If you think franchises are automatons with little regard for customers, think again. Franchise flexibility is now a huge selling point to attract customers.
Franchises have shown a lot more responsiveness to customers than you might realize. In fact, I’d argue that many are more in tune with customers than big-box stores that seem to be more focused on the next holiday than helping you find what you meant to shop for in the first place.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Valentine’s Day stuff out the day after New Years. I’m thinking about this as I eat a breakfast muffin at yes, 3:15 p.m. Because I can.
Food Franchises are Particularly in Tune with What Customers Want
I like to have a small sandwich in the mid-afternoon, sometimes, a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin. (Tip: ask them to hold off the cheese and the result is a surprisingly low-fat, yet high-protein snack.) It wakes me up and I don’t get hungry again til it’s time for dinner.
McDonald’s held off for so long because it worried that it would be too much for franchises to handle a larger menu throughout the day, Money reported earlier this year. But “tens of thousands of customers” were demanding it. Franchise flexibility was becoming more of a necessity than a nicety.
Given the real concern that some locations could become easily overwhelmed, the franchise decided that locations could determine which breakfast items to offer. And, bowing to biscuits’ popularity in the South, franchises there serve biscuits rather than McMuffins (except for Florida, which retains its McMuffin status). Here’s a map from Nation’s Restaurant News that shows the Great McMuffin Divide.
Wendy’s is also offering value meals for the first time: four items for $4 to lure “price conscious customers,” NRN reports. McDonald’s, it says, is also asking franchises to approve a 2 item for $2 deal. Bundled meals are more in line with what customers want; at the very least, most people do want a drink to wash down the food.
‘Tis the Season for Home Delivery–of Fast Food?
Perhaps it’s the impact of online shopping. KFC customers in Los Angeles and San Francisco will be able to get their fast-food fixes delivered by DoorDash by the end of the year. Given the traffic in LA, maybe this isn’t such a bad idea. It may actually be faster to get those buckets delivered than to drive over and wait on line.
Pizza Hut is welcoming the holidays with the Triple Treat promotion it introduced in November. The Triple Treat is a three-level box with drawers for pizza, breadsticks, and desert for $20. These are the items customers like best, Pizza Hut’s VP for marketing told NRN, “and can make every day a holiday.”
Franchise Flexibility Extends to Customer Communications
Studies show that customers prefer receiving emails about upcoming sales and specials. A study by Marketing Sherpa finds more than 70% prefer this contact method.
Emails are best for stores; Ace Hardware has an excellent email setup linked to loyalty cards, whose owners get perhaps one email a week about a sale and more often than not, a coupon as well.
Franchise home offices, particularly those that serve food, have learned their customers love smartphone apps. Since consumers’ use of mobile tech, particularly smartphones, now outruns desktops, it’s essential for many service-oriented businesses to have mobile-friendly websites or apps that bring special services to customers.
Starbucks (which is not franchised in North America) was one of the first chains to create an app. It remains the most successful in the food business, reports Entreprenuer. Other franchises that now offer apps include its nearest competitor, Dunkin’ Donuts (which is a franchise). Domino’s created an app that even syncs with Ford’s SYNC Media to ease ordering and pick up or delivery from nearest location.