McDonald’s Refurb Not So New

Wow, what a lot of fuss over McDonalds new look and new technology. The trade papers have been full of potential color schemes, the lack of primary colors, screens instead of menu boards and a sit back and relax atmosphere. I am amazed at the number of writers that have jumped on the bandwagon to report on these new innovations and turn around in the strategic direction of this company.

Hang on a minute though!!

I am someone that has spent most of my last 20 years in other parts of the world and because some of those places were, shall we say, a little unhygienic, my wife and I were in the habit of visiting McDonald’s on a regular basis. Yep, we used the bathroom but didn’t eat the food. Of course all that changed when we had a child but that is another story.

Now all these visits to McDonald’s over the years has made me a bit of an expert in their décor, products, specials etc. and I will admit that I do use them as a barometer of the maturity of a market that I may have just arrived in. This goes for the more mature western markets as well, McDonalds are very good at taking ideas from their franchisees and making them work. There are always things that are market specific to whatever country you happen to be in that is interesting and sometimes a little bit quirky. Have you ever thought about what they substitute for beef in India?

I kept on getting a feeling of déjà vu as I was reading these articles and came to the realization that this is nothing new for McDonald’s, these changes are not new but a mix of all the things that have been happening around the McDonald’s world for years. McCafe has been around for years and in some parts of the world a relaxing latte in McDonalds has been a regular part of many people’s daily lives. They even have comfortable chairs that make you want to stay and have another coffee.

Many McDonalds have subdued colors in Europe and other regions. Have a look at the store in Alexandria, VA, it has had a subdued décor package for over a decade and there is one in Asheville NC. that has a grand piano!

The menu screens have also been around for years and even my local coffee shop has a couple, so how new is this strategic change in direction? For some countries not new at all would be my guess.




Local Store Marketing for Your Franchise Restaurant – The Loyalty Program

Loyalty programLSM Tip #3

The Loyalty Program

The most effective way to drive sales from existing customers and to gain new customers is with some sort of loyalty program.

Which type of loyalty program is dependant on the concept that you have. A pizza restaurant or fast casual restaurant would have to be significantly more careful about the type and cost of a loyalty program than say a coffee shop.

Most of the larger grocery chains have some form of loyalty program as do most coffee shops and many small businesses, food related or not. Your airline frequent flyer program is an example of a loyalty program. All of these companies and many more have seen the benefit of a program that ties your customer to your business and makes them think twice before going to a competitor, even if they are closer and of the same quality.

Loyalty programs are a cost to your business but it is a cost that you must be willing to pay without hesitation. Look at a loyalty program as a marketing tool that will offer instant results and something that will drive your business. The quickest way to ruin your loyalty program and drive away your customers is not promoting  it to the utmost of your ability.

The easiest way to implement  a loyalty program is with a loyalty card.

There are a few ways to do the loyalty card; the cheap way and the expensive way. The cheap way is to get a large amount of loyalty cards made with your logo, the terms and conditions of the loyalty cards, a place for your customers name and address and space to punch ten( or however many) times. You then have a punch made that is specific to your concept/store i.e) coffee cup, burger, logo, etc.

The expensive way is to get your loyalty cards made with computer chips embedded in them so that your POS system can read and manage. This method gives you a lot of information that can be used to market your products and your store but the price per card can be prohibitive and will probably only be used by large concepts or supermarkets where the average check is high enough to warrant the cost.

Time and time again I have seen franchisees complain about the cost of a loyalty program and the hassles that go with it. This attitude always permeates to the team and pretty soon this attitude will get to your customers. A couple of tips to ensure the smooth running and success of your loyalty program.

  1. If you are using a card that you punch, ensure the punch is hard to duplicate and has something to do with your business. Look in the yellow pages for punch manufacturers.
  2. Train your team to ask every customer if they have a loyalty card and if not explain the benefits to them and hand them one.
  3. If people have multiple cards offer to consolidate them onto one card even if it means giving a free drink.
  4. Take the loyalty cards of your competitors and exchange them for your own. Give them a free punch or two on your card. You have just stolen a competitors customer. How good is that!!
  5. Pick your slowest day and make a double punch day. Give two punches for every product sold. This should help increase your sales on your slowest day or have a double punch happy hour to do the same for those quiet afternoons.
  6. Never argue about a card that looks as if it has been tampered with. Just take it and move on. You cannot afford to make a loyal customer think you do not trust them.
  7. Once the card is redeemed for their free or discounted product keep the card and automatically give them a new one.
  8. If you have their name and address on the card you can start a data base of your customers. Use this for mail outs and promotions. To help to get your customers to put their contact details on the card set up a monthly competition where old cards will be drawn for a free meal or other product prizes.
  9. Keep it going. This is a promotion that should never stop. Keep building your customer base with new and more loyal existing customers.

I am sure that you can come up with a myriad of ways to adapt this simple idea to your store or concept. Let us know how it works for you.

To Higher Profits


Franchise Restaurant Expansion – Are You Ready?

For the last few years I have been doing some work for a large coffee franchise as mentioned in my last post. This franchise has in the past gone through some enormous growth in unit numbers but is still basically an owner operator business with the majority of franchisees owning only one store.

As per most coffee stores, average check is low and cost of goods, with a commodity like coffee, is high and does vary greatly with the market.

The single most asked question from the franchisees is….. should I open a second store?

My answer in 85% of the cases has been a resounding no!!

I know that it is a bit of a blanket answer but, just because you have a successful business does not mean that you can translate that success into a second store.

It does not matter how good you are, there will always be some dilution of your skills, standards and business acumen when you are spread out over twice as many outlets. You cannot be in two places at once which means that you will have to take a big step and trust someone else to do the important things that you have always done yourself.

So where are you going to get this clone of yourself? From your existing store of course. Now you have taken your best employee and moved them to the new store leaving the second best to take up the slack. Good thinking considering you will only be at your existing store 50% of the time. Oops, that’s wrong because the new store will take up a larger percentage of your time for at least the first three months. That means with you spending only 30% of your time at your existing store your second best employee is looking after your livelihood!

Geez what is wrong with this scenario?

Let’s also take into account the added financial burden as well as significantly more hours spent at work and less time with loved ones. We all know how much stress these add to our lives.

It is not impossible and many people become successful multi-unit franchisees, but plenty of care and forethought are needed prior to this decision. Months if not years of planning and successional training are required to ensure even the operational aspects are in place let alone the financial planning and forecasts needed.

So if you are planning to expand for the first time, good luck and good planning.