Archive for September, 2014

The early bird special – not just for frugal retirees

Restaruants should take another look at the early bird special.  It just might be another tactical move to please customers and increase traffic and sales.


Daily Record, Nina Rizzo, 9/24/14

The early bird special isn’t just for frugal retirees who don’t like to drive in the dark. Count the millennials among those looking for dining deals at off-peak hours.

Add families who want to feed their children a sensible meal before a weeknight sports practice. And young professionals who come straight from the office.

There is a broad range of consumers looking to stretch their dining dollars when restaurants are less busy.

“There is a great deal of pent-up demand from consumers looking to dine out,” Christin Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association, wrote in an email. “Our research shows that more than seven out of 10 adults say they would consider dining out more often if menu prices were lower during off-peak times. Restaurateurs can capitalize on this demand by lowering menu prices using special promotions during slower times to drive foot traffic.”

Many restaurants have embraced the early dining discount. The association found, in a 2013 restaurant trends survey, that a quarter of family- and casual-dining operators and 36 percent of fine-dining establishments offered off-peak dining at reduced prices. A majority of restaurant owners believe this trend will become more popular in the future.

The early bird revival was perhaps most noticeable a few years ago in states like Florida, where the real estate crash reverberated throughout the economy and forced people of all ages to rethink the notion of eating a steak at 4:30 in the afternoon.

The seniors-only stigma apparently has faded. According to the nationwide survey, 72 percent of adults said they would consider dining out more often if menu prices were lower during off-peak times. Some 80 percent of those who frequently eat at fast food and fast casual places, like Smash Burger or Chipotle, said they would take advantage of early-bird deals, too.

Don’t just sit in the present to wait for something to happen in the future

International Franchise Association Emerging Franchisor Conference – GO BIG OR GO HOME!

IFA Emerging Franchisor ConferenceEver wondered what it is like to be given all tools necessary and then told to build something? Well, as many of us know, it’s definitely a challenge to start on your own! However, given the proper resources, it could end up being the best learning opportunity! Now take that approach and apply it to your business. If you are a growing franchisor and looking for the premier franchising networking event filled with resources, then look no further!

The 2014 Emerging Franchisor Conference is an interactive platform for executives of brands that are just stepping into the market. Join fellow professionals who have been in the business for quite a while to gain tips and apply proven strategies on how to make your brand shine!

Keynote addresses: Hear Warren Ellish, President & CEO Ellish Marketing Group and member of the faculty at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management talk about World-Class Branding, Catherine Monson, CEO of FASTSIGNS International discuss corporate culture and Mary Kennedy Thompson of the Dwyer Group, give her “Lessons in Leadership.” After hearing their motivational stories there is no doubt that you will be recharged and ready to GO BIG!

Not only does this event advise you on the necessary steps to reach the top, but it helps guide you in the right direction, especially in connection with your franchisees. Building trust from the start is crucial in any relationship so enhance the connection with your current franchisees while creating new relations. By the end of the conference, you will know who you want to play a key role in your business, what you want from them, and where to put them in action.

Some key aspects of the conference that should not be missed like the “Discussion with Franchise Founder’s and CEO’s”, the notorious “Think Tank” session, a case study of audience engagement and of course, the infamous roundtable discussions where you get up close and personal with the best of the business!

Don’t just sit in the present to wait for something to happen in the future, take a plunge in this unique educational opportunity offered by IFA and register for the 2014 Emerging Franchisor Conference in Dallas, November 18-19 today!

I look forward to seeing you in Dallas at this great IFA conference.

Eliminating a signature brand experience can present a branding problem

Behind the Wheel: Fast-casual sandwich chain Which Wich adapts to drive-thru operation.

Once a hallmark of classic fast-food joints, the drive-thru operation is getting a fast casual–style facelift thanks to chains like Dallas-based Which Wich. The customizable sandwich concept opened its second drive-thru unit this summer in Crystal Lake, Illinois, to offer more convenience, says Jeremy Cook, senior vice president of real estate and construction.

For a franchise that creates menu items to order, fulfilling drive-thru orders quickly is a big challenge, Cook says. While guests mark their choices on the brand’s signature brown paper bags inside the store, a cashier verbally guides customers through step-by-step ordering at the drive-thru window. Based on the performance of the brand’s first drive-thru location in Marble Falls, Texas, wait times average 5–7 minutes, and the system is working well, Cook says.

The brand’s initiative is the latest step of a growing trend in the industry, says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of consulting firm Technomic Inc. It follows drive-thru retrofits at a small number of locations by Panera Bread, Firehouse Subs, and Einstein Bros. Bagels, he says.

“Brands are looking at how to steal share from competitors,” Tristano says, and drive thrus offer a sales boost by appealing to customers like parents with small children.

However, eliminating a signature brand experience like Which Wich’s paper bag ordering process can present a branding problem, says Warren Ellish, restaurant consultant and president of Ellish Marketing Group. “Their drive thru may boost sales in the short-term, but in the end, they could lose sales by diluting the brand,” Ellish says. “People who don’t know the brand will lose the unique ordering experience.”

Although Which Wich’s high-quality ingredients are an important draw, it’s the ordering system that makes the brand unique, he adds. It may be better for the chain to try to replicate their ordering protocol by providing paper bags and markers for drive-thru customers, or offering a smartphone app, Ellish says.

The Which Wich team expects to make refinements to its drive-thru operation as it offers the platform to more franchisees, but early indicators are positive, Cook says. “It’s like anything else,” he says. “You want to continue to get better and try to perfect the process.”

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