FOCUS Brands Sets its Sights on Best-in-Class Hospitality through Technology

By | Press Release, Restaurants

Franchising Giant Empowers Thousands of Franchisees through FranchiseBlast

For Immediate Release: PRWeb


FOCUS Brands including Cinnabon®, Schlotzsky’s®, Moe’s Southwest Grill® and McAlister’s Deli® use FranchiseBlast Brand Consistency and Planning tools to delight both customers and franchisees alike. The best-in-class iconic, global foodservice brands will empower local restaurants through industry-leading mobile tools.

“We drive both hospitality and excellence for our brands,” said Steve Roach, CIO of FOCUS Brands. “That is done by getting thousands of little details right for our guests, which this technology will help us achieve.”

FranchiseBlast’s Brand Consistency software will allow Focus Executives and operations teams to identify and recognize top performers within the franchise network. Further, these tools assist with continued coaching and support for franchisees that require more attention including standards which need to be improved, audit averages, outstanding tasks and more.

At the same time, the brand is investing in Business Planning tools, enabling the franchisees and their business coaches to work together to set goals and achieve them.

“FOCUS is already a leader in the franchising community,” said Dean Hatzitheodosiou, Sr. Director of Business Development at FranchiseBlast. “We have had a fantastic working relationship over the past few years. These tools will help them maintain their elite position in our rapidly changing business environment.”

Embodying the entrepreneurial spirit, restaurant managers will also have the capability to self-assess their performance, rather than waiting for a franchise business consultant to do it.

“Our culture is all about equality, diversity, innovation and growth,” said Roach. “These tools will help us codify excellence in everything that we do.”

FOCUS Brands will continue rolling out new uses of FranchiseBlast’s extended suite of coaching tools into 2020. FranchiseBlast is also utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide actionable insights to the brands based on their operational excellence evaluations.

About FOCUS: Atlanta-based FOCUS Brands Inc. (“FOCUS Brands”) is a leading developer of global multi-channel foodservice brands. FOCUS Brands, through its affiliate brands, is the franchisor and operator of more than 6,000 restaurants, cafes, ice cream shoppes and bakeries in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and over 50 foreign countries.

About FranchiseBlast: FranchiseBlast’s Scorecards, Franchisee Field Audit App and collaboration tools empower franchisors to achieve operational excellence and brand consistency across locations. Their user-friendly apps help strengthen and connect the franchise organization and are used by over 100 brands including Ballard Brands, Recipe Unlimited and Pita Pit.

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15 Important Restaurant KPIs

By | Franchisee Scorecards, KPI, Restaurants
Restaurant KPIs

The majority of restaurants are franchised. The 2012 US Economic Census numbers say: “the estimated 122,042 limited-service franchise restaurants (NAICS 722513) make up approximately 54 percent of all fast-food restaurants in the United States, nearly 70 percent of the sales of fast-food restaurants ($185.4 billion), and about 73 percent of the employment of fast-food restaurants (3.6 million).”

So – how do you effectively manage a restaurant in terms of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the franchising environment. See our list of 15 helpful KPIs below.

Sales and Marketing

Average Online Rating

With 91% of 18-34 year olds trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and consumers willing to pay 31% more on a business with positive reviews, there is a great reason why this should top the list for restaurant KPIs. The average star rating, along with the number of ratings within the last month or quarter is the right place to start.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is a customer loyalty metric which rates customers as a Promoter, Detractor or Neutral depending on their answer to the following question: “How likely would you be to recommend us to a friend or family member?” on a 10-point scale. Promoters are 9-10, Neutrals are 7-8 and Detractors are 0-6. It can be calculated as follows:

NPS =  (%Promoters)-(%Detractors)

CSAT is also a popular way to measure customer satisfaction.

Number of Transactions

Number of transactions is a way to assess customer count. This can typically be retrieved from your Point of Sale (POS) system.

Average Check Size

Some restaurants prefer looking at this simple metric over worrying about upsell metrics. Essentially, a strong average check size shows that the location is getting more from each of their customers. It can be calculated as follows:

Average Check Size=(Total Sales)/(Total Transactions)

Number of New Loyalty Program Members or App Downloads

Loyalty programs and apps matter in the restaurant space, since increasing retention by just 5% through customer loyalty programs can boost revenue by 25 to 95%. Measuring this helps keep the franchisee’s eye on the ball when it comes to this vital activity. Another way to look at this is % of transactions using the loyalty app.


Speed of Service

This is a great one for increasingly time-starved customers, and it does not require any new data points. Measure this automatically from time the customer walks in or drives up to your restaurant through the  POS, to the time when the food is delivered to them based on your kitchen display system. Some compare this to NPS as well.

Speed of Service=(Food Order Time)-(Food Delivery Time)

Customer Retention Rate (CRR)

Customer retention rates vary greatly depending on the location and the size of the restaurant. For example, you would expect the CRR at a location at the airport to be low, given the audience in transition. This metric can be measured using the following formula:

CRR=((#of customers at the end of the period)-(# of new customers for that period))/(# of customers at the start of the period)

RevPASH (Revenue per available seat per hour)

If your franchisees have empty seats, their profitability is likely suffering. If you watch this metric hour by hour, you can make adjustments to improve the bottom line.

RevPASH=(Revenue/hour)/((Available Seats)/(hour))

% Online Orders

With Off Premise sales becoming such a major part of franchising, this is a great metric to start with. The only caution is that you don’t want to punish those that are growing their revenue in the traditional business. Online orders also tend to have a bigger check size.

% Online Orders = (Online Order Sales)/(Total Sales)


% Labor Costs

You may want to split your hourly staff wages versus your manager wages. Some owners-operator franchisees pay themselves a salary. Others pay themselves a dividend out of the profits for tax purposes. By carving out hourly wages into a separate entry, values become more comparable when benchmarked against the system.

% Hourly Labor Costs = (Hourly Labor Costs)/(Total Revenue)

% Food Costs

You should have the actual cost of the items you sold in that period so that you’re properly evaluating profitability. However, some systems don’t have this data easily on hand and they make an approximation using ‘purchases’ during that period. These two numbers don’t necessarily align, so be careful. Make sure you use consistent information for each unit.

% Food Costs = (Purchases)/(Total Revenue)

% of a Strategic Category

Some franchise systems have a very successful category with great profitability, such as soft drinks. Selling a bigger percentage of soft drinks, or whichever that category is within your system is a great start.

% of a Strategic Category = (Category Sales)/(Total Sales)

Food Cost Variance

A metric a lot of franchisors are talking about today is the actual cost of food compared to the planned cost. Tracking this helps track forecasting and handling fluctuations in certain costs such as beef in the future.

Food Cost Variance = (Actual Food Cost)/(Planned Food Cost)


Employee Turnover Rate (ETR)

Every industry has to deal with turnover, and it is a good idea to determine what is an “acceptable” number in your system.

ETR= (# of employees who left in that period)/((# of employees at the beginning) + (# of employees at the end))/2


Similar to Net Promoter Score for customers, above, the Employee Net Promoter score can help you understand how happy your team is. Though some franchisees are hesitant about measuring employees this way, it can add insight – and happy front-line employees mean happy customers.

Ready to Go Further?

Looking for more KPIs for your Franchise? Look at our post on how to use KPIs in Franchising. If you are ready to go one step further, check out our eBook: Ultimate Guide to Franchisee Scorecards.

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USDA-Certified Organic Juice Bar Partners with FranchiseBlast Mobile Technology to Drive Brand Experience and Quality Processes

By | Press Release, Restaurants

Clean Juice leads the way in delivering healthy fast with a smile.

For Immediate Release: PRWeb.

Clean Juice, the first and only USDA-certified organic juice bar franchise with more than 55 stores in the U.S., has partnered with FranchiseBlast to help deliver, measure and ensure a high-quality guest experience at each store.

By utilizing FranchiseBlast’s powerful software and performance tools, Clean Juice will be able to audit its stores more effectively and ensure the same quality processes it uses for its CCOF and USDA-organic certifications will be used in delivering an unparalleled guest experience that drives results systemwide. FranchiseBlast is set to roll out across Clean Juice’s locations in early February.

“Being the only certified organic concept is what makes us unique,” said Landon Eckles, co-founder of Clean Juice with spouse Kat. “But it’s our brand experience – delivered with speed, a smile and a servant’s heart – that sets us apart in creating our community of loyal guests. This partnership with FranchiseBlast will help us reach a level of excellence we expect.”

While the concept of juicing has been around since the 1970s, the Eckles discovered a market need for an all-organic juice bar and healthier fast food options, especially for young families with children. With no existing concept, they created their own store in Charlotte, North Carolina that ultimately led to franchising and an unrelenting mission to provide communities with a truly healthy and delicious organic product. Earlier this year, the franchise announced the opening of its 50th store and more than 70 in development. It expects to exit the year with more than 100 stores in less than 3 years.

The performance package from FranchiseBlast will also assist the fast-growing company with their store openings. The mobile-friendly app will help them ensure that their brand experience is uniform across all location in accordance with its aggressive development schedule and it will help their associates monitor important key performance indicators and ratios.

“Having a strong brand experience is what keeps customers coming back,” said Dean Hatzitheodosiou, Sr. Business Development Director of FranchiseBlast with a track record of helping companies experience fast growth. “Strong customer retention will help grow both the stores, and the franchise concept itself.”

Brand experience is more than just logo and colors. Clean Juice will also use the stores to monitor important elements such as ensuring: 

  • “Juiceristas” (store associates) educate customers on the product and its health benefits
  • Guests get a genuine, personal “connection” when they enter and throughout their experience
  • Product is arranged in an engaging manner with most popular items at eye-level and the retail space is warm, friendly and well-designed

Other important factors for the company that will be consistently monitored include cleanliness, freshness and food-safety, as well as branding.

Clean Juice continues its rapid ascension as the country’s first and only USDA-certified organic juice bar after recently announcing the opening of its 50th store in East Nashville, Tennessee earlier this year. The company has another 70 stores in development and expects to exit 2019 with more than 100 stores operating. For franchising opportunities, please visit:

About FranchiseBlast

FranchiseBlast’s Scorecards and Franchisee Field Audit Apps empower franchisors to achieve brand consistency across locations. The apps can be used by the franchise business coaches during their field visits or directly by franchisees themselves via self-assessments. Their user-friendly apps are used by over 13,500 locations including Focus Brands, Pita Pit and Liberty Tax Service.

About Clean Juice

Realizing the importance of an organic, plant-based diet, co-founders Landon and Kat Eckles started Clean Juice in 2016 as the first and only USDA-certified organic juice bar franchise. Rooted in “healthy body and a strong spirit” (3 John 1-2) scripture, Clean Juice offers organic açaí bowls, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, and other healthy food to on-the-go families in a warm and welcoming retail experience across the nation. For more information about Clean Juice, its leadership team and its core values, please visit


Stefania Sigurdson Forbes
Sr. Marketing Director
877-567-5282 x709

See original PRWeb Submission.

How Moe’s Southwest Grill Enhanced Franchisee Engagement by Sharing Performance Data Openly

By | Battle Tested Strategies, Restaurants
Moe's Southwest Grill Enhances franchisee transparency

How can you increase franchise engagement in today’s world where information is power? One smart and simple way is by making operations more transparent to the franchisees themselves.

Chris Hammond, the Regional Franchise Director at Focus Brands did just this, while making the store auditing system more effective. Moe’s Southwest Grill, affectionately known as Moe’s, offers a variety of Mexican dishes, and was dubbed by the Harris Poll Equitrend Survey as “Fast Casual Restaurant of the Year” in 2016. The name “Moe’s” originated as an acronym for “Musicians, Outlaws and Entertainers” and anyone experiencing a location will witness their music-themed decor. The company was founded in 2000, in Atlanta Georgia, and has over 650 locations. 

Moe’s is now owned by Focus Brands based in Sandy Springs, Georgia with over 5,000 stores. We sat down with Chris and talked about how he engaged his franchisees in a unique way using technology. 

How has your audit process evolved over time at Moe’s?

Chris: “I’ve been here for 12 years now. We started off with pen and paper – it was literally a yellow notebook and a Bic pen, and we took notes on what was working and what was not for each franchise. Later it evolved into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet where we would print a document off and fill it out with a pen on a clipboard. Afterwards, we would sit in front of our computer and type everything in. In terms of process – it was awful. 

“Then we moved to a software tool that was very ‘bare-bones’. We created a report, saved it as a PDF and then we emailed it to the store. That was fine, but we could not get anything else out of it and there was no way to measure analytics or KPIs for the unit or as a system.” 

How did that compare to using the FranchiseBlast audit tool?

Chris: “With FranchiseBlast we have the ability to look at analytics to see trends and averages.  We can see how we’re doing and what we need to focus on per category. We never had that before and it is a big help. The intuitive report platform takes our data and puts it into a powerful analytical report that shows our progress overall, scores on key indicators in the company, and on areas of focus.” 

Do you have certain analytics that are your favorite or things that you look at on a regular basis?

Chris: “The year-to-date score averages; we like to compare the first half of the year year-to-date score averages by Franchise Business Consultant (FBC) and by region. Secondly, the top deficiencies which shows what are they getting marked the most for; it tells us what we need to be focused on. We also like to give credit for what are they doing the best.” 

How do you use the tool in terms of store openings?

Chris: “We do a scoring on a location before it opens to see if it is ready for the trainers. We’ll do a walk-through of that stores and do a digital checklist. They’ll send it over to the corporate office and we will get back to the franchise and ask for updates based on the deficiencies that we found. That is a scorecard that is very valuable as well.” 

How do you communicate scores to franchisees?

Chris: “We do a ‘rack and stack’. My FBC team sends rankings on a weekly or monthly basis, where they will rank how a store performs on a report. They communicate both the top-ranking franchisees and the ones that are at the bottom. We use a snapshot of that dashboard report. We’ll share these scores openly so there is no secret there.” 

Okay so that’s good so then they see where they are and that is some transparency then.

Chris: “There is a lot of competition in the franchise world; you have to be careful with what you share but we communicate this information pretty openly. It is a very powerful tool. It doesn’t matter what concept you’re in, there are always going to be franchisees who are critical of the corporate office, while their operations are below par. With the transparency, I can respond to a franchisee who is performing poorly in a direct manner, because everyone knows the numbers.” 

When your coaches are using it what do you think is the biggest benefit is?

Chris: “The efficiency of how the reporting flows on the platform; it’s a very intuitive program and it’s easy for them to understand. It helps them to document and keep tabs on the scoring as well as they walk through and evaluation with a restaurant or an operator. “The coaches also like the other reports that we have made available such as a general food safety evaluation integrated with Steritech. We also use one for site surveys; if a franchisee is looking at going into a new area, we can do a site survey to assess if it will be a good area to build a new store or not.” 

How have your franchisees and multi-unit operators benefited?

Chris: “We recently made FranchiseBlast available for franchisees to use as well so their multi-unit managers can do self-evaluations. That’s something that we’ve always wanted to do since the beginning to time. We wanted something that can be monitored from our end that the franchisees are using. We’re finally able to do that and we are really pleased with what the future has in store.”

To learn more about Moe’s and the location nearest you, go here. To learn about their current franchise opportunities, go here

Are you ready to try FranchiseBlast’s audit tool? You can see more here

Recipe (Formerly CARA Operations) Locks in Restaurant Leadership with Technology

By | News, Press Release, Restaurants

For Immediate Release: BusinessWire

Quality is king in 2018 and Recipe Unlimited (formerly CARA Operations) continues to make meaningful investments in technology to strengthen its top spot in the Canadian marketplace. While Recipe’s brands such as Swiss Chalet and Harvey’s are leading the Canadian restaurant scene, to maintain that competitive edge technology is key.

FranchiseBlast’s Brand Consistency solution was selected by Recipe to help them reinforce their #1 position as Canada’s largest full-service restaurant company. Recipe both franchises and operates restaurant brands including Harvey’s, Swiss Chalet, Kelsey’s, East Side Mario’s, Montana’s, Milestones, Prime Pubs, Casey’s, Bier Markt, and Landing restaurants.

The Gatineau-based technology firm helps franchisors create consistent operations on their audits, where a coach runs a high-tech checklist of compliance items such as food safety, quality, service and more. It offers immediate, actionable insights for both franchisors and franchisees, and even creates leaderboards so brands can celebrate their operational superstars.

“I see a quiet but meaningful revolution taking place in the restaurant industry.” says Jason Kealey, President of FranchiseBlast. “Good is no longer sufficient. Operational excellence is key to winning and retaining today’s customer; even leading restaurant brands are looking for that competitive edge with brand consistency – that is what our software is all about.”

The versatility of FranchiseBlast’s solution has helped it find success in the restaurant industry. Working with Canada’s iconic restaurant brand aggregator strengthens their position globally.

“Franchising is undergoing a major transformation right now,” said Kealey. “Franchisors are focusing on unit-level economics, both top and bottom line, to help units grow.”

About FranchiseBlast

Since 2007 FranchiseBlast has helped franchises in their quest for operational excellence. Integrating best practices from some of the world’s best-known brands, FranchiseBlast combines elegant usability with turn-key quickstart programs. FranchiseBlast’s clients include brand aggregators such as Focus Brands and individual franchise brands such as Pita Pit and Tropical Smoothie Café among many others.


Stefania Sigurdson Forbes
Sr. Marketing Director
877-567-5282 x709

See BusinessWire Submission

How to Implement a Program that Makes Compliance a Part of the Culture.

By | Battle Tested Strategies, Restaurants

Several food safety scares in the 1990s, prompted franchisors across the world to pay more attention to better compliance. During this time, Sonic’s Chris Galuskin helped roll out a food safety initiative that was so successful, that health safety authorities in some regions allowed crew members to skip wearing gloves. We talked to Chris about the “20/20 rule” that he helped Sonic implement, and how people today could roll out something similar.

What was your role at Sonic and what is it today?
“At the time I was a Franchise Consultant and it was the greatest job that I ever had. Sonic is a great company and I had a lot of fun. I eventually wound up becoming a Director of Operations. Later, I worked for franchisee out of Louisiana as a Director of Operations. Today I do some consulting and connect with people across my ever-growing network.”

What interested you initially in the franchising community?
Chris: “I just love it. You’re dealing with people who are entrepreneurs – they are always thinking outside the box. I love seeing people become successful, especially when they either use your idea entirely, or they adapt bits and pieces from it. Sometimes it is about helping them see what is right in front of them and that look in their face of “wow, I didn’t even know that”. Those things are really energizing for me.”

Thinking back to that time, of the late 90s, what prompted the renewed interest at Sonic about Food Safety?
“We had this initiative, which was a national drive, and we really adopted it and made it our own. That was the ServSafe testing and certification. We really ran with it and our passion was to get everybody that was running a shift in the brand was to be ServSafe Certified.

“The first thing was to get our internal staff to be certified and train others, so it was a “train the trainer” model. That’s what really drove our interest and we started to really dig down deep into what Food Safety really was, and what that meant to us. We wanted to put a stamp on the brand. “

According to the ServSafe website, “the ServSafe Food Safety Training program leads the way in providing current and comprehensive educational materials to the restaurant industry. More than 4 million foodservice professionals have been certified through the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification Exam, which is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Conference for Food Protection (CFP). “

Stef: How would you describe your program?
“The program was called the “20/20 rule” which was where the company empowered the franchisees and their staff to wash their hands every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. It caught on with our franchise network and their teams. We would set a timer and we would put people in on the schedule and we would write a number or a letter next to that name. Participants knew that when the bell went off for group “A”, they washed your hands. We tried to pattern it around the fact that everyone could physically wash their hands every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.

“That program became so popular with the local health departments in some counties that they allowed us not to use gloves because we were washing our hands continuously. They were so impressed with it that we became the “poster child” for food safety.”

At that time, how many locations did Sonic have?
“When we began, we were probably just short of 1,000 units. By the time I left, I physically opened the 2,500th unit on the outskirts of Jackson Mississippi. It was a time of dramatic growth.”

How did you communicate that program and roll it out in a way that it worked at so many locations?
Chris: “
One of the great things about Sonic is that they communicated very well. Through our ServSafe training, we physically had 75-80% of the brand rotating through this program. It was a topic discussion in every class we had. That in-turn got back to the unit-level and they shared that information as well.

“We also challenged them to share what the impact was for their people and we wanted them to communicate that back to us. This was shared in some of our publications that we have within the system.”

When you mentioned the communications, is that something that GMs of the restaurant would see, or did you have a publication that went out the front-line staff?
Chris: “
The GMs would get to see it, and they would post it on their communication boards. We had small posters that were put up next to the hand-washing stations that communicated that to front-line staff as well.”

What challenges did you have in terms of the program?
Chris: “Any time that you are dealing with humans, they always “buck”. They think it is different and they resist the change. But some of those challenges are good because some people come up with creative ideas to complete their tasks. People who are like that and are very curious and eventually they see the results for themselves. They understand why it works.

“Once you get enough buy-in, it becomes contagious. That was one of the things that Sonic was so great at, and still is today. They’re a very happy-go-lucky culture. It is a finesse that reflects in their commercials. They do this Dr. Pepper Sonic Games where they all come together and compete.

“If you are communicating, repeating, enforcing and following up, things become culture. It is part of who you are. It is in your DNA. That particular program eventually became their mantra for food safety.”

Do you think that having that happy-go-lucky culture helped with trust between the franchisor and the franchisee?
“That is one of the reasons why I loved working for Sonic. They had a sense of allowing you to be empowered for the change in the brand. Your voice meant something. Patty Moore was the President at the time; she was very influential in instilling that type of culture. She was able to talk to the dishwasher and the CEO in the same breath – she connected people.  It is a very humble brand. “

If someone was to do something similar, what advice would you give them based on your experience in this program?
When we did the program, it was labor intensive. It was the most untechnical application that you could imagine, using pencil, paper and egg timers. Today “there is an app for that”. Also – don’t be afraid to ask for help.  That is my experience with networking and asking questions. You will be surprised by the answers that you get!

For every Battle Tested Strategy, we do a series of “fun” questions. Enjoy! 

What new behavior or habit adopted in the past 5 years has most positively impacted your life?
Chris: “
Connecting with people who are like-minded – and it does not have be foodservice or retail. It is finding out what makes them tick and what drives them to do what they do. I think if you get a tidbit of that information, it makes you better. It becomes a “brain rolodex”; it is in there somewhere. You can pull back that information and remember “I talked to someone the other day.””

What is a purchase less than $100 that has most improved your life?
“A couple of things: One is having the right cord for the right technology. It is priceless, and it is only $10. I am an Apple user and integrating it with other things can be excruciating. The other purchase is getting the best router that you can find. I don’t know if it is because I have become impatient with technology, or because my processes are dragging so much more broadband. But, man I love my router!”

What would you put on a billboard?
“Learn something new today.”

What book have you gifted the most to other people.
“It is Andie Andrews The Travelers Gift. It is the best read I have ever had – I literally get goosebumps when listening to the audio version.”

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Digital Disruption in Restaurants – Franchise Growth Trend Hunter

By | Franchising Trends, Restaurants

Industry folks are talking a lot about digital disruption in restaurants these days. According to Steve DeSutter, CEO of Focus Brands, “The industry is changing […] One of the challenges I’ve put in front of my team is, if we are not innovating and remaining relevant to our loyal customer, we’re losing.”

The focus brands umbrella includes: Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli, the Schlotzky’s sandwich chain, Cinnabon, Carvel and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. And more than ever, offering customers enhanced choice and improved speed are the ways to define your restaurant franchise.

Driving this paradigm shift (and so many others) is the ubiquity of mobile phones, and their access to the marketplace. To put it in perspective, most people would rather lose their wallet than their phone — that’s how important they’ve become! Positive reviews have always been great for business but now they’re becoming essential. In fact,  33% of Google searches include starred reviews, and they’re no longer a “nice to have” — they’re a need to have.

We live in a noisy world – there are a lot of brands are clamoring for our attention. According to Steve Jobs, “Marketing is all about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about. “

The retail transformation is here. According to Forbes, “e-commerce and shopping platforms such as Amazon — where 43% of all U.S. online retail sales are coming from.” With that in mind, let’s look at three franchise brands that are managing digital disruption beautifully.

To see the first two installments of our “Franchise Growth Trend Hunter” series, go to:


Dunkin’ Donuts

Units: 12,435

Overview: Dunkin’ Donuts has long been at the forefront of mobile marketing in response to digital disruption in restaurants. Since the beginning of the digital era, they have been capitalizing on its ability to connect with consumers. As such, the company’s DD Perks program boasts 8 million members.

They are also considering a rebrand, removing the word “Donuts” from its name to appeal to modern, health-conscious consumers. But that’s only the very beginning.

Dunkin’ is trying to make their strategy even more future-thinking, with steps that include the following two strategies according to AdAge: “Use the face recognition on the iPhone X to see whether someone looks tired and suggest a coffee delivery if so, Weisman suggested. It is exploring an integration with Outlook that could suggest ordering food and coffee when someone schedules a meeting.”

They also have a new “concept store” which allows mobile orders to go in a different line, going right to the front, accelerating the process for customers willing to dive in digitally:

Bottom Line: Embracing mobile technology holistically is a big part of connecting with today’s consumer – it does not stop at a rewards program.


Units: 36,899 Restaurants Worldwide

Overview: McDonalds has kept pace with digital transformation through their partnership with UBEREats in 10,000 restaurants and their mobile app, which offers a pay option.

They call this transformation “Experience the Future”. According to Diginomica: “(2018 is) set to be a year of massive investment in new digital platforms, with most of $300 million of savings elsewhere being pumped into technology spend.”

There is also an in-store component to the initiative, for those who still like to go into the restaurants. According to the same article:

“In many of our markets we’ve scaled the Experience of the Future platform providing our customers a more seamless, personalized and enjoyment experience with digital menu boards, self-order kiosk, greater hospitality and a modernized look. They are telling us they like the new McDonald’s better. They are rewarding us with more frequent visits and they are spending more on average when they do. We deployed Experience of the Future in about one-third of the restaurants in the McDonald’s system, including nearly 3000 restaurants in the US.”

Bottom Line: Digital transformation will be on the fast food menu in many different forms. Taking a multifaceted approach helps follow the consumer’s new habits, while hanging on to the basics such as friendly service and delicious food.


Units: 9,285

Overview: In an interesting “parting shot” as he left his role at Domino’s, outgoing CEO Patrick Doyle said that Domino’s is on the path to go from 60% to 100% digital.

Pizza has lead the way in terms of home delivery. But as others catch up, they are now needing to be even more progressive. Domino’s is doing a lot, including a digital assistant named DOM who can take phone orders, similar to Amazon’s Alexa.

Part of their innovation is to have digital “hot spots” which have no traditional address for food lovers who want pizza at the beach or in the park. There will be 200,000 locations created, maximizing access for their customer base.

According to Doyle:

“The ability to now deliver to spots without a traditional address and other rather unexpected sites will not only continue to drive incremental orders in the near term, but it is yet another meaningful step on our mission of industry-leading convenience; and the ability to order from us anywhere, anytime. This is thanks to outstanding technology helped by continued aggressive investment, sound operations, which are vital to making the Hotspots process work and proper execution participation at the store level, a nod to our terrific franchisees, managers and drivers.”

Bottom Line: Innovative franchisors can still focus on “what is next?” An investment in innovation now, can help manage the digital transformation of the future.

Conclusion: As the digital and mobile technology continue to disrupt the restaurant industry, savvy business are leveraging new technology to connect with their customers in unexplored ways.

At the forefront of this movement are major chains like Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds and Dominos, all who have shown themselves more than capable to remain at the bleeding edge of innovation.

By maintaining the old-school ideals of quality products and expedient service, these companies and those like them can increase profitability and customer satisfaction by leveraging the latest digital technology available.

How FranchiseBlast Can Help

As things continue to evolve, you want to make sure that your operations are still strong, and that your service is at a high standard. FranchiseBlast’s Auditing and Performance tools help organizations stay on track and evolve with the times.

5 best practices to drive growth in a restaurant chain

By | Restaurants

Fotolia_55831988_XSIt happens. You load up your latest sales report and see that sales have stagnated over the last quarter. Again. Things could be worse: you’re glad that you are not that restaurant chain which got people sick last month. Time to cheer yourself up by procrastinating on your iPad and reading the news. Surprisingly, you notice an article about your employer in one of the opinion pieces. Looks like the author didn’t have the best customer experience and started a rant about how your menu hasn’t changed in a decade. At first, you chalk up the negativity to the less-than-perfect experience but, now that you think of it, maybe menu fatigue is the root cause behind your stagnation. The author is right: you have kept your menu relatively unchanged and purposefully simple over the past decade.

Anyone with a bit of restaurant industry experience knows that food costs are one of the two biggest controllable costs in a restaurant (along with labour costs). Your menu simplicity is actually one of your strengths: it has helped your profitability and made new employee training easy over the years. Perhaps these new competitors offering similar products have slowly eroded your differentiator without you realizing it?

Time to get the R&D department involved. Yeah, that means Joe. Joe’s the whole department. Maybe this is proof that you haven’t been doing that much innovation these past few years. You meet with Joe and brainstorm together. You come up with crazy ideas involving lobster or pulled pork. Beth walks by and says she’s a big fan of this new thing from Canada called poutine. You leave the project with Joe and he does more research, more development, more experimentation. He comes back with a few interesting options: they all taste great. You’re determined that you should add these to the menu. But you can’t add them all. Not at the same time. What do you do?

Best Practice #1: Involve the franchisees and/or store managers

In a franchising environment, increasing franchisee engagement should always be a priority. Franchisees aren’t just there to do what you tell them to; they are independent business owners who want to be involved. They’re a part of the brand as much as you are and they are the ones out there executing the brand promise every single day. Your decisions affect their bottom line. The happier they are, the less churn you will see and more new units you will open. The managers and/or chefs are also important stakeholders in this process. They know what takes too long to make during rush hour, they know what customers are asking for.

But how do you collect feedback from distributed individuals? Isn’t it like herding cats? It is a lot of work to do manually, but FranchiseBlast offers a franchisee polling app which lets you blast off a survey to all franchisees and store managers to collect feedback. You can thus send over the details of the three main options R&D prepared, with pictures, and ask for people to give you their thoughts. You can even ask them to try to prepare the recipes themselves and get feedback from the rest of the store staff.

What you discover is that some franchisees are concerned about the price of lobster and the risk that it would spoil and food costs would rise. Others comment about how pulled pork would be a poor choice in their demographics due to religion. Finally, one of your first franchisees would be severely disappointed if you went forward with poutine. Isn’t one of your core values to serve healthy options? It would turn off a large portion of your clientele.

There’s no easy answer. It’s normal for a group to have diverging opinions. The greater the group, the more divergence. As a franchisor, you can’t just always listen to the loudest group but it is in your best interest to bring up the subject with your franchisee advisory council, if you have one.

End Result: You’re moving forward with lobster.

Best Practice #2: Leverage limited time offers (LTOs) to experiment

To the best of your knowledge, adding lobster is the best option. You’re concerned about the food costs, especially since the price skyrockets during the off season. You’re pretty much forced to launch the item as a Limited Time Offer (LTO) because of this, but it would be a best practice regardless of what menu item you picked. You could run a test in a handful of locations and see what happens (and potentially still should), but a localized test doesn’t produce statistically significant results and can easily be skewed by local preferences. It’s time to do a nationwide LTO and get marketing involved to make sure it’s a hit. If menu fatigue is one of the root causes of your stagnation, a good campaign will help bring back previous customers or win new ones. It does also get your brand in front of more people so you’ll stay top of mind in your loyal customer base even if they’re not attracted by the LTO.

Marketing produces a brilliant campaign with stellar messaging. You love it. Time to shoot off an announcement to all locations about the upcoming campaign. FranchiseBlast offers a franchise news function for this purpose. You can also upload the digital files for your marketing collateral in our document repository for franchisees to download and print locally. Alternately, you can sell off preprinted goods in our franchise marketplace or just ship them off directly to the franchisees at no cost to them (paid out of the ad fund).

Best Practice #3: Systemize complex roll-outs

Some rollouts are fairly simple. Perhaps you already use the base ingredients in other recipes and you just need to install a few posters. Perhaps, you’re past the pilot or LTO stages and want to integrate the menu item to your permanent menu. In some cases, new pieces of machinery need to be installed gradually over time in all locations. An easy example would be a new toaster oven, but in our story we’re selling lobster and management has decided to install live lobster tanks in every location. (This is a horrible idea, please don’t do this and blame us if it fails!).

The best practice, however, for complex roll-outs is to systemize the whole project. Build a standard project plan which lists who (franchisee, franchisor, etc.) needs to do what (order machinery, get quotes for installation, have it installed, etc.) by when (days before the grand launch). Once your project plan is systemized, you can execute the project in the context of every store. In FranchiseBlast, we call these Action Plans. During the whole process, franchisees may voice questions or concerns via each individual Task or via the Support Desk if they need assistance.

By systemizing the project, you ensure fewer tasks fall between the cracks and you and your regional managers can centrally track the progress of the full roll-out.

Best Practice #4: Review the roll-out.

In best practices #1 and #2 above, we were focusing more on “are we doing the right thing?”. In this best practice, we focus on “are we doing the thing right?”.

From a marketing standpoint, if you’re spending hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on nationwide marketing campaigns, it is in your best interest to ensure that all stores have rolled out the LTO banners and other collateral. To drive  consistency, some users of FranchiseBlast leverage our franchisee polling app and shoot off a self-assessment to all franchisees. The self-assessment will request that they snap a picture of the campaign using their mobile phone to prove it has been properly rolled out. This is a very affordable way to ensure consistent branding across all locations.

A more expensive yet more powerful technique is to leverage your franchise business coaches to go out in the field and review how the staff is actually preparing the limited time offers using our franchisee field audits app. Reviewing LTOs should be a staple of any field audit questionnaire because it has a direct impact on sales, just like making sure staff are upselling during a transaction.

To the best of your knowledge, this campaign is what will drive results. If half the stores aren’t offering it, then you obviously won’t see the expected results. If you are ultimately responsible for the whole process, your job may be on the line here even if the LTO fails at the execution level, not the strategy level.

Best Practice #5: Evaluate the impact. Make data-driven decisions.

Alright, buddy. The limited time offer is over. Time to look at some numbers and evaluate how it performed. Franchisors often utilize our benchmarking app to compare and contrast performance over time and drill down into certain key performance metrics. By monitoring gross LTO sales and food costs (both $ values and % of sales), you can effectively determine if the campaign had a positive impact on both sales and, more importantly for your franchisee, profitability.


If the campaign is a resounding success, time to analyze why it was a success – perhaps your gut assumptions are wrong. If it was a total failure, time to learn from your mistakes and try something new in the future. The most likely outcome is you’ll end up with a mixed bag of results with some locations performing better and some performing worse for a variety of reasons. Your job isn’t easy, but having the technology at your fingertips to make data-driven decisions is key.

As a final note, a post-mortem analysis is obviously a good idea – but you’re in a much better place if you have the tools at hand to make real-time performance reviews while the campaign is running.

I’ll hope that the lobster campaign was such a success that you’re making the lobster your new official mascot. If so, you should get a costume made for Joe to wear during your next annual convention.


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