It’s been said that the success of a restaurant, be it fast casual or fine dining, comes down to location, location, location.
Every franchisee has the opportunity to bring specialized business savvy to its quick-service units, but it’s rare that a single operator affects the entire system.
Paul Hitzelberger hasn’t exactly had a normal retirement. After serving as chief marketing officer for Del Taco from 1986 to 2001 and being part owner for all but three years of that time, he chose to take over some of the company’s worst-performing franchise locations, all located in Utah, and turn them around. His wife, Jane, joined the venture to help with administrative tasks, and the pair began to reinvigorate eight locations in the Salt Lake City region.
Today, the Hitzelbergers run 26 units around the city, with two more in development and nine more under consideration.
For David Beaton, working for Tim Hortons has been a lifelong passion. The Nova Scotia native started working for the 50-year-old Canadian chain after graduating from business school in 1992 and has helped grow its presence in the U.S. His wife, Allanna, a former teacher, has been his partner in the endeavor for the last 15 years.
The couple took over their first two U.S. locations in Lockport and Amherst, New York, in 1999, and since then have steadily amassed a collection of restaurants, now running 25 Tim Hortons units in the Buffalo, New York, area.
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It’s no secret that the quick-serve industry has a high turnover rate, and the time and money businesses spend to hire new employees add up fast. But some operators are turning to mobile platforms to change employee hiring and retention strategies, thanks in part to a high percentage of Millennial workers.
“The trend out there is to accommodate certainly the newest generation of worker … with as much of an ability to interact with you as a potential employer via their phone,” says David Lewis, president and CEO of OperationsInc, a human resources consulting firm.
The fast-casual pizza category is booming with its more personalized customization experience, and traditional quick-serve pizza brands are taking note. Earlier this year, Pizza Hut unveiled its Hand-Tossed pizza as a fresh new option with a lighter crust akin to the fast-casual segment’s artisanal offerings.
“We’ve heard from our consumers that they’re looking for a little more uniqueness in their experiences,” says Doug Terfehr, spokesman. He says the company responded with the most popular way that people get pizza: tossed by hand.
The combined influence of better-burger restaurants and the fast-casual customization model has had a profound impact on what burger brands now offer consumers. A recent survey by Chicago-based technology and services company Food Genius, which measures menu mentions at restaurant across the U.S., shows that while traditional ingredients like onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms are still the most popular topping options, more unique foods are taking root at burger concepts across the country.
National broadcast advertising creates a large ripple effect across the country, and quick-serve brands are finding that such advertising can be useful in building demand in new and emerging markets.
Using advertisements to build a buzz for a brand that has yet to reach certain regions can lead to consumer excitement and winding lines out the doors of new units, quick-serve brand representatives say.
It's no surprise that children love to eat at quick-serve restaurants. But a recent survey by Chicago–based research firm Y-Pulse shows that, beyond a noticeable increase in their favorability ratings for such establishments in the last few years, kids also have higher expectations for the industry, especially when it comes to health and freshness.
While entrepreneurs behind upstart quick-service and fast-casual concepts usually focus their growth efforts on one brand, a young Ohio-based franchise company has pinned its expansion hopes on three separate brands.
Ichor Restaurant Group serves as the umbrella company for three franchised fast-casual concepts: Old Carolina Barbecue Company, Baja Pizzafish, and Smoke the Burger Joint. With eight Old Carolina units, one Baja Pizzafish unit, and two Smoke locations open, Ichor is hoping franchisees can grow the company by leveraging the diversity of the portfolio in their markets.