Communication among restaurant franchisees is often problematic. When loosely connected franchisees in different locations try to communicate, many obstacles get in the way, including company firewalls, different time zones, technology issues and a silo mentality. However, every day, virtually every restaurant team learns something that could potentially benefit other teams and the brand in general. Unfortunately, at the end of each day most restaurant brands suffer from information evaporation where this collective knowledge disappears never to be thought about or used again.
The good news is the social web provides a compelling solution.
Within restaurant franchise groups, each franchisee has specialized knowledge that if shared effectively would be useful to others. Examples of this knowledge could be expertise in operations, marketing, finance, real estate or community relations.
Under a pre-social web communications model, if I am a franchisee and have say an operations question, I would either call corporate or my field marketing manager. (read more…)
Sandwich chain Togo’s bills itself as a West Coast Original with the style of an East Coast deli, where each customer has a one-on-one interaction with the sandwich maker, said CEO Tony Gioia, himself a New York native who long ago relocated to the Golden State.
The story goes that a hungry college student on a budget opened the first Togo’s shop in 1971 in San Jose, Calif., selling the kind of big, meaty sandwiches he and his friends wanted at prices they could afford. Togo’s grew organically in California in the following years, and Dunkin’ Donuts parent Dunkin’ Brands acquired it in the late 1990s. In 2007, Gioia, the former president of Dunkin-owned Baskin Robbins, teamed with private equity firm Mainsail Partners to buy Togo’s, which now has 245 restaurants, all but 15 of them in California.
Today, Togo’s is in growth mode, with a plan to expand with multi-unit operators in seven Western states where it’s likely transplanted Californians will be familiar with the brand, Gioia said. (read more…)
Tipping has been a hot topic lately, from pending IRS rule changes that put more of the tax onus on employers when restaurants charge automatic gratuities to the question of whether it’s time to rethink the entire tipping custom.
A new IRS rule has Darden-owned chains including Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse reconsidering their practice of automatically tacking tips onto tables of eight or more, the Orlando Sentinel reported earlier this month. Starting in January, the IRS will treat the tips as taxable wages, potentially complicating bookkeeping procedures. Darden’s eateries have thus far dropped the practice at about 100 locations, replacing it with suggested tip amounts and notes on the check that calculate the amount of 15%, 18% and 20% tips, the Sentinel reported.
The IRS change isn’t that radical, the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Melissa Bova told CBS last week. “When a server gets tips anyway, they have to submit it and pay taxes on it as well, so really it’s just saying who’s going to be submitting the taxes — the business or the server,” she said. (read more…)
The FMI and GMA Global Sustainability Summit has been all about “uncovering the possibilities” but sometimes, implementing sustainable efforts can hit road bumps, especially when it comes to business. In today’s economy, competition is high and costs savings and ROI are top of mind, which can push sustainability ideas and initiatives to the wayside when it comes to the C-suite. In the interactive session “Making the Business Case for Sustainability,” led by Erin Billman, principal, and Julie Menter, manager, both of Blu Skye Sustainability Consulting, industry attendees shared ideas and strategies to make the case and get the green light for sustainability efforts.
The biggest take-away from the session was essentially, “be prepared and think ahead.” Be prepared to lay the right groundwork, develop the right content and conduct powerful enrollment.
“Many people go straight to content — it has a potential to fall flat if you don’t lay down the groundwork,” Billman said. (read more…)
Jack Butorac is both the CEO of Marco’s Pizza and a franchisee under a separate company that owns or manages 34 of the chain’s 340 stores. “The way that [founder] Pat Giammarco and I set up the the company, it’s just the intellectual property, trademarks and franchise agreements. We agreed we didn’t want the company to own stores, but I wanted to own stores, so I started a separate company.”
Butorac, who joined Marco’s as a consultant in 2002 and took a majority ownership stake two years later, has been ramping up expansion in recent years — franchisees opened 61 new stores last year and are on track to beat the goal of opening 100 more in 2013. He spoke with me last week to share some thoughts on franchising, leadership and how to build a company that can thrive in a downturn.
Marco’s has restaurants in 29 states and the Bahamas and Panama. (read more…)