to have a meal there.

2. Keep up with technology to stay ahead of the competition. The tail end of the Millennial generation, or really Generation Z, currently populates college campuses across America. They have access to more technology than ever befor. Digital menu boards, mobile ordering and delivery options, and social media outreach are just some of the strategies that can resonate with a younger generation of consumers who grew up using computers.

In terms of tech-savvy chains, look for farther than Starbucks, which has locations on college campuses across America. In fact, Starbucks has gained something of a cult status by becoming the highlight of final exams week.

Who can forget this Frozen parody filmed on a college campus?

Don’t forget your employees! You might want to consider empowering your college-aged employees through mobile technology. To learn more, check out our blog post, Using BYOD to Empower Your Retail Employees.

Topics: Franchise, Restaurants

Franchised Restaurant Operations vs. Corporate-Owned Operations

By Vladik Rikhter

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There’s a shift happening in the restaurant industry other than changing consumer preferences. It’s the rise of company-owned vs. franchised operations.

Previously, we’ve discussed the regional success of In-N-Out Burger. This is a restaurant chain that came of age with McDonald’s. When the two restaurant chains came to a fork in the road, they took separate paths. McDonald’s experienced explosive growth, while In-N-Out Burger grew slowly but steadily, eventually reaching cult-like status among foodies.

Today, In-N-Out Burger continues to grow while McDonald’s will have to close more restaurants than it opens for the first time in 40 years.

Other major chains are starting to get a clue. Chipotle, which McDonald’s has been criticized for trying to chase, has seen its revenue soar by 155% over the past five years. Panera’s saw five-year revenue growth of 77%. It should be noted that Chipotle is 100-percent company owned, while Panera is a mix of company-owned and franchised locations.

It should also be noted that during this time period, the proportion of company-owned locations has increased slightly at Panera. While this has slowed down total system sales, Panera’s revenue rose 7.2% on a 2.4% comparable-sales increase at company-owned locations. Chipotle is expanding its footprint at almost twice the right of Panera.

Then came the news that Buffalo Wild Wings spent $160 million buying out franchisees. Corporate-owned locations have been registering faster sales growth than franchisees have for seven straight quarters. The company is focused on rolling out changes that franchisees are slower at implementing, particularly “guest experience captains” and store redesigns.

Brand Experience Reigns Supreme

You may ask, what is a guest experience captain? This is a position Buffalo Wild Wings created at its 500 company-owned operations. The employee’s job is to help deliver the ultimate social experience for sports fans, from introducing new guests to product and promotional offers to managing audio/visual equipment.

Similarly, Panera has been rolling out Panera 2.0 at its corporate-owned locations. This concept is designed to help reduce customer friction at cafes through digital access and improved operational processes. It really works, too. I didn’t have to wait 20 minutes to stand on line for a tomato soup last week.

It all comes down to improving operations for a better customer experience. It’s about being the moment with your customers to respond to their needs in real time.

We’re certainly not saying that franchised operations don’t work. Many times, they work with great success.

Maybe you don’t have the resources to roll out an entirely new service system in your restaurants. Or maybe you are a franchisee wondering how you can better meet the high bar your brand has set. Considering using your existing technology to gain better insights into your business.

Topics: Franchise, Restaurants